Homeowner associations are governed by Michigan Public Act 162 of 1982 The Nonprofit Corporation Act. Long story short, if its in the bylaws and it is not an illegal provision of the bylaws, the homeowner association (HOA) can do it. HOAs are advised by lawyers to strictly enforce the provisions of the bylaws because if they do not, order will turn to chaos. Therefore, if you are in violation of a gardening rule for example, you can be fined and if you don’t pay your fine, a lien can be filed, and then later, a notice of foreclosure if you don’t pay. Furthermore, the HOA can enforce the provisions at its whim, seemingly waiving a provision, and then later enforcing it.
The HOA can be like a dictatorial boss whom you cannot challenge without matters worsening. For example, if you think the HOA is acting unfairly or in violation of the bylaws and you want to investigate, you may have problems getting access to the ledgers, books and records. If you rub the board of directors the wrong way, one or more of them may become retaliatory. The next thing you know they are on your property measuring your fence to see if it exceeds the height provisions. If it does, you get a fine and must pay it while challenging it. The courts will generally not rule in your favor if the HOA is acting according to a provision in the bylaws.
Even if you are on the board of directors, you may or may not have any control. You may be a patsy. For example, the bylaws govern notice requirements for directors’ meetings. A regular meeting may be held with or without notice. A special meeting may be held only upon the notice prescribed in the bylaws. You may be on the board and if the bylaws allow it, a special meeting may be held according to the bylaws and you may not have had any notice and thus, no voice or power.
One thing is certain, shareholders and board members must have access to the ledger and other books and records. This would include minutes of meetings. However, the board may stall or just ignore your request, requiring you to then write a letter, and next thing you know you are on the bad side of the board, irritating them and potentiating retaliation.