Anyone familiar with HOA Case Law Regarding HOAs controlling public streets?

Caveman

Platinum Member
Nov 18, 1999
2,502
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I've seen a few anti-HOA posts over the years and figured this is a good place to start... FWIW, I don't mind the idea of an HOA that applies common sense and have no issue with rules that keep the neighborhood to a certain standard to protect the investment. I get the concept. That said, and without explaining every nuance, there is no way that a trailer in my driveway parked behind a pickup truck is violating the "intent" of keeping things from looking unkempt.

As far as trailers go, it's beautiful (fully constructed, not flatbed, weathered etc...) It's definitely not an eyesore or anything. It has a low profile and about 5% of it is visible for a nanosecond at just the right angle when you pass my house. I can't put it in the garage and if forced to comply, the only solution to be technically compliant to the HOA rules is to park it in the street in front of my house since public property can't be controlled by an HOA. And... every time I remind the HOA of this "solution", they typically go away for another 6 mos.

BUT... this time they wrote the following after granting the driveway park:

Also, in regard to the street parking. This is verbiage that was received from a lawyer regarding parking concerns and issues within another community, so in actuality the HOA does have the authority to enforce parking regulations even on streets.

"I frequently deal with arguments that the HOA does not have “jurisdiction” over the streets, if they are public streets. This is incorrect. The HOA does not need “jurisdiction,” and there is no city ordinance providing that parking on a street is somehow a right, or that a HOA may not limit street parking within its community. The fact of the matter is that Covenants are a contract among all of the homeowners. All of us have the right to contract away the ability to do things which we would otherwise have the right, or the ability, to do."


What this sounds like is some lawyer-speak taken out of context that begs many questions. I'm not looking to rub it back in the HOAs face but I do want to be prepared if they ever play the "lawyer threat" in the future, and I plan to do some homework on this. Guessing that the lawyer is saying that the HOA has every right to make pretend laws for everyone to follow but what's been excerpted is the illegal nature of their enforcement on publicly owned streets.

Is anyone here familiar with this sort of case law regarding the limits of an HOA to enforce laws?
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
56,229
6,250
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Sounds suspect to me. Dunno about case law, but I'd be willing to find out in court. Let them know you are too. You are, aren't you?
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
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HOAs are a legal experiment in private rulership and a way to carry on misconduct "privately"; i.e records can be lost over time with impunity. It's something crafted by lawyers to benefit themselves and management company cronies, along with letting local governments off the "hook" to some extent in being publically accountable.

With regards to streets, that depends specifically on the documents. Practically everything depends on the specifics within the governing documents. In my childhood townhouse, the streets originally were to be privately maintained by the HOA's funds, but the masters chose to give the land back to the municipality for maintenance and upkeep.

Key to the HOA's power is the private cost of rebuttal when they do cross the line. Someone might have a case, but they can't argue or research everything on their own, so they have to get an attorney.

Case law will vary state-by-state, so you're stuck with law libaries(cheaper, but they're usually either in courthouses or academic institutions) or lawyers(expensive, and you get very little for what you pay for).

You could try to making a Fair Housing Act complaint for disparate treatment or hostile environment.

But understand a "legal entity" has the ability to exercise its powers in full. "Discretion" is just that, and not necessary. People do not understand legal entities need not negotiate, especially when the cards are stacked in their favor.

"Protect the investment" is not a benevolent concept. It's to make sure able-bodied and younger white collars people buy into HOA communities because money>life. So, some Declarations or Bylaws will explicitly prohibited "commercial vehicles". A trailer could be something used for a commercial/trade purpose.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
64,358
10,602
126
At the end of the day what really matters is how much money you're willing to spend on the legal proceedings, lawyers etc. The HOA always wins until you can outlawyer them. Another approach is to destroy it from the inside. Get involved in meetings etc, and work you way towards actually being able to join it. If you can make it high enough up in the system you may be able to pull strings to abolish rules etc. This is not going to be easy and would become a full time job.
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
2,178
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At the end of the day what really matters is how much money you're willing to spend on the legal proceedings, lawyers etc. The HOA always wins until you can outlawyer them. Another approach is to destroy it from the inside. Get involved in meetings etc, and work you way towards actually being able to join it. If you can make it high enough up in the system you may be able to pull strings to abolish rules etc. This is not going to be easy and would become a full time job.
In my state, condo associations and Homeowner's associations are covered under different parts in the lawbook.

