For Georgia real estate litigation nerds, a recent case issued by the Georgia Court of Appeals provides interesting reading. The case, Great Water Lanier, LLC v. Summer Crest at Four Seasons on Lanier Homeowners Association, Inc., A17A1810 (January 2, 2018), involves a convoluted dispute between an investor and a homeowners’ association (HOA). At issue were whether a property was subject to an HOA. The owner of the property asked a court in Hall County to find that the parcel was not subject to the HOA, while the HOA requested the opposite and asked that the property owner pay HOA dues.
The Court of Appeals recited well-settled Georgia law that a person that purchases property is bound by terms in the deed that conveys the property (whether the buyer likes it or not).
The warranty deed in question referred to the HOA, but did so in an arguably ambiguous way. In addition, there were documents signed by the parties that showed the property was not intended to be a part of the HOA. After applying the rules of contract construction to the warranty deed, the Court of Appeals determined the language was not ambiguous, and therefore the language referencing the HOA in the warranty deed controlled over any other documents.
The takeaway is to carefully examine the warranty deed and all other documents when purchasing property.