Posted on Jul 22, 2013

Whether modest or extravagant, one’s home is one’s castle, right?

Not necessarily, especially if a home is in a community with a homeowner’s association — an increasingly popular mode of living.

When people buy into associations, by law they give up some of their rights, said David S. Mercer, a partner in MercerTrigiani, a law firm that specializes in common interest community law.

Residents also get the benefit of living in a community that most likely won’t put up with a neighbor who thinks pink flamingos are cute lawn ornaments.

“If a homeowner association board asked me what is their job, I would say their job is to preserve and hopefully enhance the members’ assets,” said Mercer, who helped write the Virginia law on common interest communities.

Homeowner associations sometimes get a bad rap, particularly if an infringement involves the U.S. flag, a treehouse or other symbol of America.

“It’s the person who believes he or she has been wronged that makes the news,” Mercer said. “The majority is rarely heard.”

Virginia, with 8,600 homeowner associations, has the eighth-largest number of associations in the U.S., according to the Community Associations Institute, a trade organization. The state is the birthplace of many laws concerning homeowner associations.

“Virginia is considered one of the states to watch,” Mercer said.

He and his business partner, Lucia Anna “Pia” Trigiani, with offices in Alexandria and Richmond, are considered the top Virginia lawyers in their field, their peers say.

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