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Christmas event leads to homeowners association conflict

Homeowners' associations are plentiful in California and across the United States. In most cases, these associations work to protect and beautify neighborhoods. Sometimes, however, members find themselves at odds with associations and their governing entities, leading to legal woes. This may be due to unfulfilled contractual obligations and complaints from neighbors, but it may also be due to causing a perceived road hazard.

For example, a homeowner in Idaho recently ended a legal battle with his neighborhood's association over complaints regarding a Christmas display. The display in question featured a live camel and nativity scene as well as over 200,000 lights, leading to large crowds gathering to take part in the event. Between the camel and the traffic congestion caused by the crowds, the event became a point of legal contention between the homeowner and the association.

After a years-long court battle, a jury awarded the homeowner $75,000 after his suit alleged he was being targeted for his Christian beliefs. The Liberty Counsel, a non-profit organization that focuses on litigation as it relates to the Christian faith, points to this case as an example of how homeowners can find themselves facing difficult legal challenges when it comes to expression on their own property. While the homeowner in Idaho won his case, he decided to stop producing his Christmas event to avoid future legal problems, meaning the homeowner's association still imposed its regulations indirectly.

A legal dispute with a homeowners association can be overwhelming. There are many moving pieces in real estate law cases, especially when a homeowners association and related contracts are involved. As a result, homeowners who are unable to settle a real estate dispute often obtain legal assistance. A real estate attorney can generally clarify where a homeowner stands legally and offer representation if the dispute ends up in court.

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