“We purchased our home 9 months ago. The owners who lived here prior to us painted the fence and now the fence paint is chipping. Our HOA is now contacting us stating that the painting of the fence is a violation of the Declaration of Covenants and we are responsible for replacing the entire fence. This Declaration existed years before we moved in. Why should we be responsible? Should the HOA have held the previous owners responsible when they breached the Declaration?”
From the HOA’s perspective, you’re probably the correct person to go after, because you own the property NOW. However, that doesn’t mean that you might not be entitled to reimbursement from the prior owners, especially if they knew (or should have known) that they were acting in violation of the Declaration.
I’d contact your real estate agent first, and see if you can informally work something out. Failing that, get yourself to an attorney.