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For those looking to live within a Homeowner's Association's jurisdiction – whether it's a house in a community, or a unit in a condominium – specific rules imposed by the HOA can be downright ridiculous.


Potential buyers who become aware of demanding HOA rules like maintaining manicured lawns "twice a week" can easily elicit a hard "no" response.

Basically, if the neighborhood you're considering to live in looks like Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, do a 180. Otherwise, you'll have your work cut out for you.

Curious to hear from homeowners on the internet, Redditor imback91 asked:

"People in HOAs: what's the dumbest rule in your Home Owners Association agreement?"

Petty Things

These Redditors complained of strict rules that may have been temporary inconveniences.

But perhaps the biggest grievance applied towards an unsympathetic HOA president.

The "Eyesore"

"House in the neighborhood caught fire. Luckily everyone was okay (they had small children), but the fire burnt a hole in the side of the house."

"While waiting for it to be repaired, the family covered the hole with a blue tarp to prevent rain from getting in and causing more damage."

"HOA fined them because the tarp was an 'eyesore.'"

L_bird

Callous

"The president of our HOA came to wish me well when both of my parents died (I lived with them, I was 18). Literally the next day he sent me a fine for forgetting to bring the trash cans in. I drew a middle finger on the paper and sent it back to them and then proceeded to park my car on the lawn until I was able to sell the house. Never did pay that fine or the fines they sent me for having cars on the lawn lol. I know I'm petty."

Russkiyfox

That's Just Garbage

drag race no GIF by Robert E Blackmon Giphy

"My old boss lived in an HOA that demanded that trash cans couldn't be at the curb for more than THREE HOURS before or after trash collection. She got fined all the time because she was working during those hours and would have to bring it in late."

theschullz

Power Trip

Some rules have no rhyme or reason for existing. Like fining people if they don't mow their lawns TWICE A WEEK or for not mowing lawns THAT DON'T EXIST.

Must be HOA presidents who are hungry with power.

Buyer Turnoffs

"When we were looking for a house, I was pretty against homes in HOAs, but I'd still look and wanted the bylaws available so I could see if they were something I could live with if I really liked the house. Like our last house we rented was in an hoa and the rules were basically 'keep the grass decently mowed, don't park cars or campers anywhere not paved, animals outside of a fenced area need to be on a leash. Thanks!' So yeah, normal things."

"We found a home we really really liked, but the hoa rules were absurd. Like you had to mow the yard 2x a week between the months of April-October but no mowing after 5pm (because noise) trash can't be taken out before 8am and must be back in the garage by 10 am on wednesdays, no food smokers without prior approval, all grills must be gas and have approval, no cars in driveways longer than 15 minutes" it was insane. No thank you."

Pm_me_baby_pig_pics

Christmas Has A Cut-Off

"My parents HOA is stupid strict. Can't have any holiday decorations up past the first week of Jan. My mom pulled a Clark Griswold and broke her ankle falling off a ladder putting up decorations before the holidays so a wreath was left on the front door longer than allowed. They got a letter with a picture and a threat of fine."

"A few summers later they and some of their neighbors decided to stick it to the man. They got a flock of plastic lawn flamingos and planted them in one of their yards. Whenever the HOA would send a letter the flock migrated to another yard. Kept it up for about a month and a half."

wherestheiguana

Mowing Without A Lawn

"The first month in our townhouse, we got a notice that we had not mowed our lawn and were in danger of being fined. We didn't have a lawn. The entire yard was covered in topsoil, seed, and straw. The 'lawn' turned out to be a single weed that was growing up in the shade of a bay window."

"I didn't pull it. I tied it to a stake and told them it was our garden."

Gruneun

Exercise Curfew

"Can't take a walk after 8PM."

"Reason?"

"People's dogs bark and apparently this is others' fault for walking outside..."

Wit-wat-4

Aesthetics

These HOA community rules for maintaining a sense of uniformity were scoffed at as they were created to benefit HOA presidents.

The Second Coat

Giphy

"We have to get HOA permission to repaint the house the same color it already is."

poopanidas

Matching Fences

"The fences on your property must all be the same color, and match the adjoining fences of the neighbors property. The community was planned single-family houses with fences between houses. Looking from the street it went House-fence-house-fence-house-.... I was in the middle of the row and had a shared fence with both neighbors, that each had their own color. I got a violation notice the same week I moved."

"If I painted my fences to match each other, at least one of my neighbors wouldn't have matched theirs on the other side. This would have sent a cascade of violations down the street."

burghguy3

Keeping Up With Appearances

"Not allowed to park pick up trucks in the drive way with two exceptions: the Cadillac EXT and the Lincoln Blackwood. These were described as luxury vehicles. The HOA president also drove an EXT so he basically exempted himself from the rules."

bolivar-shagnasty

Some Shady Business

"Everyone in my neighborhood was fined for having 'dirty roofs.' Seriously, they claimed that everyones roofs were dirty and made the neighborhood look bad. It's not like they were covered in mold or anything, hell idk how a roof is even dirty but 268 of the 284 houses in my neighborhood were fined $75 for it. We found out later that the HOA president started a power washing business and likely just wanted to drum up some business. He was impeached because of it and none of us even paid the fines."

