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What can a homeowner do when HOAs go too far?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Homeowner's Associations |

Homeowners associations (HOAs) are tasked with creating and enforcing rules to protect a homeowner’s investment in a planned community.

Anyone who lives in a neighborhood governed by a HOA should ensure they understand what these associations are permitted to do and not do.

Things HOAs cannot do

HOAs cannot violate federal or state laws, which means they cannot discriminate against homeowners based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability. This includes deciding who can buy a property within their community based on these protected classes.

HOAs are also limited by their own governing documents, such as the Declaration of Covenants and/or Restrictive Covenants and Bylaws. They cannot enforce rules or impose fines not authorized by these documents. For instance, if the governing documents do not mention pet restrictions, the HOA cannot suddenly decide to ban all pets over a certain weight limit without amending its governing documents. This is a process that often requires a majority vote from the homeowners.

How to handle an overreaching HOA

If an HOA is overstepping its authority, homeowners can take several steps. First, they must they should review the HOA’s governing documents carefully to understand the scope of its powers. This review can often clarify whether the HOA’s actions are within its rights. If a homeowner still believes the HOA is acting outside of its authority, they can try to resolve the issue amicably by talking to the HOA board or attending a board meeting to voice their concerns. It’s often more productive to approach such situations with the intent to find a mutual understanding.

If discussions do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, a homeowner may consider consulting with a lawyer familiar with HOA laws. Legal guidance can be valuable because it may offer strategies informed by the specific situation, including mediation or litigation, and the support to execute these strategies as effectively as possible.

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