Many private residences are subject to HOA rules and regulations of their particular Homeowners Association. The developer of a particular community, whether it is a complex of condominiums, a townhouse community, single homes, mobile homes, adult communities or any other neighborhood may establish an HOA to help regulate the appearance and maintenance of the development.
How does an HOA function?
An HOA has a board, collects fees, coordinates activities, develops and articulates particular rules, and may impose fines or other penalties if such rules are not followed.
HOA rules and regulations govern the entire community. Examples of HOA rules may apply to the appearance of a home, including landscaping, color, etc. Rules may also apply to how residents are to conduct themselves and manage their properties, as well as how they act in common areas, how common spaces are to utilized, etc.
What do I do if an HOA rule is unfair?
If you find that a particular HOA rule is unfair, or is being unfairly applied in your case, there are a few options as to how to proceed.
- Begin by closely examining your HOA’s bylaws to determine what the rules are, how they can be changed, and what methods HOA has detailed for having complaints brought to the board. Being familiar with the HOA’s rules will help you begin dealing with the issue in the most non-adversarial way possible.
- Communicate! Write letters to your HOA board, attend committee meetings, and contact your HOA leadership to get your concern addressed. Professionalism is critical in such communications, again with the hopes of addressing your concern over the rule in the simplest, most effective way possible.
- If you cannot change the rule, or have it reconsidered from the outside, you may want to tackle the HOA rules from within the association. Apply to become a member of the board, as most associations have regular elections. Many times there is much more opportunity to initiate change as a board member.
If all else appears to be failing, remember that you can take legal action. Contact an attorney, and even your local mayor and other government officials. In some cases, even the state can step in to help remediate situations when HOA rules have run amuck. For example, in Colorado in 2005, a measure was passed prohibiting associations from preventing residents from displaying American flags and other patriotic symbols. If a state and/or federal statute, like your right to freedom of religion, speech, and association, has been infringed upon by your association, you may have a larger case against them and consulting with an experienced attorney becomes essential.