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Legal Questions about Housing Association Rules

Typically, housing association boards comprise members elected by the residents. The board may frame rules and regulations for the welfare of the residents, as well as to maintain the property value and quality of life in the community. There may be instances of dispute between the property owner and the association that may result in lawsuits.

Below are some of the commonly asked questions on such disputes, answered by legal experts.

Can a housing association make contributions obligatory after amending its bylaws to the contrary?

If the housing association amended the bylaws to make contributions non-obligatory, it would apply to all residents who would have no obligation to make contributions. However, you need to check if the amendment applies only to new occupants — the association is legally within its rights to make such amendments — then the old residents will have to continue paying contributions.

I unknowingly rented a townhouse in a housing association that forbids renters. The association has circulated newsletters about me, which they refuse to share. Can I sue for defamation and compensation?

If you wish to file a defamation suit, you will need to find out whether what has been written in the newsletter is indeed defamatory. If the association is refusing to give you the newsletter, you may request your landlord to obtain a copy. You may also file a suit and subpoena the records.

Further, complaints against you to the housing board, especially if they are true, cannot be considered as defamation for two reasons —first, what they have said may actually be a true complaint against the owner and second, truth is an absolute defense against defamation. Unless the association exhibits conduct that is "extreme and/or outrageous” — behavior that is considered intolerable in a civilized society — you would not have a claim against them.

What is the maximum amount a housing association can charge for leaving my basketball hoop out within view?

Rules related to such matters vary from one association to the other, and each association is allowed to frame its own rules. You would need to check the controlling documents of the association for specific rules in this case.

Can the housing association — comprised of the owner and proprietors of the park — ask me to pay a rent of $300 because of my low credit score after I have purchased the trailer?

If, like you said, the housing association comprises owners and proprietors, then it appears that you may actually be renting the space from the “landowners or landlords”. This case is different from an association comprising of residents that maintains common areas for an assessment fee. Thus, the rent levied on the buyer would be legal unless what is being charged is unconscionable or shockingly unfair compared to what other park tenants are paying.

The housing association agreement is a contract between the association and the residents. Its bylaws do not have the force of law in any state. However, in the eventuality of a dispute, the rules of the contract will be subject to interpretation. Typically, associations comprise of elected residents who frame the rules in the best interests of the occupants. It is best to seek legal insight for a thorough understanding of the bylaws.
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