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Is your homeowners’ association unreasonable?

As you may know, homeowners’ associations, or HOAs, exist to preserve the image and property value of the homes under the association’s jurisdiction. However, many Illinois homeowners resent their HOAs, saying the organizations exert excessive control, unreasonable demands and outrageous fines and penalties against homeowners.

As Realtor.com explains, HOAs can be useful if they keep your neighbor from letting weeds grow on his property and becoming an unsightly mess, or if they don’t allow outlandish decorations like a giant sports team flag tacked to the garage door or Christmas decorations on the lawn well past the holiday season. On the other hand, some HOA board members take things to the extreme by fining or filing lawsuits against residents or even kicking them out of condos for such trivial offenses as the following:

  • Having a dead lawn during a drought in which water restrictions are in place
  • Installing landscaping or yard decorations without getting approval from the board
  • Parking in one’s own driveway
  • Making improvements on a house or painting before gaining board approval
  • Having a pet that is slightly larger than the size restrictions imposed on pets
  • Imposing restrictions on landscaping or parking but exempting themselves from the same restrictions

If you find yourself facing a fine or eviction notice from your HOA, you may look into whether the discipline violates the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against a disability or your race, gender, age or political or religious beliefs. You might also want to check the association’s rules and bylaws to see if you violated an existing rule. You may have legal recourse to dispute an action against you, but this information should not substitute for legal advice.