Can I use negative publicity to compel an HOA to rescind a rule?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I use negative publicity to compel an HOA to rescind a rule?

I live in an HOA that has a rule against using HOA facilities for any religious or political purpose, such as reserving a club room for a weekly prayer legality of this rule, or the prospects of successful litigation against it…what about using negative publicity? Since truth is an absolute defense against an accusation of libel, would there be any restriction to simply putting out a press release stating the HOA’s rule and that many residents are opposed to it? Also, is telling the HOA that you intend to put out such a press release unless the rule is rescinded a violation of law–i.e., some kind of unlawful threat? I’m not aware of any restrictions in the CCRs against

public disclosure of HOA rules.

Asked on September 1, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) You are correct, truth is a defence to defamation suits. That does not mean that you might not be sued by the HOA, however: people and organizations do bring bad lawsuits sometimes, either because they don't appreciate that the case is bad, or to try to intimidate, punish, etc. the other side. So bear in  mind that if you do publish anything negative about the HOA, that even if you have a good legal defense, you could end up embroiled in litigation--factor that into your considerations.
2) You can tell them that if you can't resolve matters, you will bring this issue to the media (or social media)--that is legal, since what you are proposing to do--provide truthful information--is legal so long as there is no contract or agreement (e.g. nothing in the CCRs) against doing this.
3) If the community is publically funded in some way, including in it's initial construction, it is most likely the case that they cannot discriminate against religious or political uses of the HOA facilities: to oversimplify, entities receiving public funding generally are held to the 1st Amendment and can't discriminate against religious groups or on the nature of the speech or activity. But if there is no public funding, they can legally restrict or prevent religous or political uses: the constitution and 1st Amendment does not apply to purely private entities in that way, and private entities can discriminate in this way.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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