Home owners' associations (HOAs) are organizations created by real estate developers "for the purpose of developing and managing a community of homes, town homes and/or condominium units," meaning that your home is subject to a neighborhood's vote at any time. It makes the community easier to manage for the developer, but sometimes it really leeches on its members.
weeping_pegasus asked Reddit:
Here are some of the horror stories.
My Dad owned a house in an HOA about 15 years ago. Overall it was nothing noteworthy, until the vice president moved and sold her home. HOA required all front yards to have one tree, hers didn't the entire time she lived there. Sold the house and the new owner was fined for not having the required tree. She was a single mom who had just gotten divorced so it's not like she had money for a full grown tree. When my dad moved he said that killed HOAs for him.
A friend of mine lived in an HOA neighborhood, but because this house had been in the family for generations, before the neighborhood was even there really, they weren't part of the HOA, they never had to join. The HOA only formed a few years ago, but apparently didn't realize that my friend, let's call him bob, hadn't even been told about the HOA. Bob is single and travels a lot, but he comes home one day to find a total of $13,000 in fines for his house being the wrong color, his deck being unapproved, and a bunch of other bs. So Bob outright refuses to even acknowledge the fines, just has the post office return to sender. A few months later he comes home to see that his deck has been demolished and his house repainted. Apparently the HOA had granted itself the right to correct any violations of exterior appearance upon failure to pay the relevant fines. Unlucky for the HOA, Bob happens to be a former lawyer, he quit the practice a few years prior to help the family business, but Bob still knows how to lawyer. Bob sues the HOA, and the HOA smugly thinks it's a clear cut case in their favor. Bob only had to say a few words in his statement, most of which was "I'm not f*cking part of the HOA!" The HOA ended up admiring liability and had to pay a bunch of fees, and ended up disbanding.
My house flooded 2 months after I bought it. HOA got involved and blamed my kids putting toys down the toilet (they are too old for that). I spoke to neighbors, found out 5 houses in a row had flooded.
We all got together and demanded an investigation by an independent plumber. Long story short, our HOA owns the sewage and water lines under all the houses that connect to city water. They had not been repaired for years or flushed out, and were made of a material that eroded underground, it backflowed raw sewage into the 5 houses affected and flooded the grassy areas with sewage also.
All my neighbors are senior citizens. The HOA admitted responsibility and held an emergency meeting to repair damage. My house was done last and I agreed with that because the other ladies are 70+ and wheelchair bound or disabled, I'm under 40.
By time my house was done, the sewage had been wiped up from tile floor and treated with fungal chemicals, but mold was growing in master shower and carpet was destroyed. They had to replace brand new carpet in bedrooms, drywall, paint new drywall a color I chose, and re-tile my whole shower. When old shower tile was torn out, plumbing wasn't to code, so that was done too. They spent about $15k on my house alone. I also told the HOA never to accuse my kids again.