Recently, while searching the internet for interesting tid bits of homeowner association happenings, I ran across a blog entitled “Here are some of the Weirdest Homeowner’s Association Rules” by David Kearny.

Given the title, I was expecting a review of old and antiquated rules similar to the annual review of local laws that have never been repealed, but have long since lost their purpose such as, it is unlawful to fire a catapult at a building or it is unlawful to ride a horse while intoxicated.

However, what I found were not necessarily the weirdest rules, but rather well meaning rules that were in some cases just poorly written.

For example, the blog claimed that a rule prohibiting smoking, “even in your own property” was a strange rule. While I understand the author’s position that restrictions concerning activities inside people’s homes should only be used as a last resort, the news channels and news papers are full of stories of owners upset with smoke coming from their neighbor’s property into their home. These matters are often litigated with owners suing associations for failing to prevent the second hand smoke from entering their units. The only “weird” thing about this rule is that an association should not attempt to restrict smoking in a unit by using a rule, but rather should do so through an amendment to its declaration.

Another rule said to be weird was a restriction prohibiting dogs from using their paws within the common area lobby. While mandating owners to carry their pets does seem like an over reach, the rule seems to be aimed at keeping pets from running free in the lobby. This rule could be re-written to more closely address the prohibited behavior rather than prohibiting pets from using their paws.

What I noted of most importance with the blog, was that associations should review their rules on a regular basis to determine if the rules still make sense and are drafted in a clear and concise manner to address specific issues within the community. Rules should be used to clarify provisions of the declaration and should be written in such a manner as to address the concerns of the community.

Secondly, owners and potential purchasers of property in a covenant controlled community should carefully review the rules prior to moving into the community. The rules will give the potential buyer an insight into the community and how the owners have elected to govern their community. These rules may have a material impact on what the association deems important, which may not be what an owner finds important and may in fact impact or enhance the potential purchaser’s experiences.

David A. Firmin
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