What are Unenforceable HOA Rules?

HOA rules are great for the order they bring to your community. These rules help with providing structure and maintaining peace. But this doesn’t mean that the rules are always enforceable. A community might be operating on some unenforceable HOA rules. 

It is possible for an HOA to enforce a rule that comes off as annoying or offensive. Or even a rule that outrightly breaks a law. If you are uncomfortable with a rule in your community, you should speak up. By asking questions, you can gain clarity. Here are some unenforceable HOA rules and how homeowners can protect themselves. 

What are Unenforceable HOA Rules? 

HOA rules are rules that guide the community at large. Different associations have guidelines of operations, and HOAs are no different. While these rules help to govern the community, they sometimes are rules that can violate a law. When a rule violates a law, it becomes unenforceable. 

Unenforceable HOA rules are rules an HOA cannot implement. It cannot be enforced if a particular rule goes against a federal or state law. Here are a few examples of these rules.

1. Rules That Violate the Law

An HOA cannot enforce rules that violate the law. If an HOA operates on a rule that goes against federal or state law, such rules are unenforceable. Some of these laws are:

  • Religious Freedom: Any rule preventing religious freedom goes against the law. Several states’ laws opine that all homeowners have a right to freedom of worship.
  • Satellite Dishes and Antennas: An HOA cannot prohibit the use of satellite dishes and antennas. The Over The Air Reception Devices (OTARD) is against this. The most an HOA can do is limit the size of dishes and antennas allowed in the community. But it can’t restrict members from having them.
  • Discrimination: The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination against homeowners based on race, religion, color, or disability. Homeowners also cannot be segregated based on origin, familial status or sex. A rule deterring people of color from entering specific places is discrimination. And it goes against federal law. So, an HOA cannot implement such a rule.
  • Freedom of Speech: An HOA cannot prevent homeowners from expressing their views. Members are free to express their political views within any HOA. They also have a right to put up political signs to show their political affiliation. The HOA can only restrict the locations and sizes of these posts. 
  • Other Federal or State Laws: There are over a hundred other laws HOAs should abide by. To ensure you are not breaking a rule, scrutinize federal and state laws, so your HOA doesn’t break any. You can use the services of a management company to better prevent any legal issues from occurring.

2. Enacted Incorrectly

There are processes for implementing or correcting rules. An HOA can’t enforce a law on a whim. It can’t decide to declare a rule anytime it wants. 

An association has the right to amend or introduce new laws. But it must follow a proper process when doing this. If the proper procedures are not observed, then that rule is unenforceable. 

3. Rules Enforced Selectively

The Fair Housing Act forbids an HOA from discrimination. An HOA cannot enforce a selective rule. If it fines or punishes a certain class of people and not the others, such a rule is inconsistent. 

Another inconsistency might be an HOA trying to enforce a rule that hasn’t been in place for a long time. It will be unfair to punish anyone for breaking such a rule. 

4. Rules Enforced With No Authority

An HOA can fine or punish you if you violate any of its conventions, conditions & restrictions. 

However, it can’t punish you simply because it can. This will be an abuse of power. It goes against the law for an HOA to punish its members without a valid reason. 

Learn the CC&Rs of your HOA so you can avoid breaking them.

What Can Homeowners Do?

An HOA can’t be a tyrant to homeowners within the association. The board might mean well to the community, but it can also try to implement unenforceable rules. If you feel your board members are overstepping, here are three things you can do.

Option #1: Talk to the Board

You can talk to the HOA board about an unenforceable rule. You can reach out in person or via letter. Ensure you write professionally. State your facts clearly and how the rules may be violating a rule. If your facts are right, you might succeed at changing your board’s verdict.

Option #2: Dispute Resolution

As a homeowner, you can seek a dispute resolution before a lawsuit. You can do this through mediation or arbitration.

Option #3: Take Legal Action

If other options are futile, legal action might be the next step. You can challenge the validity of an HOA rule in court. 

Evernest Can Protect Your HOA 

If you own a property within an HOA, you are already familiar with the rules and regulations. Homeowners are expected to abide by these rules. But when a rule goes against your rights, you should question them.

An HOAs may mean well for the community. However, they might implement laws that are detrimental to the association. An association and HOA management team can help you prevent unenforceable rules. At Evernest, we help homeowners and communities maximize their investments. Contact us today, let’s manage your community. 

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