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My HOA in Colorado USA, has the following rule

Each Lot shall provide a fully enclosed area for containment of trash, garbage or other garbage, and each Lot at all times shall be kept in a clean, sightly and wholesome condition and grass and weeds shall be kept mowed. No trash, litter, junk, boxes, containers, bottles, cans, implements, machinery, lumber or other building materials shall be permitted to remain exposed upon any Lot so it is visible from any neighboring Lot or from the street, except as reasonably necessary during the period of construction. The Board of Directors, through its agents and employees, shall have the right and duty to enter upon any Lot and remove such unsightly objects and materials at the expense of the Owner, and upon due notice to the Owner and failure of the Owner to comply with this Section, such entry shall not be deemed a trespass. The cost of such removal shall he chargeable by the Board of Directors to such Owner, by Individual Assessment in accordance with Paragraph 5.3(c) hereof.

The board has recently started to enforce their interpretation that this means that our garbage cans must be hidden from view of the street. I can not come to that same interpretation based on this language. I think the cans themselves are "fully enclosed areas", and do not need to be hidden from the street. What is the board required to enforce it's interpretation of the rules? If I disagree is my only option to sue the board if I am cited by the board for violation?

Additional questions: If I fly a drone above the street and can see the board president's trash can, can I request that the president be cited for violating this rule? If I have photographic proof that the board has not enforced the rule in this interpretation since 2007 (when google street view imagery became available in my area), does that change the answer to the above questions?

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  • How are your garbage cans in a fully enclosed area that is visible to the street? If the issue is that, say, you have provided a fully enclosed area for garbage using chain link fencing that still allows your garbage cans to be visible from the street, for example, that would seem to be a reasonable interpretation. Or if you have used fencing that happens to be a few inches shorter than the new garbage cans. May 1, 2023 at 19:27
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    "Am I likely to win...?" is a request for legal advice on your specific situation, which cannot be given here. May 1, 2023 at 19:46
  • Your first mistake was buying a home that is covered by an HOA.
    – jwh20
    May 1, 2023 at 21:15
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    When requests for probability assessments are targeted at the outcome of a legal strategy, they are requests for legal advice.
    – bdb484
    May 1, 2023 at 23:37
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    @MichaelHall Personally, I'd draw the line much further down the road -- maybe at the preparation of legal documents and in-court advocacy. But the current state of the law takes a very broad approach to defining "practice of law" and "legal advice." But several recent recent SCOTUS decisions in First Amendment cases really undermine that body of law, so I'd bet that we get more guidance from the Court on this question in the next few years.
    – bdb484
    May 3, 2023 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

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Fully enclosed area means being inside something, likely a non-see-through fence. You will not convince anyone that a trash can is "fully enclosed; it is a container, which is called out. Your chance of litigating this successfully is approximately zero unless your goal is to spend money and force the HOA to do the same. You can certainly ask what the expectation is or examples that meet the requirement.

Your ability to fight your issue by citing other installations is limited unless they are forcing you to do something other homes are not required to do. "I can see your can with a drone" will not let you leave your trash can out.

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  • My question related to the drones is: How is "visible from the street" defined? is "the street" 6 feet above the street? 10? 100? 500? Said another way, does the "enclosure" have to have a roof?
    – Sam
    May 1, 2023 at 21:11
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    The terms you quoted in your question don't specify where "from the street" the visibility is checked. I'd say what would a "reasonable" person say here? If you were standing anywhere in the street and cannot see them, then you're good. Nothing is mentioned about drones or other overhead surveillance.
    – jwh20
    May 1, 2023 at 21:30
  • In any event, “enclosed” does not require a roof, only walls/fences.
    – Dale M
    May 1, 2023 at 21:45
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    @Sam, these things are interpreted from what the normally mean. Standing in the street. you can't twist words to mean what you want and hope to make an argument that way in court/arbitration.
    – Tiger Guy
    May 2, 2023 at 8:44
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They might be stealing city property.

In some areas, garbage bins aren't the property of the home owners, but of the city. If this is the case in your area, then for the home owner association to come onto your property and remove them would constitute the theft of city property, regardless of any contracts they might have with you.

Additionally, some areas have laws against interference with the city's waste collection processes and systems, and confiscation of your rubbish bin might qualify.

I'd suggest talking with city officials to find out what the laws governing rubbish bins in your area looks like. It's possible that the HOA is more limited in what they're allowed to do than you (or they) might realise.

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  • -1 Non-responsive answer. Whether the HoA is or is not in breach of local regulations regarding trash collection has little impact on whether the OP is in breach of the HoA regulations of whether those are valid.
    – KFK
    May 4, 2023 at 9:08
  • @KFK If the HoA can't enforce a regulation, it might as well not exist.
    – nick012000
    May 4, 2023 at 11:49

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