RE Q&A: Are Paint Color Rules Enforceable? Maybe

If an HOA’s paint-color rules haven’t been revised in decades, they’re still enforceable if nothing changed the rules. But who created these “rules”?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: The guidelines in our homeowner’s association have not been revised for decades. A question came up about exterior paint colors. Are the homeowners still bound by the most recent, although antiquated, guidelines? – Ken

Answer: If the rules and guidelines were valid back then and nothing invalidated them, they are still enforceable.

Community associations can only mandate a color scheme if the community’s formative documents allow them to do so.

I have seen many communities without the authority to set specific guidelines, or require the approval of new residents, do so. When confronted with their acting outside their authority, the board members were genuinely surprised because previous boards had been doing it the same way for years.

First, you need to check your association’s documents to confirm that the board may have paint color guidelines. Then you will need to verify that the policy you are looking at is the correct one and was not replaced by rules you are unaware of.

Should this all check out, the community’s color scheme rules are enforceable.

A problem could happen if your community has long ignored these guidelines but is enforcing them now. All residents need to be treated equally, and a community association may not selectively enforce the rules. What is good for one resident should be good for them all.

If a board wants to implement the regulations again going forward, it will need to republish them, putting everyone on notice that the guidelines will be enforced again.

That said, any properties painted different colors when the rules were not being enforced cannot be made to repaint their home just to comply. When they decide to repaint their home in the future, however, they will need to follow the guidelines like everyone else.

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