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Any Case Law on HOA

Discussion in 'Homeowners Associations & Boards' started by Angus Gaffney, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. Angus Gaffney

    Angus Gaffney Law Topic Starter New Member

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    New Jersey
    I recently constructed a wooden fence on my property. My property is in a development with a HOA.

    The issue is as follows:
    The HOA had regulations which did not specifically prohibit constructing a wooden fence, but did require the homeowner to submit an “architectural change form” for any architectural changes to the property. Fences are not listed as an architectural change. After installation of the wooden fence, the HOA subsequently updated their regs to include fences as an architectural change, and prohibited wooden fences.

    Is there any case law in NJ supporting that without it being specifically listed as an architectural change, I was not required to apply to the HOA for approval for the installation of the fence, and that without them being specifically prohibited, a wooden fence is permitted.

  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Angus Gaffney likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Please accept my sincere condolences.

    To paraphrase a Chinese curse: Your life will be - interesting.

    OK, so fences aren't listed. Might not have to be listed. What is the definition of "architectural change" in your HOA documents?

    I found a sample HOA document online that defines "architectural change" as "any changes, additions, or deletions to the exterior of the residence or to the property."

    If yours reads something like that you would have had to have submitted the plans for the fence to the architectural committee or board and you could have easily been denied a wood fence as non-conforming. It wouldn't have needed to be specifically prohibited.

    That being said, I think the board may have created a problem for itself by redefining architectural change as specifically prohibiting wood fences after you built yours, implying that a wood fence was not prohibited when you built yours.

    What is the HOA board wanting you to do and what will be the consequences if you don't do it?

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