Associations have architectural guidelines and rules for a reason.
However, times are constantly changing. New products, preferences, and laws change how people view and use their home. Consider some of the following scenarios:
Trucks/motorcycles: Many Association governing documents prohibit trucks and motorcycles. However, both are a very common non-commercial/recreational form of transportation today.
HVAC Venting: Many Association governing documents prevent any change to the building exterior. However, today’s 90% efficient furnaces require venting on the side of the home.
Home Business: Many Association governing documents prohibit a home business. However, a home internet business puts little strain on the Association’s infrastructure.
Satellite Dishes: Many Association governing documents prohibit satellite dishes. However, Federal law allows them in certain circumstances.
So what is an Association Board to do?
1) Review and rewrite your rules regularly. Make sure that they reflect today’s social, technological, and legal environment.
2) Grant waivers or variances to the Association’s Declaration when warranted. However, these waiver/variances must be thoroughly documented so that future Boards have a paper trail to follow.
3) Don’t let the courts make your rules. Court cases are very expensive with the results there from usually being very unclear.
In summary, be open minded regarding your Association’s rules and use restrictions. By doing so, community harmony will increase and your legal fees will decrease.