People Share Their Worst 'Homeowners Association' Horror Stories.
When you buy a condo, townhouse, or other kinds of leased property, you're obligated to join that community's Homeowner's Association (HOA) and pay fees for the upkeep of the building or area.
It sounds like a great benefit... but it can also be a real pain in the butt with bizarre rules and strict guidelines that some people enjoy enforcing.
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I was once made to resod my front lawn. In the middle of summer with average daily temperatures over 100 degrees. During one of the worst droughts on record. While the whole city was under watering restrictions.
The new lawn (which I had spent several hundred dollars on) promptly died and they tried to make me replace it again, but apparently enough people had complained by that point that before I did they agreed not to make us replace our lawns until the water restrictions were lifted.
Confession bear time: I had to get up early for work (3am), so as I drove through the neighborhood I looked for people watering their lawns in the middle of the night on violation of restrictions. Most people were just trying to avoid being hassled by the HOA, I know, so I left them alone. But when I saw members of the HOA board doing it, I reported them to the city.
Had an HOA which regularly complained about petty things. I did fix them, but was super annoyed. I made a sign (very cheaply, white with black text) which said "Yard of the month" or something like that because it would annoy them greatly and wasn't technically against the rules. Later, they actually made a really nice and expensive official sign "HOA OFFICIAL yard of the month." (lol, really? I was joking). Nice graphics and nice metal frame. Really official looking. I noticed it on a walk at night when most people were already inside. I grabbed the sign and moved it to someone else's yard which was obviously crap with lots of weeds etc. Ya, that sign never showed up again. lol.
Ohhhh man. I worked in property management for a while and at one time I had a portfolio with 30 HOA's. And guess what I got to do? .....Write rule violation notices for all of them, based on what the HOA board members told me to send notices for.
Sometimes I cringed while putting them in envelopes, feeling so bad for fining some sweet old lady $50 for planting purple flowers when purple is NOT on the approved color list, and demanding she dig up all her hard work.
Or fining someone $75 for their garbage can being "too visible from the street."
Or demanding that someone plant a new tree in their park strip, then fining them and making them plant a NEW new tree because it wasn't "between 60 and 72 inches." It was 58. The board president measured it.
We had this one guy in our neighborhood who liked to build strange things in his house. Well I guess one day he decided to take his hobby outside and build a tree house in his backyard. Our HOA president was a city councilman at the time, and he was not happy in the slightest. This literally turned into a two year dispute where the HOA would keep asking him to add safety measures to the structure in hopes that he would eventually give up, and dismantle the tree house.
Eventually, the HOA told him that he would have to have the plans signed and stamped by a qualified engineer saying that the structure was safe.
At the next meeting, he handed in the blueprints signed and stamped by no other than himself. That was a great meeting.
It turns out that he had a PhD in civil engineering, and there was only one guy in the room that didn't find it funny.
Specific letter fonts on mailboxes. There will be no personalities here!
BTW I manage to keep chickens here because they weren't careful about how they worded the pet clause.
My father was fined for having a flat tire on his own truck in his own driveway. He did not even know that it was flat yet.
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The worst one I've heard recently is not being able to park in your own driveway. You HAVE to park your vehicle in the garage. Screw that!
Had a friend who moved into the suburbs and upon moving in received the thickest rule book I've ever seen from the Homeowners Association. The majority of it were allowed/banned lists; here are the flowers you are ALLOWED to grow and what colors of them you are allowed to grow and here are how many of them you are allowed to grow and what kind of pots you're allowed to plant them in and where in the yard you can plant them and how tall you are allowed to have them and so on, so forth, etc.
They had these lists for not only plants but things like statues you'd put in the yard (gnomes are allowed but they may not be more than three feet tall and may not depict any inappropriate material), the color you could have the house painted (it may be yellow but only THESE SPECIFIC SHADES OF YELLOW), what kind of wreath you could put on the door (wreaths may not be bigger than ___), when you could have BBQs or parties in your yard and what kind were allowed, how tall your grass could be, the kind of mulch you were allowed to use in your garden, and just so much.
You know how you sometimes step into a person's house and it's the kind where you feel like you can't sit down because you're afraid you'll ruin something? I felt like this as soon as I rolled into this neighborhood. Friend is still living there, I don't know how she does it.
Usually before work I go on about a five mile walk with my dog. I live in a condo so I walk about a quarter mile up the road and walk around in a neighborhood.
About eight months ago while I'm walking a golf cart with actual lights and sirens pulls up in front of me. This huge old lady gets out and starts yelling before I can even get my headphones out of my ears. Turns out walking dogs isn't allowed before 7 am according to the HOA. I informed her that first of all I don't live there and second of all the streets were all public so she couldn't really do much. She responded by threatening to call the cops and have me arrested. I just told her to do whatever she felt she had too and walked away.
