Know your rights if your HOA crosses a line

Being a part of a Homeowners’ Association can come with several benefits. You may have less to worry about in terms of maintenance and neighborhood disputes, and there may be many amenities you would not have access to if you lived outside an association.

However, HOAs are not perfect and an association’s rules can cross the line between protecting members and creating unnecessary restrictions. Below, we examine some examples of what an HOA can and cannot do, as well as what you can do if you wind up involved in a dispute.

Generally speaking, an HOA can place restrictions and limits on things like:

  • The color you paint your house
  • Your landscaping
  • Any item you place on your lawn, including fences
  • Whether you can operate a business from inside your home
  • Noise levels
  • Pets
  • Parking restrictions

Things that HOA rules generally cannot do include:

  • Violate fair housing laws
  • Enforce overly restrictive terms
  • Discriminate against certain homeowners

There can also be concerns with any terms that are difficult to enforce, arbitrary or subjective.

In most cases, the line between enforceable rules and unenforceable rules is clear. And you can choose not to purchase a home in a specific HOA if there are any rules with which you may not agree when you are looking to buy a home.

However, things can get much more confusing when the rules change over time or when they are enforced unevenly. Under these circumstances, it can be critical for a homeowner facing penalties for violations to speak with an attorney to understand their rights. 

When HOA rules or decisions cost you money or prevent you from full enjoyment of your home, it may take legal action to protect these things. HOAs have authority and some abuse this position, which puts homeowners at a disadvantage in the event of a dispute. With the help of an attorney, you can level the playing field and fight back against unfair or unenforceable rules.

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