It is standard for HOA Architectural Rules and aesthetic restrictions to be contained in the governing documents for a common interest development. Typically, the state courts have allowed associations broad discretion on the content of architectural restrictions. Most cases addressing a community association’s ability to enforce its architectural restrictions when the following facts have been established:

  • The association has been granted the appropriate authority to enforce its architectural restrictions- a community association’s authority to enforce its architectural restrictions will be found in its governing documents, state and federal statutes, or common law. If an association exceeds the scope of the authority that it has been granted, its actions will be invalid.
  • The association has applied reasonable standards in making its architectural decisions- when an association’s governing documents require association approval before an owner may make a change to theseparate interest or common area, the association needs to have written procedures in place that cover the architectural review. Those procedures must provide a fair, reasonable, and expeditious procedure for making the decision and should provide standards on which common architectural decisions will be based. If the association denies an application, the owner should be given a written explanation of why the application was denied.
  • The association has adopted and followed reasonable enforcement procedures- an association’s governing documents must provide a fair, reasonable, and expeditious procedure for makingarchitectural decisions. The procedure should include provisions that specify the maximum amounts of time for responding to an architectural application and for board reconsideration after denial of an application by an architectural committee. All architectural decisions that are made must be made in good faith and may not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.

State laws and an association’s governing documents will contain specific provisions that apply to aesthetic and architectural controls that are imposed on owners and should always be reviewed. Typical laws and provisions in governing documents specify that: (i) decisions on proposed architecturalchanges must be in writing; (ii) when a proposed change is denied, the written decision must include an explanation of why the proposed change was disapproved and a description of the procedure forreconsideration of the decision by the board; (iii) associations must provide members with annual notice of the association’s requirements for approval of architectural modifications; (iv) the notice proved to members must describe the types of changes that require approval and must include a copy of theprocedures used to review and approve or disapprove a proposed change.

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