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Does the California Homeowner’s Association Infringe on Your Rights?

As more Americans find themselves living in privately-owned communities, more lawsuits arise from residents running afoul of the rules and regulations governing those communities. We navigate the lega

Does the California Homeowner’s Association Infringe on Your Rights?

Tom Fudge: If you live in California, and if you’re listening to this show you probably do, there is a one in four chance that you live in a common interest development. And if you live in a CID, you are governed by a homeowners association. Homeowners associations are the wave of the recent past, and most likely the future, when it comes to urban and suburban living.

In many ways, HOAs are just like municipalities. They collect taxes, which we call homeowners fees. They provide services and enforce laws. In a sense, they are democracies, since anyone is eligible to run for the board of the homeowners association. But they don’t necessarily respect due process and individual rights.

Case in point. A woman who lives in New Jersey’s Twin Rivers development is suing her HOA for refusing to let her put a c38aign sign in her front yard. She is claiming this is a violation of her first amendment rights. And if a municipal government were telling her what messages she could or could not put in her front yard, it certainly would be.


  • Evan McKenzie , political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of the book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.
  • Jon Epsten , president of the law firm Epsten Grinnell & Howell.
  • Dennis Lyon , president of the Bridgeport at Stonecrest Village Homeowners Association.