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Homeowners Association Disputes

If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA) long enough, you likely will encounter some disputes between the HOA and individual homeowners. For example, HOAs are required to keep a certain amount of cash in reserves for unexpected expenditures. If an HOA's cash balance falls below a certain level, it may raise the monthly HOA dues to cover the shortfall. But homeowners may balk at the rate hike, blaming the HOA for mismanaging the funds.

This article provides a brief overview of typical homeowners association disputes. See How to Get Involved in Your Homeowners Association and What Homeowners Associations May Regulate to learn more.

Some of the disputes between homeowners and their associations are clearly misunderstandings, others are amusing, and still others are considerably more serious. Residents even have been sued by their homeowners associations for using the wrong shade of paint.

In one Atlanta case in 2003, the homeowner bought new paint after comparing it with paint chips from the color shade that was on the house at the time, but because the colors chosen were not specifically listed as "approved" colors by the homeowners association, the homeowner was ordered to repaint her house. A couple near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho was instructed to remove six pink flamingos they had placed on their front lawn; they admitted freely that the birds had been placed there in protest of the homeowners association's arbitrary rules regarding lawn ornaments.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the government's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, many people across the country adorned their homes with American flags and signs reading "Support Our Troops." In a number of cases, residents of common interest developments (CIDs) found that they were barred from doing so under the rules set forth by their homeowners association.

Homeowners association disputes are quite common but usually resolvable.  

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