Homeowners associations help maintain the standards of living within residential communities. They keep neighborhoods looking aesthetically pleasing.
However, despite their benefits, they can also cause frustration and cross lines. At times, they may even harass certain homeowners.
Excessive fines and penalties
One form of harassment by an HOA involves imposing excessive fines and penalties on homeowners. While HOAs have the right to enforce rules and regulations as outlined in their governing documents, including issuing penalties, charging disproportionate fines for minor infractions or subjective violations can constitute harassment. Fines must be non-discriminatory, non-arbitrary and reasonable. Retaliation for exercising rights like filing complaints is also illegal.
Selective enforcement of rules
Sometimes one or more members of an HOA selectively enforce rules against specific homeowners. Targeting individuals or families unfairly while overlooking similar violations by others for personal reasons is harassment.
Invasion of privacy
HOAs must respect residents’ privacy rights. This means they cannot intrude in unreasonable ways, such as conducting inspections of homes without proper cause. Homeowners have the right to enjoy their homes without unwarranted interference, as long as they adhere to the community guidelines.
According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, in 2021, 29% of the U.S. population belonged to a neighborhood with an association. Based on their guiding documents, HOAs have a great deal of authority over homes within their boundaries. However, abusing their power for retaliatory actions or because of personal vendettas or threatening, verbally abusing or otherwise intimidating homeowners is harassment. Homeowners who face such treatment can request a hearing or file a dispute with the HOA. They can even file a lawsuit.