HBA Wins Court Fight Against Building Permit Fees with Help from NAHB Fund

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After nearly a decade of litigation and two trips to the state Supreme Court, the Home Builders Association of Michigan secured a resounding victory for the home building industry. In 2010, the HBA of Michigan challenged certain building permit fees as unlawful under Michigan's Construction Code Act. The act requires such fees to be reasonable and prohibits them from exceeding the cost of running the building department. But when the building department privatized, excess permit fees began going to the city's general fund. The HBA first had to litigate a procedural issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which found in its favor, and then it was able to litigate the substance of the case. Both times, the HBA of Michigan lost in the lower courts, but the association never gave up. Nor did NAHB, which through its Legal Action Fund awarded $50,000 in assistance throughout the litigation. On July 11, 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the HBA of Michigan’s favor, remanding the case to the lower courts for further deliberation on the budget of the building department and other issues, but still handing a clear victory to the home builders. "Our case reached the Michigan Supreme Court not once but twice with the court issuing a unanimous opinion in our favor each time," said Lee Schwartz, Executive Vice President for Government Relations, HBA of Michigan. "NAHB’s Office of Legal Affairs and the NAHB Legal Action Committee were with us every step of the way. Their generous financial assistance helped us to carry this case to a very successful conclusion.” NAHB's Legal Action Fund will continue to be there for members if needed. Applications are due Sept. 20 for the next round of legal grants to be decided at the upcoming meeting. Guidelines and application information is available at nahb.org/legalfund. For questions in reference to your application, contact Lavon Roxbury at 202-266-8359.

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