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Johnson battles homeowner's association in court

A homeowner's association in Kettering is suing Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and his wife for allegedly failing to pay assessments to the HOA.

In court papers filed in Prince George's County District Court, the Kettering Community Association is asking for about $1,500 in late assessments and legal fees. The property, in the 10800 block of Bennington Drive, has been owned by the Johnson's and rented out for decades, the county executive said.

Johnson said the lawsuit is unfounded, that he has always paid his dues to the group and that he has chosen to fight in court rather than pay up in order to stand on principle.

"We had this house for 30 years, paid our dues consistently for 30 years," Johnson said in an interview Friday. "They claim we didn't pay. ... It's only $150 (per year). The next thing I know I get a bill for $1,800 or more ... and [got a notice] they are going to foreclose on my house [from] some lawyer. I got pretty mad. I hired a lawyer representing me. ... My thing is, look, I'm not just going to give my money away. ... Because you're the county executive, people feel like you're going to pay just to avoid being embarrassed. ... I paid the lawyer more than the claim is for. Sometimes you just have to stand up."

Johnson is term-limited and in his final year of office. His wife, Leslie E. Johnson, is running for County Council in District 6. Calls to the lawyer for the plaintiff, Torin K. Andrews, and to the community association were not returned. The case is due back in court Aug. 6.

In court papers, the HOA stated that assessments are paid "for maintenance of common areas and facilities," and that the Johnsons have "failed to remit payment for the assessments due, despite repeated requests to do so."

Johnson said the incident is emblematic of a pattern of dealings between HOAs and residents in the county.

"There's a pattern that's been really frustrating for us," he said. "You have these developers that come in and they build condominium associations and homeowners associations, but the way the bylaws are drafted, the citizens of Prince George's County never take control over their own communities."

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  July 16, 2010; 2:44 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Comments

I don't like Johnson, but I might have to side with him. This claim is for 10 years of unpaid dues? Doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: whomp1 | July 16, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"... has been owned by the Johnson's and rented out for decades."

"Johnson's"? Really? Where does the WaPo find these "reporters"?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 16, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Homeowners Associations are infringing on Constitutional rights many times. Covenants, restrictions, etc. They infringe on the freedom of people to enjoy their own home. Foreclose on a home for failure to pay the Association. That is robbery and extortion.

Posted by: bobbo2 | July 16, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Homeowners Associations are infringing on Constitutional rights many times. Covenants, restrictions, etc. They infringe on the freedom of people to enjoy their own home. Foreclose on a home for failure to pay the Association. That is robbery and extortion.

Posted by: bobbo2 | July 16, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

===========================================

IF YOU SIGNED THE HOA DOCUMENTS AND DIDN'T READ THEM FIRST, YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET.

THIS IS LIKE BLAMING THE BANKS FOR ALL THE SUBPRIME FORECLOSURES. STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.

Posted by: COOLCHILLY | July 16, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

HOA=666 I think Jack Johnson is right on this one. I do not presume that the HOA is correct. They are generally run by idiots who are drunk on power and who have no clue about the law. The fact that he is payingmore for his lawyer than the alleged outstanding debt strongly suggests that he is being harassed by these creeps, possibly for political reasons. I will NEVER move into another HOA community.

Posted by: PepperDr | July 16, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"IF YOU SIGNED THE HOA DOCUMENTS AND DIDN'T READ THEM FIRST, YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET."

Agreed. Or, in this case, he may have read them and someone overlooked a bill. What a tool.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | July 16, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

If you paid them, you'd have record of it. Go to the bank, pay the fee to get the back records, show the records and move on. Surely, a request for payment this year isn't the first request, if it's been TEN years! Johnson is so busy stealing from everyone else, he thinks it's bad because someone is calling him on being the crook he is.

I don't care for HOAs and their "control" over your property, but if you buy in a development with an HOA, you agree to the terms. READ the documents and you won't get surprised later!

Posted by: washkrdj | July 16, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"You have these developers that come in and they build condominium associations and homeowners associations, but the way the bylaws are drafted, the citizens of Prince George's County never take control over their own communities."

Let's focus on this problem and why JJ's comments are only partially true. Many, if not most HOAs exist because the County government, through the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission requires the formation of an HOA during the subdivision process to own and maintain open space and recreational features that MNCPPC extracts from the developer. Who appoints the Planning Board members? Who requires the extractions? Who gets to pay for decisions that were made before the first house was built?
But, on this article alone. Wouldn't it be wise for both sides to have documents to show payment or non-payment without bothering the court system? If the HOA has proof, it should be awarded summary judgment. If Jack and Leslie have proof and show it to the HOA, the suit would be over.
Could we get a link to the court docket so we can watch this legal drama play out?

Posted by: ralphgrutzmacher | July 17, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Alternate title (more relevant in light of Post's editorial endorsing council candidates):

District 6 county council candidate battles homeowner's association in court

Posted by: dcrussell | July 18, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

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