58. We bought a pretty shed and had it placed in our backyard. Now our HOA says we are in violation and we have to tear it down. Can they really do that?

To be in compliant with your governing documents you agreed to follow is paramount. Typically a homeowner follows those documents which outline permissible structures such as a shed if they are allowed at all. The following steps must be taken:

Ask your HOA if you can install a shed. They will review the governing documents specifically for sheds. If the answer is no, then it’s simply no and you do not install a shed. If the answer is yes be prepared to provide the dimensions and location preferably on a sketch of your plat. (sheds are also known as: outbuilding, workshop, bike storage, boat building, shack, outbuilding, storage building, tool building, lawn/yard storage building, pool building or cabana, barn, etc.)

Some, not all, governing documents in HOAs are specific to a structure’s materials, color, height, foundation, utilities, relative placement due to the proximity of a well or septic and may require a county permit. Governing documents may contain a clause that a shed must be a stand-alone structure or an attached structure to the home itself, or even an open wall structure. Some governing documents may state the number of windows, size of a door and possibly the number of stories (levels). You might also be asked if you are planning on storing explosive or corrosive materials in the shed due to restrictions in the governing documents.

The bottom line:
ASK before you do any structural changes/additions to be in compliance with the governing documents you agreed to follow when you purchased your home in an HOA. When ignoring your responsibility to follow your governing documents, then yes, you may be required to tear down your shed at your expense.

SEMANTICS: A rose is a rose is a rose – the meaning most often attributed to this is the notion that when all is said and done, a thing is what it is. Governing documents typically spell it out, though many times the name of a thing is obscure and left to the reader to define, ergo – policy could be considered AND with a majority vote.