In the same childhood neighborhood, someone actually did go to "combat" with the HOA and got a partial victory; the HOA had no basis to fine, based on MD's corporation laws. The doctrine of "laches" applied to one of her violations.

The general point of the HOA is to prioritize property over liberty or life, and a homeowner consents to that, knowingly or not.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
90,519
12,358
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As far as I know the streets in HOAs are owned by HOAs. I don't see HOA having power over publicly maintained street. Check with your municipality on whether it is indeed publicly funded.
 

zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
109,243
26,803
146
I think what the lawyer and HOA are threatening here is that you can park it on the street, and the HOA can then take a vote from the board and your neighbors about whether or not they accept your solution. The city, they are saying, effectively has no power here and while they won't force you to do anything about your trailer, they aren't going to stand in and block the HOA if the rest of the neighborhood wants you to keep it off the street.

How well do you know your neighbors and do they like you? Time to start baking a shit-load of cookies! :D
 
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deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
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Depends on your neighborhood. If they are private streets (eg behind a gate) then the HOA and the neighborhood maintains and owns them and they can do how they want. If the city/county maintains and owns the roads, the HOA has no jurisdiction specifically over the streets, however that is not to say they cannot find something else to get you on. Similarly, nothing preventing them from bludgeoning you with the city/county codes pertaining to abandoned vehicles, etc.

If a trailer, RV, or anything of the sort was left in my neighborhood, they would get cited and towed according to the abandoned vehicle rules, or cited and towed due to preventing safe ingress/egress from another property. If that didn't work out, they would probably cite the homeowner for not following rules as it pertains to "visual" aspects.

You bought into the HOA, now you have to deal with it. My recommendation, go rent a storage space for vehicles, probably cost you less than 50/mo to just park it in an open lot.
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
2,178
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Going blindly, without knowledge of the specific prohibitions present, or if there are any explicit prohibitions, a rebuttal would have to involve something beyond a legal technicality of driveway vs street.

You would have to basically rebut the trailer itself is some "unkempt vehicle".

So, you'd have to highlight the age, condition, appearance, use it for, value, etc. Then, provide a statement that this trailer is useful property to you, and reiterate the relative obscurity of the trailer. Then you also have to scout and analyze the neighbor's properties to see how they use their yards; this is to see if there is some selective.

"After examining the declaration and bylaws of the community, there is no explicit prohibitions(I'm assuming) against particular vehicle types.

In addition, the amount of material harm to the community is minimal to nonexistent."

Contingent on the streets being actually public(given the lawyer not proclaiming they are private, they might indeed be), report that lawyer to the bar association for misrepresenting to the law to induce you to deprive yourself of property(monetary damage and use of trailer), liberty(time lost and flexibility to use property), and life(time lost). And this notice is improper due process since a "violation" cannot exist.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
19,150
4,084
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Read the the restrictions you agreed to when you purchased. In my neighborhood trailers and RV's have to be behind your fence. It's also stated that they "prefer" you don't park on the street.
I'm a little stumped as to why we even have an HOA. The docs mention common areas, but I haven't found one yet. I assume it's simply to prevent anyone from having a couple wreaked cars in the front yard, or running a day care.
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
6,438
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I am wary of HOAs, I wouldn't want someone telling me what I can and can't paint my house. I would not want to be part of one. If it is your property, you should be able to do what you want on it.

