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There are some rules HOAs can’t enforce

There are many benefits to being part of a homeowner’s association. However, there are many horror stories about homeowners’ associations imposing ridiculous or expensive rules. The rules seem to result from a board on a power trip rather than making life better for those who live in a community.

Fortunately, state and federal laws can control how much an association can control the residents. Below is a shortlist of rules they may not get away with.

  1. Discrimination: The Fair Housing Act ensures that people in the United States are not discriminated against. This includes such grounds as race, religious beliefs, gender, family status, or handicap.
  2. Some fines: The HOA may not be on top of its own rules, which means it may send out a threatening letter or a fine for grass that’s too long, cars on the street or whatever. It’s always recommended to check the association’s bylaws or rules. Residents can also attempt to appeal the fine — check to see if there is an official process first before doing it.
  3. Made up rules: Whether the board tries to sneak a quick one without going through official procedures or arbitrarily making changes, the members cannot make up the rules independently (unless that’s in the rules).
  4. No litigation: The HOA may have specific rules regarding arbitration, but the residents may still be able to file a lawsuit, particularly if the HOA is violating state or federal laws.

Engagement is often essential

Sometimes the squeaky wheel does get oil. Residents who feel the need to fight against a particular rule or change it can start by being engaged. It can start with attending meetings and going on record calling for change. It can involve writing letters to the board. Whatever the approach, make sure to follow all the rules so the board can’t legally dismiss or ignore your complaints or calls for change. If that doesn’t work, the next step could be hiring an attorney who understands the laws HOAs must follow.