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Homeowner suspects selective rule enforcement after receiving cease-and-desist letter from HOA: 'The board can be sued for harassment'

"Find the real issue and address that."

"Find the real issue and address that."

Photo Credit: iStock

A Redditor found themselves in a situation where they suspected they were the victims of selective rule enforcement by their HOA. They claimed the HOA took steps to shut down their small business run out of their house while other businesses were being run out of neighbors' homes with no issue.

Posted to the r/HOA subreddit, the original poster wrote: "I have recently started a small vermicomposting business and my HOA has sent me a cease and desist letter to stop it, citing covenants allowing only residential use. But others have been selling food etc from their homes without problems in my neighborhood. What are my options?"

Vermicomposting uses worms to break down kitchen scraps and other plant waste. It creates incredibly nutrient-rich soil, made mostly of worm castings (excrement). Because the process takes months, it's generally sold in small quantities, but when used as topsoil or mixed with potting soil, it can help plants flourish.

Vermicomposting also keeps kitchen scraps out of landfills. Food waste contributes an estimated 58% of methane pollution released into the atmosphere from landfills.

It's not uncommon for an HOA to restrict or prevent homeowners from making changes to their homes that can not only save the homeowner money but can also benefit the environment. There are countless stories of HOAs preventing homeowners from installing solar panels, transitioning to native plant lawns, or blocking electric vehicle owners from charging their vehicles at home.

Fortunately, there are ways to work with HOAs to change their established rules. But in this case, the Redditor got some advice that would definitely catch the attention of the HOA.

One commenter, who claimed to be an HOA president in Florida, wrote, "Name your neighbors who have other businesses [run] from home and use the phrase 'selective enforcement' as that practice is a fiduciary liability for the board members. If the rules are on the books, they need to be followed by everyone or the board can be sued for harassment."

Another commenter suggested a different approach, posting, "If you want to open a dialogue about acceptance, don't rat your neighbors out specifically. They will get letters too. Come at it from the standpoint of the issue — is it the traffic or the composting process itself that is causing the complaints. Find the real issue and address that, ratting out your neighbors will not help your cause."

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