This really pissed her off. She started following me in her golf cart with the lights and siren going. This continued for about ten minutes until the cops arrived on the scene. I stopped and talked with them for a bit and explained my side of things. Took maybe 20 minutes before they came back over to explain what was going to happen.
In the end I had every right to walk my dog at any time of day or night as long as I had a light when it was dark and had reflective clothing (I had both), as for her though they tested the siren which exceeded noise levels for anytime before 8 am. Then to top it off she didn't have it registered for use on public roads, and the tail lights didn't work. As I looped back around the golf cart was getting loaded onto a tow truck and I just kinda laughed the whole way back to my condo.
I have a bunch, but the one that sticks out is when we got fined for having a 2x4 in our backyard. Our FENCED backyard. In a place you couldn't see from public property.
I know a homeowner in Florida. The HOA used google earth to get a picture of the shed he built in his backyard and told him to remove it. When he didn't, they fined the crap out of him and tried foreclosing. The owner sued the association and won because even though it was a violation of the rules, his shed had literally no effect on anyone else in the complex. A lot of people don't realize that a lot of these rules simply aren't enforceable in a court of law.
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I know someone where his HOA prevents you from taking the trash out the day before pick up. Like if taking your trash out on Sunday night for trash day Monday was worthy of a $50 or $100 fine. 12:01AM Monday is fine, but 11:59PM Sunday wasn't.
I got fined for having a Halloween pumpkin on my patio on Nov 1st.
My nieces aren't allowed to color on their driveway with chalk.
Oh man, I used to live in a condo with a friend, and they did everything they could to mess with us.
When I signed the papers I asked the PMC guy if I could smoke on the balcony since I was on the top floor, he said sure they don't care as long as it's not inside. I would go out there in the morning with my coffee or cereal or what have you, and I would go out there after dinner. I always used an ashtray and never flicked my butts. Yet they told him I was flicking my butts out there and yelling really loud at somebody or whatever. No idea. Had to start walking down four flights of stairs and walking to the end of the block.
They lied and said we threw parties that lasted until dawn. Even one time where I was out of town and my roommate had stopped living there 6 weeks prior (moved back in with her BF).
They fined us for an oil stain in our parking space that was there prior to us moving in. Which I also thought was weird considering that they were redoing the parking lot at the time and it was only a matter of a day or two before my space would be redone.
We could only have one vehicle registered to our parking space. Any other vehicle parked there would earn us a fine.
We could only park in our space. Even temporarily. When I moved in, in December mind you, they wouldn't let me park in front of the building to move my stuff in. I had to park in my space and lug my stuff over the snow and ice.
Only allowed an overnight visitor 14 times per year. Not one person, any visitor. The president of the COA would walk around the block looking for unfamiliar cars (taking note of the license plates) and watch our condo. My friend flew in from another state for my birthday, stayed with me instead of a hotel room since I had an entire extra bedroom. She saw his over night bag, bam fined.
There's more I can't think of but they drove up a wall.
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I've dealt with some weird HOA's in my time. Let's see if I can remember all the weird rules.
1.) Fined 500 dollars for being seen outside wearing camo. (I had to wear it to go to work.) HOA president was seriously anti-government, anti-war, and anti-military. He pressed the issue right to the point some guys from the DoD explained to him the folly of his ways.
2.) Fined 250 dollars for not joining in on the block party. (I was asleep and had duty the next day.)
3.) Fined 50 dollars for not watering my lawn regularly. In a drought. Where the city would fine you for watering your lawn.
4.) Fined 400 dollars for parking in front of my house. No matter that it wasn't my car, but was the neighbor's. I was fined just the same.
5.) Fined 100 dollars for an unwanted display in front of my house. That display was a plastic Jack-o-Lantern during Halloween.
6.) Fined 50 dollars for putting up blackout curtains.
7.) Fined 50 dollars for putting up an electric fence to keep kids from cutting across my lawn to get to the lake.
8.) Fined 100 dollars for calling the police on a neighbor for beating his wife. (I didn't see him doing it, but heard it, as well as the screams for him to stop. The HOA fined me because they claimed I had disrupted the peace.)
My parents went out of town for the weekend. FedEx dropped off a notification saying that they missed a package and put a little sticker on the door. They left it Friday. By Sunday, they had another sticker on the door stating a $50 fine for leaving notifications on the door.
Never again man.
I was threatened a fine for not having my landscaping done before the end of 2007. I moved in the house Feb 2014... I had to go to the committee meeting and present my case, then 5 or 6 of my neighbors needed to discuss my fate. It took them until the next day to agree that I should not be fined.
I'm moving as soon as I can.
I know someone who lives in a place where they aren't allowed to own a truck because trucks are considered work vehicles and they aren't allowed. I'm sketchy on some of the details because I know there has to be service vehicles in the neighborhood at some point. But I do know personal and company trucks aren't allowed. Not even locked up in the garage. They are looking to move because she has to keep her truck at her mom's house.
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Only one basketball net allowed in the neighborhood.
"Basketballs are too loud."
