Oct 30, 2008

Homeowner Jailed for Failing to Follow Association's Rules

For proof that complying with homeowners' association rules is important, check out this story: 60-year-old Joseph Prudente was found in contempt of court and jailed when he failed to resod his lawn, as his homeowners' association instructed.

Apparently, the Beacon Woods Civic Association didn't find Prudente's claim of financial hardship -- his adjustable rate mortgage payment had increased by $600 per month, and his car was repossessed -- to excuse him from keeping the yard up. After Prudente failed to respond to their continued demands to resod, or later to court documents, he was found in contempt of court and ordered jailed. The contempt order meant Prudente could be kept in jail until he complied with the mandate to resod the lawn, something he could not afford to do.

Prudente's case shows that if you buy a home in a common interest development, you must be prepared to live by the rules -- and you can't count on the understanding of the association when you want to deviate from them. For that reason, it's best to make sure you fully understand what you're getting into before you buy and know a little about the association's history for granting any exceptions.

Fortunately, Prudente's story ended happily: neighbors and strangers helped him resod as the association required, and he was out of jail a couple days later.