By Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W. and Rachel Brand
Colorado “common interest ownership communities,” (also known as HOAs) frequently regulate the exterior appearance of homes.
HOAs are free to adopt and enforce any building, architectural or landscaping restrictions they want. For example, governing documents can force homeowners to keep their property in good repair, including regularly painting their houses. Rules can even spell out the color and quality of the paint.
Or, communities can use an architectural review committee. Homeowners may be required to submit any color choices to the committee, which can have the power to approve or deny exterior changes.
These regulations aim to prevent “eyesores” and maintain a uniform exterior appearance. The goal is maintaining property values and community ambience.
Would these restrictions hold up in court?
You might find those rules intrusive, but when you buy a home in community with such covenants, you voluntarily and contractually bind yourself to those covenants. You’re also agreeing to the association’s rule-making authority.
So while courts occasionally strike down unreasonable rules, they routinely uphold architectural restrictions.
A court may intercede if an architectural review committee imposes conditions for which it has no authority. But it is generally not worth the cost and effort to challenge the committee’s authority. If you do, the association can simply adopt new restrictions to fill the gaps.
For more information, see Colorado Community Association Law: Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners Associations, by Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W.