While limited to some extent by state and local laws, HOA rules and regulations are also supported by them. This means that becoming a member involves entering into a legally binding contract. As long as the HOA stays within its authority and its governing documents comply with state and local laws, courts will usually uphold their actions if an issue gets that far. While rules are officially set in documents, the HOA can usually change them through a member vote or similar procedure, so there is recourse if a particular restriction or bylaw seems unfair.
Disciplinary actions by a HOA are typically in the form of fines, but in more serious cases may go as far as a lien on the property. For a sufficient offense, the HOA may even be able to foreclose on a home, depending on its rules. If an HOA assesses fines, even incorrectly, it may be better to pay them first and then contest the matter to avoid any late fees, penalties or other consequences.