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Homeowner will stand her ground in dispute with HOA

A homeowner who built a playhouse in her backyard for her granddaughter is now facing a lawsuit. Her homeowners association objects not to the playhouse, but to the color of the playhouse. The tiny backyard retreat for her 4-year-old granddaughter is painted pink.

The association maintains that the homeowner needed the board's approval of any color she chose for the playhouse. Apparently the association's rules and regulations require homeowners to run decisions involving "backyard structures" past the board before moving ahead.

The homeowner says, first, that the whole thing is silly. She argues, too, that the playhouse is not the same as a shed or a garage; it is more akin to a swing set, so it doesn't qualify as a backyard structure. Third, no one can see the playhouse from the street, so the pink cannot affect neighborhood property values. And finally, she says, pink is her granddaughter's favorite color.

She believes the controversy was started by her next-door neighbor and another homeowner. They objected to the color and took the matter to the association board. The board managed to escalate the matter -- even to the point of firing the homeowner from her board position.

Rules enforcement, though, is not entirely consistent, the homeowner says. There are plenty of houses in the 30-home development that sport uncovered trash cans or air-conditioning units. And, she adds, if she had purchased a pre-fabricated pink playhouse, the association would not have objected. She chose to go the handcrafted route, and the association is penalizing her -- or trying to penalize her -- for it.

Now, with the lawsuit pending, the association is set to elect new board members. If the new board objects to the lawsuit, the controversy could end. If not, the homeowner will find herself in court, with her granddaughter by her side.

Source: Today/MSNBC, "4-year-old girl's family sued over pink playhouse," Scott Stump, Sept. 13, 2012

Our firm handles real estate disputes similar to the one discussed above. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Maryland real estate litigation page.

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