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(TNS)—Q: When I bought my home 16 years ago, I picked my lot, floorplan, brick and paint color from the developer. Recently the new HOA board picked a new paint color scheme without involving the homeowners. I repainted my home three years ago, and it does not need repainting. I was assigned a gray color scheme that would look awful with my brown brick. I was told that I must repaint it to assigned color. Can they do this? — Andrea

A: Homeowner associations may dictate the color that the residents may paint their homes only if authorized by the declaration of covenants.

And if the declaration lays out a choice of colors, the board or architectural committee needs to follow those rules and may not restrict an owner from selecting from those options.

Since you bought your home with the current color scheme from the original developer, your colors were most likely approved by the declaration. If the declaration does not give the board the right to choose colors, they may not, and you do not have to change the color of your home.

Your first step will be to carefully review your community’s formative documents. If your color is on the approved list, you can stick with it.

If the documents do not allow your association to pick colors, it cannot do so now.
If the board is exceeding their authority, let them know calmly and professionally. Point out the appropriate section in the documents. I have found that many associations think they have more power than the declaration gives them.

Most people who volunteer to serve their community are trying to do the right things for their neighborhood and do not know they are overstepping.

If this is the case with your community, educating them about their limitations should solve the problem.

If they still insist, consult a local attorney experienced in these issues.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Florida. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show “Legal News and Review.” He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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