DD 3/12 assessments on unplatted lotsHOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS; ASSESSMENTS: Where Declaration imposes assessments on "lots, tracts and parcels of land" within area identified by metes and bound description, and no plat has been recorded which identifies any such lots, assessments are nonetheless valid if lots can be identified through unrecorded plat or otherwise. H.B.I. Constr. v. Graviett, 903 S.W.2d 653 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995)
Owner brought a slander of title suit against a homeowners association when it filed a lien against the owner's land following the owner's failure to pay assessments. The court found that the term "lots" in the recorded Declaration was broad enough to embrace the metes and bounds of owner's land contained in the owner's deed, even though no subdivision plat had been recorded. It frowned upon the owner's expectation to benefit from the road and well easements without paying the assessments, especially since the restrictions had been recorded eight years prior to the owner's purchase, thereby providing constructive notice to the owner.
Note: The court made much of the fact that the owner, in its stipulations to the court below, had itself referred to the various metes and bounds parcels within the area described by the Declaration, including the owner's own property, as "lots." In short, the court seemed to feel that everyone involved here knew what the target property was, so "no harm, no foul."
Reporter's Comment: While the owner's contention that the assessments were a restriction upon its free use of the land were clearly unsupported, it appears that the owner's hypertechnical tapdancing particularly irritated an unsympathetic court.
Editor's Comment: Even though this particular lot may have been identifiable, the owner might profitably have investigated whether the entire assessment scheme was equally clear. When there is a failure to record a plat, such failure often is accompanied by transfers of lots in a manner inconsistent with the scheme set forth on the plat. If the assessment scheme in the Declaration could not have been applied validly to other lots, then perhaps the scheme should not have been upheld.
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