Many California property owners live in neighborhoods that are regulated by homeowners associations. HOA boards are given the authority to create mandates about property features and impose fines on property owners that do not comply with them. However, questions about how much power an HOA should be allowed to have are often the subject of litigation.
A man living in a District of Columbia suburb won an HOA dispute over his selection of a mailbox for his property. When he purchased a home iin 2009, he installed a $35 wooden mailbox at the end of his driveway. Two months later, the man received a notice from his HOA asking him to swap the wooden mailbox for a metal mailbox that cost $500. The HOA also imposed a $100-per-month fine to residents who did not install an HOA-approved mailbox.
The man refused to change his mailbox and fought his HOA over the issue for seven years. Though other homeowners in the area shared the man's point of view, the vast majority of them complied with the mailbox rule to avoid fines. The man pursued his case because he was worried that the HOA would continue to abuse its power. Eventually, a court ruled against the HOA after finding that it had enforced the mailbox guideline without the consent of homeowners.
Not all HOA disputes take years to resolve, and most of these disputes can be resolved outside of court. People who are involved in a similar homeowner dispute may want to meet with an attorney to see if a negotiated solution can be found.
Source: Women Free Time, "In a community of million-dollar homes, a fight over a $500 mailbox ends in court," Lynh Bui, Jan. 23, 2017