How to Fight Your HOA Legally
Posted: February 15, 2023
If you own a home that was built in the last few decades, there’s a reasonable chance that you’re a member of a homeowner association (HOA). And while the purpose of such associations is to protect the value of everyone’s property, many people find themselves at odds with their HOA leadership.
If you do find yourself struggling with strict rules in your neighborhood, “getting back” at the association can be tempting. Rather than doing something that could land you in legal trouble, however, you can learn how to fight your HOA within the provisions of the law.
What Powers Does an HOA Have?
Despite being private organizations of homeowners, many HOAs do actually hold a fair amount of legal power. In most cases, homeowners forming an association will use a covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) document to lay out their rules. In accordance with the law, a CC&R gives the HOA the power to collect membership dues and levy fines against members who go against the rules.
Most homeowner association CC&Rs provide a comprehensive set of regulations that members and properties must abide by. These rules tend to follow somewhat standard formulas but can vary in detail and specificity. Likewise, bylaws can be added or changed by a vote.
If you neglect your membership dues or fail to meet the standards dictated by your HOA, you can be issued a written notice, and continued failure to comply can result in fines. If these fines are not paid, you may even end up with a lien on your property, which can affect your ability to sell your house.
How to Fight Your HOA Legally
If you find yourself on the receiving end of notices from your HOA that you deem unfair, addressing them correctly is key to coming out on top. Knowing how to fight your HOA legally can make the difference between triumph and costly legal ramifications. Every situation is slightly different, but there are some things to keep in mind anytime you’re deciding how to fight your HOA.
For starters, knowledge is power. In order for a penalty to be enforceable, your HOA will need to prove that you violated an explicit bylaw, rule, or regulation. Taking the time to read through your association’s entire CC&R can help you understand precisely what you’re being accused of and how to respond.
Knowing state and federal laws can also help, as some rights are protected by legislation. For example, an HOA cannot force you to take down a TV satellite dish from your roof under the Over-the-Air Reception Devices rule.
Another important aspect of how to fight your HOA effectively is how you respond to notices. If you do plan to dispute an action taken against you, it’s important to respond to any notices you receive and request an appeal in writing. This allows you to provide clear documentation of the entire situation if necessary.
Even if you feel that you have legal precedent on your side, it’s essential that you attend your hearing to argue your case. If you fail to show up for the hearing, your appeal can be rejected, and your fine will stand.
Know your Rights with BookLawyer
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Neal Nagely is the founder and CEO of BookLawyer, a free legal information site for individuals and small businesses. Neal practiced law in Dallas, Texas for 10 years before creating BookLawyer to help people get answers to their legal questions and have affordable access to a lawyer when necessary.
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