In my city, a HOA fought to prevent a child with cerebral palsy from having a therapeutic playhouse built in his parents' backyard. US Dept. of Justice wound up suing the HOA for discrimination and not complying with the ADA. Family wound up moving because of all of the problems. The HOA wanted proof that the playhouse was prescribed by a doctor or therapist, which is the most asinine thing I've ever heard.
I know someone who had the HOA tell them they needed one more bush in their yard and drove by and fined them every day until they had one planted.
One summer I worked for a residential landscaping company. The major job we had that summer was this massive mansion owned by a family who owned an oil company. They bought a massive amount of land to build their house on, and wanted to buy the adjoining lot to build a guest house. HOA told them no, and I guess during the meeting the father (who owned the company, and was a no-nonsense type of guy, but was generally nice to us) may have called the president of the HOA a couple mean things and told him that he felt the decision was wrong.
Anyway, every day for a month while we worked on this site, we had someone from the HOA coming to inspect the work and trying to fine the homeowner/make us redo whatever we did. Make sure the fence was the right height, boards were spaced properly, paint matched everyone else's (that resulted in another argument because apparently we got the wrong paint but we didn't then suddenly we did again). They were looking at the amount of grass they had in the front yard, literally anything they could think of, they made sure to try to ding the homeowner on it.
The homeowner actually did get fined a couple times because we "left tools out in the open" (even though we did everything we could do hide them).
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I'm living under similar rules with my dog in my condo. Dogs must be under 35lbs and cannot be walked on any common areas that are carpeted, nor in the elevator. Pretty much all the common areas are carpeted. I live in a 32 unit building on the 4th floor. There's a back stairway that is tiled that I can use, but sometimes it's a bit of a hassle walking up and down 4 flights just to avoid their precious 1987 carpeting from being walked on by a total of the 3 dogs that live in the whole building. People destroy the carpeting more than any of the dogs could, spilling food and drinks in the common areas all the time.
People are always complaining that we don't use the "designated dog walking area" outside because there's "dog feces" all over the other outside areas. All three of us dog owners use the designated area. The other areas happen to be inhabited by numerous ducks and geese. I'm not sure people in the building are aware of this, but the precious geese and ducks that make the property so attractive with the pond area shit. They shit all over. The cleanest area outside is the dog walking area (which, by the way, is not officially designated in the rules and regulations of the HOA).
Recently, all residents received a letter taped to their doors stating that someone let their dog poop on the carpet because "dog feces" was found. Since the 3 dog owners all knew it wasn't any of us, we wondered how they were able to confirm that it was, in fact, dog feces that was found on the common area carpet. We later came to find out that the particular turd referenced in the letter was not from a dog. It turns out, one of the elderly gentleman in the building admitted to being the poopetrator. He has an incontinence problem and, for whatever reason, he had a bad accident and he was not able to get someone to help clean it up before someone else noticed and reported it.
Sorry for the long response, it just pisses me off every day, especially because I was not supplied with the specific addendum that had these strict rules when I bought the condo. If you don't want dogs in the building, just don't allow it. Don't make it so difficult to own one. There's also a specific "no rabbits" rule. I don't know what rabbit slighted someone in the past, but that's a silly rule considering rabbits would be kept in individual units where the owners would be responsible for damages and rabbits would never be in any common areas. I have a rabbit.... :)
My daughter has severe asthma. We bought our condo because it was affordable, clean, and move-in ready. We were trying to move before our son was born for fear a moldy house made our daughter sick and would do the same to our son. Our first summer in the condo the president's wife went wild and cut down the tire swing that majority of the owners agreed to let us have for my daughter because she thought it was ugly. Or maybe because we told her teenage son to get off the toddler-sized tire swing. After threatening legal action the association agreed to let us have the swing so long as it's removable. We hang a bird house there when the tire is down and only put it up when the little kids are out to play. The whole ordeal took over a month to settle. I dread this summer when we petition for a swing set.
Got a trampoline for the kids. They loved it.
HOA asked me to get insurance coverage for it, so I got insurance coverage for it and made a copy of the statement for them as proof.
HOA then faxed every incident report involving trampolines in the neighborhood to my insurance company referencing my policy number and sent a letter of disapproval.
Now my kids don't have a trampoline, and neither do any kids in this entire neighborhood now.
The saddest part is, on Google Earth it still shows the trampoline and my youngest daughter was sad when she looked up our address.
When I was working as a lifeguard, we almost called the cops on this guy because he was spying on the pool with binoculars from a ways away (some creepy guy we thought). We didn't because it turned out to be a HOA board member spying on the lifeguards/pool management to see if they were breaking any rules. They would also drive by really slowly and stare.
Breaking up is hard to do.
And when you get the law involved, it's even worse. But sometimes people don't need the law's help to make things overcomplicated, they just have a grand ole time making that happen themselves.
People on the front lines of human cruelty include divorce lawyers. These are their stories.