Homeowners associations can get into big trouble by picking the wrong fight with the wrong homeowner.
Want to infringe on someone’s First Amendment rights? Think you can bully someone into taking down a political sign because they disagree with your politics? HOA boards need to be careful who they pick on.
Check out this story in the Washington Post.
It tells how an HOA board in the Olde Belhaven community in Washington D.C., picked a fight with Sam and Maria Farran over an Obama for President sign they put in their yard in 2008.
The sign was four inches taller than the maximum limit allowed by the association’s rules. One HOA board member, Don Hughes, took a hardline stance against the couple. He wrote a letter threatening to ask the HOA board to put a lien on their townhome unless they complied.
But Sam and Maria Farra refused to take it down. They argued their right to display the sign was protected by the Constitution. The board initiated fines in the hundreds of dollars. The couple sued, calling the fines vindictive.
Now, more than four years later, the HOA is being forced to pay Sam and Maria Farra’s legal costs as well as their own. The tab is $400,000 and the legal battle has ruined the HOA’s finances.