People who live in condominiums and gated communities in California are usually obligated to pay dues to a Homeowners Association. In exchange for membership dues, an HOA will maintain the common grounds in a planned community and enforce the rules that members are supposed to follow. HOA rules may govern things like how homes can be painted, how properties can be landscaped and whether members can build sheds on their properties.
Earlier in 2016, a North Carolina woman had a dispute with her HOA over a 10-year-old rose bush that was growing on her property. The HOA sent the woman a letter telling her that the bushes on her property were overgrown. Though the woman called to ask the HOA to be patient with her, the HOA decided to take matters into its own hands by visiting the woman's property and removing the rose bush.
The woman said that she was shocked that people working for the HOA would come onto her property and remove the plant. After taking the rose bush out of the ground, the HOA did not clean up the mess that the plant removal had created, and bricks were left in the sidewalk near the woman's home.
Property owners who have a dispute with their HOA may have some legal recourse if the HOA took actions that violate federal or state laws. An attorney may be able to help an individual who is involved in an HOA dispute to go over the HOA rules to determine whether the HOA's complaints were invalid. The HOA cannot enforce any rules that violate fair housing regulations, and HOA disputes usually must be mediated before the HOA can take actions that go against the homeowner's wishes.