Deborah Goonan, in her blog post, Independent American Communities by Deborah Goonan, quoting the article, Do Voluntary Civic Associations Have Authority to Enforce Their Covenants and Restrictions Over Real Property? raises a very important subtle issue of distinction — powers of voluntary HOAs over nonmembers.
While homeowners with a voluntary HOA well understand that they are not required to pay assessments, they presume that they are not subject to the enforcement of CC&Rs by the HOA. Deborah quotes from the article, my emphasis, “Usually when an association is labeled “voluntary” it means the payment of dues and assessments by its members is voluntary, not the obligation of owners to abide by the covenants and restrictions.”
The article makes the argument that the voluntary HOA, where given power by the state, can enforce the CC&Rs, not its rule and regulations or fines, or anything else pertaining to its members. In order to enforce its “rules” on nonmembers, the HOA must first amend the CC&Rs, which requires a vote of all the homeowners. Nonvoluntary HOAs use the term “members” since all lot owners are members, while the amendment procedure for voluntary HOAs usually refers to all “lot owners.” Big distinction!
SO, if the HOA comes knocking, check these requirements out. If the HOA does not meet these requirements, any legal suit can be denied as having no standing, or legal right, to sue.