A Legacy of Experience

Watch out for these unenforceable HOA rules

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2022 | Real Estate |

Being part of a homeowners association (HOA) in California has several benefits and restrictions. However, when it comes to the rules of an HOA, some are unenforceable and create legal complications for residents and associations.

Rules that restrict members unfairly

A host of rules can restrict HOA members in certain activities. However, not all these rules are fair or legal. 

For instance, California laws prohibit or restrict HOAs from controlling members’ rights to:

  • Peacefully assemble for political reasons
  • Use their backyards for personal agriculture
  • Keep a pet
  • Veto proposed rules
  • Restrict or prohibit ownership of firearms
  • Display patriotic or religious symbols

An HOA that has or attempts to pass rules against these actions can face disputes and penalties.

Unreasonable rules for property use

An HOA may set rules regarding the allowed appearance of homes and yards in the community and how residents use their property. However, some of the measures may be unreasonable – and thus, unenforceable.

Some unreasonable rules regarding property use can include restrictions or prohibitions on:

  • Residents renting out their property
  • Building or using accessory dwelling units (ADUs)
  • Having an antenna or satellite dish
  • Using electric vehicle charging stations or solar energy systems

Residents generally have the right to use their property for these purposes, as long as doing so does not become unreasonable or create dangerous conditions.

Any rules that they do not enforce uniformly

When an HOA sets a rule – a legal one – it must enforce it consistently. It cannot let one member break rules if it hands out fines or other penalties to other members.

Selective enforcement can trigger claims of discrimination and accusations that an HOA is in violation of The Fair Housing Act. Further, if a rule has existed for a long time, but the HOA did not enforce it until recently, association members could challenge their decision.

What to do if your HOA makes these rules

If you are in an HOA and it has or wants to enforce unfair rules, don’t ignore it or hope you never have to deal with it. You can take actions that include:

  • Attending meetings to voice your concerns
  • Following the rules for making objections
  • Pursuing appropriate dispute resolution processes

Should these actions fail, you can file a lawsuit seeking appropriate legal remedies.