PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When Neighbors Hate Neighbors

Over at the Faculty Lounge Al Brophy highlights a dramatic story out of Virginia about homeowners association that destroyed itself in a protracted lawsuit over a yard sign:

[The board of the homeowners association] passed a resolution allowing the board to fine residents up to $900 per infraction for violating HOA guidelines. Across the country, fining authority has been controversial, with HOAs hitting residents with levies for such transgressions as displays of colored Christmas lights and patches of dead grass.

Board members believed that they had the right under Virginia law, but the Farrans saw an illegal power grab that had no basis in the HOA’s covenants. When the board, acting at a meeting that was not publicly announced, rejected the Farrans’ roof and deck projects for aesthetic and architectural reasons, the Farrans said it was retribution.

“It’s like we weren’t living in America,” Maria Farran said. “You are always one board election away from a tyranny. They wield enormous power.” The Farrans filed a lawsuit against the HOA saying it didn’t have the authority to impose fines and had vindictively rejected their home improvements.

Steve Clowney

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