DEKALB COUNTY, GA — Homeowners in the Water’s Edge community in Southeast DeKalb County have won a pivotal court battle against their homeowners association(HOA) as they prepare to hold elections this month for a new board of directors.
In a unanimous decision, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed an earlier ruling of the DeKalb County Superior Court and agreed with the homeowners of Water’s Edge that the community’s governing documents do not allow non homeowners to serve on the Board of Directors and do not require a quorum for an election of Board members to be valid. The case was filed as Willis vs. Water’s Edge Homeowners Association Inc. Carla Willis is president of WE(Water’s Edge) Concerned Homeowners.
This pivotal legal victory champions homeowners’ rights and sets a new precedent for fair elections within the Water’s Edge community. The Court’s decision dismantles the long-standing, arbitrary barriers that had prevented an open and equitable election for more than a decade, the group said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to elevate the voices of hard-working Water’s Edge homeowners,” said Carla Willis, president of WE Concerned Homeowners. “This win is not just a triumph for Water’s Edge; it’s a victory for homowners throughout Georgia and everywhere who struggle against outdated and unjust governance.”
Attorney Randy Williams ,who represented Willis, commended the homeowners remaining steadfast in pressing for change.
“While the decision of the Court of Appeals reinforces what I have always believed was the proper legal interpretation of the Water’s Edge Governing Documents, I am most excited about what this victory means for all of the homeowners who pulled their resources together and dedicated their time and energy to holding the Association’s leadership accountable,” said Attorney Randy Williams, President & Managing Partner of Williams Law Group of Georgia, LLC. “It should not be taken lightly the dedicated grass roots efforts that it took to bring this coalition of homeowners together under a unified call for fair and representative elections. I am in awe of the W.E Concerned Homeowners’ leadership team that was able to coordinate this effort.
The Rockbridge Coalition of Neighborhoods, which had supported We Concerned Homeowners through a number of initiatives, applauded the Georgia Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Water’s Edge homeowners. The coalition hosted two virtual forums on HOA Governance and helped to wage a campaign to get homeowners out to vote in the HOA elections.
“This case revolves around the HOA Board of Directors allowing a non-homeowner, who was also not required to pay HOA dues, to be a member of the Board of Directors. The case was also about restrictive quorum requirements that kept non-elected directors in place for 10 years,” said Lance Hammonds, who chairs the Coalition. “The Court of Appeals ruled that a non-homeowner could not serve as a Director on the HOA Board and that quorum was not required for the election of Directors.”
Hammonds said that with the number of Homeowner Association abuse cases on the rise across the country, state law makers must put into place uniform HOA best practices that protect homeowners while allowing HOA Boards to maintain their communities.