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Family sues HOA over backyard gathering spot dispute

Homeowners association disagreements can easily frustrate property owners from California to New York and all points in between, including a charming subdivision adjacent to a lake in Georgia. This is where one family involved with an HOA dispute resides. The problem started when the family's HOA nixed plans that the homeowners had to build a backyard gathering spot.

After this homeowner dispute resulted in fines and liens, the owners filed a lawsuit against the HOA. They claim that the association is violating discriminatory practices banned by the Fair Housing Act. The dispute began in early 2017 when plans were submitted to the HOA for a play area that included a spa-pool, a barbecue cooking set, a gazebo and other amenities. The homeowner says his architectural drawings and applications were prepared as per HOA guidelines.

After spending thousands of dollars and planting buffer trees to keep the outdoor accessories out of neighbors' views, the homeowner was asked to submit additional documents. His plans were eventually denied by the HOA, which cited issues with a proposed retaining wall and the location of a few other backyard items. The homeowner began construction anyway until the HOA stopped him with a restraining order. He claims similar setups already exist in the neighborhood. He also claims HOA representatives have made explicit and hostile phone calls since the dispute began. He is seeking a jury trial, punitive and compensatory damages and equal treatment in the HOA approval process.

With a similar case, an HOA dispute attorney may attempt to show evidence of unfair treatment. For example, the lawsuit discussed above contends that building inspections staff were actively looking for something to kill the project, so a lawyer might attempt to secure testimony from people with knowledge of such conversations. However, if involved parties can be reasonably civil, a lawyer may explore settlement options before going to court.

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