What to Do If You’re Having Issues After Buying a House In an HOA

NYC-based boutique law firm Pardalis & Nohavicka brings the latest legal updates from the world of real estate. Pardalis & Nohavicka handles an eclectic array of matters, representing individuals and business owners in civil litigation, criminal cases and business transactions, currently litigating and representing clients throughout the United States and around the world. 

If you’re having issues with the board after buying a house in a homeowners’ association (HOA), carefully consider your options because litigation is a time-consuming, costly decision.

First, assess the merits of your claim. Specifically, review the HOA’s bylaws, declaration, and rules and regulations to see if your claim is in direct violation of any of these.

Second, maintain a proper perspective and consider whether your position is reasonable. For instance, given that the goal of the HOA is to provide for the common good of the members, there will likely be very little support to allow someone to engage in or exhibit disruptive behavior, such as playing loud music at all hours of the day. This is especially true considering that such behaviors are most likely outlined as unacceptable to a potential new resident before even buying a house in an HOA.

However, it is prudent to consult an attorney if there is a clear violation of state or federal law, such as the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status or disability. Likewise, when there is willful misconduct or bad faith exhibited by the board and there are facts that clearly support such a case, it would also be prudent to consult an attorney to give yourself a chance to achieve the best possible result.

That said, generally speaking, it can be difficult to dispute the rules if the issue doesn’t violate any federal or state laws. Moreover, many rules can be just pure nuisance and, as such, enforcement can be highly subjective in nature. Even so, a credible case could be made if it would be in the best interest of the HOA members if the rule were repealed (unless there are clear standards of application in place).

So, if your position is clearly against the rules, you need to be even more creative and invest a lot of time and effort to get the desired results. With that in mind, here are some ideas that are applicable whether your position is in direct violation of the rules or not:

  1. Appeal to the board’s sense of reason. Write a letter to them and be diplomatic to make your best case without being judgmental about the board’s decision. Explain how the current rules have affected your quality of life and, if applicable, those around you.
  2. Band together with like-minded neighbors and communicate with each other. Demonstrate to the board that your request is popular among the other members. Sign a petition requesting changes to the rules.
  3. Get on the board and/or replace the board. In truth, it will take a lot of work to get voted in and to stay involved, but it’s also a more direct solution than others because you will have access to the other board members to convince. Note that this is not a small endeavor as you’ll need to volunteer many hours to a thankless job that most HOA members take for granted.

Finally, if all else fails, the best option might be to sell your home and move into a non-HOA residence or try buying a house in a HOA with values that you share.

Make sure to read the first part of our HOA series: 6 Important Considerations Before Buying a Home in a Homeowners Association.


John Pak serves as the Real Estate Chair at the Law Offices of Pardalis & Nohavicka. He is a transactional attorney specializing in acquisitions, dispositions and leasing.  A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, he received his BA in Political Science from New York University.  Prior to joining PN Lawyers, John owned his own private law practice for 15 years and a title company for 6 years.

Taso Pardilis

Taso Pardalis is a founding partner of the Law Offices of Pardalis & Nohavicka, a leading full- service NYC law firm with offices in Manhattan, Queens and WeWork. Taso may be a well-known attorney with many cases making headlines in major media outlets, but at heart, he is a true entrepreneur that believes in supporting the small business community. His areas of concentration are: Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Corporate, Business Law and Real Estate Law.

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss is a senior writer reporting real estate trends in the US. Her work has been cited by CBS News, Curbed, The Los Angeles Times, and Forbes among others. With an academic background in journalism, Eliza has been covering real estate since 2012. Before joining PropertyShark, Eliza was an associate editor at Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive. Eliza writes for both PropertyShark and CommercialEdge. Reach her at [email protected]