CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - Some North County families say they were forced to move from their homes or live in fear of retaliation from their homeowners association.
Now they are suing the HOA in part to get the bylaws changed.
"We moved here because there's a park near the complex and great schools,” said Amy Lass.
Lass says she and her husband liked the area so much, when they had kids they bought a bigger unit in the complex so that they could stay.
That safe and seemingly family-friendly environment also inspired Melissa and Nate Speer to rent in the community.
“It’s such a family community and neighborhood that this area you feel like it would be the same thing,” said Nate Speer.
But, both families say that family-friendly appearance was just an appearance.
In reality, they say some neighbors and the HOA turned their lives into a nightmare.
"If you didn't have kids you could kind of do what you wanted, but if you had kids it was like they were after you,” said Speer.
They claim they were repeatedly warned that their children were not allowed to play in the common areas of the property.
If things got too loud, the families say they'd get written warning notices saying the kids were interfering with the quiet enjoyment of their neighbors. If the noise didn't stop, there would be fines.
"The letter indicated you had to cure the problem,” Lass said. “I anticipate that meant getting rid of our children or we would be fined.”
In one example Nate and Melissa Speer say they had a group of kids over to watch the Women’s World Cup.
When team USA scored a goal, the girls ran outside and cheered.
Here's what Speer says happened next.
“They come back in not two minutes later all scared to death because the neighbors had screamed obscenities at them,” he said.
A day later Speer says he and his wife received a letter saying their children were not allowed to make excessive noise in the common areas.
That's just one example of what they say they endured.
Both families say they tried to take their concerns to the board but no one would listen.
They moved out and filed this lawsuit that describes years of being harassed about their kids playing outside in safe common areas - threatening letters and ultimately fines.
"Had the bylaws said children cant play when I purchased the property I wouldn't have purchased it,” said Lass.
Team 10 tried to contact members of the board to get their side.
But the community is gated, and there's no listed phone number for the board.
10News did reach the HOA management company who said in a statement "We take all resident complaints, including lawsuits, very seriously. Unfortunately, we cannot discuss details surrounding pending litigation."
"It’s not so much what the bylaw says but how you enforce the bylaws,” said attorney Craig Fagan who represents the families.
Craig Fagan says the fair housing act says communities cannot have rules that prohibit children from playing outside.
While a lawsuit might sound extreme - here's what both families say they are after, "we just hope in the future the bylaws get changed and that kids and families can have a great experience here.”