Homeowners associations are a wonderful thing for a community when they come together well and their activities represent the consensus of a whole neighborhood, but like many other volunteer and community-led organizations, they are prone to issues when territorial members try to seize control. That's why it's important to know your homeowner's rights when you live in a property that is part of an HOA. One of the most important is the right to be free from housing discrimination, codified by the Fair Housing Act. While HOAs are free to create many customized rules for communities, they can not create rules that codify and endorse discrimination in housing.
Your Right To Transparency and Consistency
HOAs are also bound by their own rules. Issuing nuisance fines over items that are not clearly in violation of the letter of the HOA's terms is forbidden, for example. So is lopsided enforcement if it can be proven because issuing fines for a non-violation and creating a violation just to enforce it against certain community members both end up with similar results from the point of view of the people targeted. Similarly, an HOA can not arbitrarily add new rules or remove them. They have to notify members and go through a democratic process as outlined in their bylaws to change those bylaws. Make sure you know your rights, and that your insurance is designed to help you robustly defend them.