Can a HOA enforce fees that are not outlined in the by-laws?

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Can a HOA enforce fees that are not outlined in the by-laws?

We have a 12 year old lab with several health problems that we can not give away and just bought a condo that has a no pet policy. We were finally given the by laws 8 days before closing and couldn’t back out of the deal at that point and was told by the property manager that we fill file an exemption and should be cleared to have Bosco live with us. We just met with the board and they said they will not allow him in the building and will begin charging us $100 per day that he is in the building. There is no fine schedule outlined in the by-laws, can the fine be enforced?

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The HOA cannot do anything, or enforce any fees, for which it has not been given power. Therefore, if there is nothing in the by-laws or any other relevant documentation allowing them to charge you $100/day, they cannot do this--though they can, if there is a no pets policy, require you to not have Bosco with you; if you do not comply, they could go to court seeking a court order compelling you to remove him from the building. However, you may be able to sue the property manager for damages, if you reasonably relied on on his/her/its represention that you would be cleared to have your dog; it is also possible that since the property manager is the agent of the HOA, that the HOA could find itself bound by the property manager's representation(s) to you, and therefore forced to allow you to have your pet. You should retain an attorney who can review the situation, the by-laws, and any correspondence with you, and advise you as to your options. Good luck.

Hong Shen / Roberts Law Group

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The actual amount of fine may not be in the bylaws but the community certainly has a no pet policy, as you are aware now. Your real estate agent and the property manager, who let you to believe that you could have the pet, should be responsible. Gather evidence, especially written ones. Talk to these people first. Some time down the road you need to consult an attorney in your area.


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