What to do if in our neighborhood it says that no one can build a shed but we were told that we could and now are being told to take it down?

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What to do if in our neighborhood it says that no one can build a shed but we were told that we could and now are being told to take it down?

About 4 other neighbors built sheds. So, my parents asked if they could. They were told yes. It was built under the deck near their house. Suddenly, we get letters from the head neighbor guy and his lawyer stating we have to take it down. My dad told him we spent $1,000 on it. You said we could. He said he thought we were building a shed, shed. Idk what that means. Then my parents asked what about the other people’s sheds. The head neighbor guy said they can keep theirs bc it covers up their swimming pool filters. Doesn’t make sense. What can my parents do? I’m in the Navy and I can’t make heads or tails of this unfair decision. The rules are not being applied equally. Can you help?

Asked on November 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The first issue is, does either local zoning prohibit sheds like your parents, or are they subject to a HOA (home owner's association) or similar agreement which bans sheds?

If it's a zoning restriction, then there probably is nothing they can do, other than appeal to the zoning board. If there is a HOA agreement restriction, then they need to check 1) does it cover a shed like the one they built; 2) if it does, did the "head neighbor guy" have the authority to give them permission to build one--since if he could not do that (there was no right to let someone build a shed), it doesn't matter what he said; and 3) if he could give your parents permission to build, can they prove that he approved the kind of shed they did build.

Note that there has to be some basis for any authority to stop your parents from building a shed--again, something in zoning or in an agreement binding your parents as homeowners living there. Without an actual source of authority to prevent people from building sheds, it doesn't matter what the head neighbor guy thinks.

A good first step is for your parents to ask that gentleman and his attorney to show there where they get the rule against sheds. If there is such a rule, then your parents need to decide whether it makes more economic sense to hire an attorney to fight this or to just take down the shed.


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