I seem to remember a lecture during my Business Law Classes which discussed nullification of Community Covenants or By-Laws (an HOA for example) when a certain rule has been violated for x-years and no attempt at enforcement was made.

There was even some legal terminology to describe this situation. I don't remember if it was a state (Colorado) or Federal thing either.

Example: Someone is operating a VRBO rental against By-Laws of an HOA. This has been going on for 10 years. All of a sudden the HOA chooses to enforce this and a court finds it un-enforcible due to un-enforcement in the past.

1 Answer 1


Desuetude is the Latin word. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desuetude

Typically there is more to it than just that there was no enforcement for a while. It usually occurs when prosecutors agree not to prosecute and judges don't punish or punish harshly for it.

Normally an HOA is just rules for your apartment building and not actual laws so it would not apply there.

  • Excellent! That is the term I couldn't recall! I distinctly remember my business law professor at University of Montana telling me a personal story of how he used a Desuetude clause when purchasing a property with a shop that had been violating a restrictive covenant for 9 years. Purchased it anyway, was sued and ruled the covenant unenforcible strictly because it wasn't enforced previously.
    – maplemale
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 22:10
  • Yeah, some laws don't need to be enforced, I've just never heard of it being done with an HOA. I'm glad it helped if it did though.
    – Putvi
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 22:13
  • Well, if they're bylaws, they have the effect of laws and can be enforced in court. I would say it depends on showing the HOA knew about the VRBO and did nothing all those years. If the HOA is just getting wise to it, then they have a right to act. Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 2:15
  • They can be enforced in court because you agreed to them. They don't fit under desuetude the same way laws do.
    – Putvi
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 16:33
  • @Putvi What if I didn't explicitly agree to them? Say, this is a scenario where I purchase a property that has been in violation. This is more just curiosity given my law professors story (which he liked to tell a lot of them) about how he purchased a property in violation and it was deemed desuetude. Or, maybe in this case it was just some crazy judge cause to quote my law professor's statements over and OVER again he claimed: "Judges can be crazy"
    – maplemale
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 19:11

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