I am in Florida and the problems we have with HOAs is a real nightmare.
The HOAs know most people cannot afford the $100,000 - $200,000 it cost to fight them in court so they do what they want, often after getting legal advice to do so.
It's a system where you are under quasi-governmental rule by a private corporation operated by your neighbors who are often people who failed at their careers and need the ego trip to boost their low self-esteem. It will never work no matter how many good laws the state tries to enact. This year Florida has a very good HOA Reform Bill being enacted, but that is rare. The big law firms, who represent thousands of the associations, have the money to lobby and get the legislation passed which benefits their clients, the associations, not the homeowners.
I think we Florida and other states should do what I have seen in some states -- let Code Enforcement enforce the deed restrictions. Most people will not become upset when a county official knocks on their door and tells them they have ten days to fix the problem or they will receive a fine. Everyone gets upset when they get a nasty letter from the HOA because they automatically think the president, their neighbor, wrote it and it becomes personal.
Just this past week I had an issue with a board president falsely pulling a gun on an elderly, disabled couple in Polk County. Are we going to have another Trayvon Martin situation? The wife accompanied my client to mediation, where the dispute was resolved. Evidently the HOA didn't want to resolve the dispute because three board members followed my client and her friend, who lives across the street, home. My client and her friend drove around to different areas just to make sure they would not be followed because they were sure something would happen despite resolving the dispute. When they arrived home (they live across the street from each other) a car pulled up right behind them, stopping suddenly and almost hitting them in the rear, and the board president immediately jumped out and started a dispute with my client's friend. He walked over to her home and started taking pictures. He engaged in a heated dispute with the couple when the husband came out his house. Later, he followed them to the common areas where the couple go every evening to sit on the boat dock and watch the sunset. The common areas were locked. When the husband asked the board president if he would unlock the gates, the board president, videotaping with his phone, announced "I fear for my life" and took out his gun.
If this guy feared for his life, why did he go to the couple's house earlier? Florida politicians -- pay attention!!!! The Stand Your Ground Law is being abused!!! The board president then proceeded to call the police who did nothing. In their view the board president was well within his rights. They did not know he went to the couple's home earlier and I guess the couple were too traumatized to think to tell the police.