As for enforcement, I wouldn't think they have the ability to fine you. They are not the PD. They could take you to court, but I kinda doubt they would do that, it costs them money too. I would find someone from the HOA and complain to them about this, go full Karen mode :p
 
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Caveman

Platinum Member
Nov 18, 1999
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Thanks to all who have replied so far! It sounds like there may be (at least) one lawyer posting. I got some good laughs at some of the solutions. Really entertaining. I'm swamped right now but hope to get back in the next few days and respond to some of the queries and give a few specifics.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
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Thanks to all who have replied so far! It sounds like there may be (at least) one lawyer posting. I got some good laughs at some of the solutions. Really entertaining. I'm swamped right now but hope to get back in the next few days and respond to some of the queries and give a few specifics.
Torn Mind is not a lawyer, only a normal person masquerading as one. Take his view with many grains of salt
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
6,488
650
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I am wary of HOAs, I wouldn't want someone telling me what I can and can't paint my house. I would not want to be part of one. If it is your property, you should be able to do what you want on it.

As for enforcement, I wouldn't think they have the ability to fine you. They are not the PD. They could take you to court, but I kinda doubt they would do that, it costs them money too. I would find someone from the HOA and complain to them about this, go full Karen mode :p
Many areas of the country it's HOA or nothing. They have some issues (mostly when run poorly) but my HOA and the neighborhood also has its own playground, pool, gym, sports fields, etc. I'd prefer that and some rules to having to worry about a neighbor parking a car on blocks in his driveway for years or someone running a dog breeding company in their garage
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
64,358
10,602
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The best is unorganized township if you can find land in one. You can more or less (there are still some provincial laws but nothing too absurd) do what you want with nobody telling you what you can and can't do, and the taxes are super low. Don't need permits to build either.
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
2,178
136
Thanks to all who have replied so far! It sounds like there may be (at least) one lawyer posting. I got some good laughs at some of the solutions. Really entertaining. I'm swamped right now but hope to get back in the next few days and respond to some of the queries and give a few specifics.
Not a lawyer. Just an angry amateur who's been put through plenty of BS and...well...a shady tech company ultimate pushed me over the edge.

I came across something about non-economic damages or something....that's what made me become a law library rat...
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
2,178
136
The best is unorganized township if you can find land in one. You can more or less (there are still some provincial laws but nothing too absurd) do what you want with nobody telling you what you can and can't do, and the taxes are super low. Don't need permits to build either.
I think such a thing exists because Canada has shitty land in da tundra. :p
The US is simply too valuable to go that far, even in outcast places like desert Nevada or a lot of the Midwest.

Older suburb SFH development with public plumbing is usually the best one can do in the States. (Well water is a bitch)
 

Torn Mind

Lifer
Nov 25, 2012
10,332
2,178
136
Torn Mind is not a lawyer, only a normal person masquerading as one. Take his view with many grains of salt
Legal amateurs are still abnormal people because they already have learned more than the average normal person.

Unlike you, I actually have read the Restatement of Torts and also Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland

In addition, government agents often violate constitutional protections because they know the cost of rebuttal is higher than damage the action causes(otherwise known as Section 1983 claims).

Thus, your imperative to take my "view", which actually is quite representative of how the legal process actually works, is without any logical basis. Because people like you can't even masquerade as one.
 

Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
8,307
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I'm in that place with no regs. I do what I want, when I want, where I want.

We have county water, telephone, internet, even electricity. No regs though other than state laws that apply in limited situations. Weird stuff too. When they installed the county water 15 or 20 years ago and I ran the line from the house to the road, I had to have it inspected because I own less than 10 acres. Anyone who owned more than 10 acres (which is the vast majority of people here) was exempt from that inspection.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
6,488
650
126
Legal amateurs are still abnormal people because they already have learned more than the average normal person.

Unlike you, I actually have read the Restatement of Torts and also Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland

In addition, government agents often violate constitutional protections because they know the cost of rebuttal is higher than damage the action causes(otherwise known as Section 1983 claims).

Thus, your imperative to take my "view", which actually is quite representative of how the legal process actually works, is without any logical basis. Because people like you can't even masquerade as one.
You haven't taken a state bar, therefore your opinion on any matter is simply that, an opinion. I never positioned myself as someone who knew what they were talking about in this matter (like you) and therefore there's no burden on me to "state my qualifications".
 

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