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Homeowners association: When disputes happen

If you live in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), you may find that you notice disputes happen between the HOA and homeowners in the community. You might even have a dispute of your own.

Normally, HOAs are reasonable. If they ask for all homes to maintain neutral colors, then any neutral color should suffice. That isn't always the case, though. For instance, there was a case in 2003 that involved an HOA that made a woman repaint her home because the new paint, which matched her house's color, was not on an approved list. That is arbitrary and not something HOAs should be doing, but it does happen.

What should you do if you have a dispute with your HOA?

To start with, be reasonable. If you've left trash outside or put decorations out that violate the HOA rules, it's probably easier to remove those things than to fight with the HOA over them. On the other hand, if you've violated a rule that seems arbitrary, there may be a case to fight it. For instance, if you're not allowed to have any sheds but put up a child's playhouse and are told to remove it, you may be able to fight the HOA by showing that you did not violate the rules.

You can work with an attorney to review your contract and decide if you violated the terms of any agreement you made with a homeowners association. If not, it's well within your rights to argue your position and fight against fines or other penalties.

Source: FindLaw, "Homeowners Association Disputes," accessed March 21, 2018

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