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Homeowner fights HOA rules against bikes, playing on sidewalks

In California, those looking to buy a home will find that many homes on the market are subject to a homeowners' association. A HOA can be a benefit under many circumstances, but there are also times when its rules conflict with a homebuyer's desires or circumstances. It is best to research the rules and practices of the association prior to deciding to make the purchase of a residential premises.

One example of a dispute between a homeowner and a HOA is playing out in another state. A family with four children is balking at an association's rules that prohibit the riding of bikes, skateboards, skates or wagons anywhere within the development. The rules forbid the use of the streets or walkways for "playground" activities. The reason for the rule is argued to be safety.

The homeowner expressed total surprise in learning about the rule, especially since the development is not an age-restricted community. Playing on sidewalks in residential areas and riding bicycles through the neighborhood are such natural activities for children that she did not foresee a conflict when she purchased the home. In fact, one of the benefits to the homeowner of being in a separately-defined development is that it is often safer for children to be outside because there is generally less traffic in the confines of the community. In this case, a critical issue is whether the association can go so far as to restrict such normally accepted activities under the mantle of safety.

The homeowner may argue that a fair concern for safety may be confused with a rule whose impact is oppressive and unfairly discriminatory in practice. Experts, however, say that such associations in California and elsewhere can devise rules to protect the safety of the residents. They also add that the HOA cannot cross the line that conflicts with public policy, legislation or constitutional rights. For that reason, the homeowner has complained to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, asserting that the restriction unfairly targets families with children in violation of federal law.

Source:, "Las Vegas mom says HOA has 'no playing' rule on the books", Joe Bartels, May 18, 2018

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