10 Common Defenses to Actions to Enforce Governing Documents

Members of homeowners associations are frequently confronted with situations involving claims by the association that the member is not complying with certain provisions that are contained in the association’s governing documents (Bylaws, CC&Rs, Rules, etc.). Typically, an association will attempt to resolve the alleged violations through the association’s internal dispute resolution procedures such as informal meetings, hearings, and mediation. When the internal dispute resolution procedures have been exhausted, the norm in enforcement proceedings is for the association to file a court action for injunctive relief and/or declaratory relief, and/or damages for the alleged breaches of the governing documents in question. How a homeowner responds to an association’s action to enforce alleged violations of the association’s governing documents depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. This article describes 10 defenses that might be raised by homeowners who are defending actions instituted by their homeowners association to enforce the association’s governing documents. An understanding of each of these theories would be beneficial to both homeowners associations and their members.