Virginia's General Assembly is considering a new law that would allow a homeowners association to impose fines for violations of the rules even where those fines are not included in the current homeowner rules and even where the rules have not been followed to amend the rules.

This is silly. Fairfax Delegate James L. LeMunyon is the sponsor of this rights killing law and was quoted in the Washington Post as saying

"the change is necessary to keep communities in good conditoin while making it less likely that disputes end up in court"

This violates liberty.

When you move into a neighborhood you can check to see

  1. whether there are "rules"
  2. what those rules are
  3. how they are enforced
  4. whether fines are a part of enformcement
  5. How the homeowner association rules can be amended.

After that you can use your own mind and decide whether to move in or not.

If the community rules permit amendment you understand that. Thus if the rules call for an amendment by a majority of the owners, you agree t that risk.

What you haven't agreed to is change of the rules on a whim, and that's exactly what this new law proposes.

If this was such a good idea (fines where no fines exist today) then its up to the homeowner's association to gather up enough votes and make the change.

This silly law does provide that

The bill provides that the powers authorized in the bill or by the governing documents shall be exercised by an association in good faith and not exercised frivolously, vexatiously, or primarily for purposes of harassment of the owner.

Just what we need. More non-objective law and now the need for courts to decide whether or not a HOA acted "vexatiously."

We oppose this law. If an HOA's rules don't provide for fines and someone thinks its a good idea to add fines, follow the rules for amendment and put the matter to a vote of the owners who's property rights will be affected. Simple

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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