"Edit: I've replied in the comments with this a few times but it should be noted; power washing asphalt shingles will ruin them. It's strips them bare and you'd have to replace them as a result. The HOA presidents son conveniently owned a roofing company, which was 1 of the 2 that were approved by the HOA to work in the neighborhood. So after he would have ruined your roof and made money from that, you'd have to hire his son to replace your roof."

ElMuchoDingDong69420

"The Issues"

Why can't HOA's just stick to what's important? They act like members of Congress, don't they? There are far more pressing matters but you want to focus on the trivial. SMH!

"Work Vehicles"

I remember a story about an HOA that told a resident he was not allowed to have a pickup truck because of the ban on "work vehicles" in the bylaws. There was no contractor or business sign on it, the truck was a personal vehicle. The HOA wouldn't budge. He went out and bought an old station wagon that he painted camouflage and stuck a picture in the back window of his brand new shiny pickup truck with a sign that said, "The HOA will allow me to have this car, but not this truck in my driveway." The bylaws were amended shortly to allow non-commercial pickup trucks.

- tacknosaddle

Go Away?

Go Away Reaction GIF by MOODMAN Giphy

Not allowed to put a welcome mat at my front door.

- pleetf7

Hush little baby...

Friend of mine lived in a building that didn't allow vacuuming between the hours of 1-3pm; the time of the HOA president's child's nap time.

- Lorraine367

Here's your fine for vacuuming.

I wasn't vacuuming,

Yes you were I have a recording of it.

I assure you I was no vacuuming, I was at work all day, and I live alone.

Then why did I hear a vacuum going inside your apartment

I set up a 2 hour long track of vacuum sounds to play automatically from 1pm to 3pm. They say music is good for plant growth, and my cactus hasn't done much recently so I though maybe it liked vacuums, have a good evening.

- Villain_of_Brandon

I Love Flowers

We have a landscaping committee. If you want to plant flowers, they must be approved by the committee before you plant them.

- Actuaryba

I have this rule as well.
When I moved in I noticed a bare spot in the landscaping facing my house. I was wondering what to put there and when I met my neighbour next to me I asked about what we were allowed to put there.
"Oh, nothing.... you're not allowed to add anything to the landscaping."
"Can... I put a potted tree or something there?"
"No. If you're really torn up about it though, you can e-mail the strata."
"Oh, do you have their e-mail?"
"It's mine. Here."
"..."

- FlatteredPawn

The Cul-de-Sac

This is stupid for how we were asked to handle it....

HOA covenant says trash cans can't be visible from street. We keep ours at the side of the house like half the neighborhood. You can only see them if you follow the outer edge of the cul-de-sac and are really trying to look for them. And of course that traffic is minimal since it is a cul-de-sac.

Management company told us put them in garage or behind house. I opted for behind the house where the entire freaking neighborhood can see since we back up to the main road into and out of the neighborhood.

- 3McChickens

So many colors...

My parents moved into an HOA a few years ago. I lived with them temporarily. One day, someone from the HOA went around to every house with a color palette of shades of white that were acceptable for mailboxes to be painted in. If the white paint on a mailbox didn't exactly match one of the shades of white on their color palette, the mailbox had to be repainted, at the expense of the homeowner. My parents had to repaint their white mailbox so its shade of white was acceptable.

- Spookiest_Meow

I prefer Red...

Shiba Inu Bounce GIF Giphy

In my neighborhood, we are not allowed to have blue trampoline covers. They must be green or black.

- nikkisissymaid

Cat's Meow

Not my HOA, but when we were condo-hunting we looked at one community that had a change log for their house rules. They'd been amended from no pets to allowing one cat per unit, and then two weeks later back to no pets. What did that cat do?

- Victoria_AE

Not Without my Camper!

My parents live in an HOA neighborhood. It didn't have a ton of rules or restrictions so they moved in. One of their main rules is you can't have a camper visible from the street.

In the county they live in you can't have a camper parked in front of the house (basically the front door is considered the front of the house). They knew this going into the house so first month they had poured a drive way addition that ran to the side of their house and into the back yard.

Their house is at the end of the street so you can only see this camper I'd you walk into their side yard.

One HOA sent my dad a pic that someone took standing in his yard. He copied the county's trespassing laws and gun defense laws to a letter and forward it to the HOA.

He hasn't heard from them since then.

- WillieMunchright

"True Meaning"

Isn't a neighborhood supposed to be welcoming? That is the whole point of community no? I feel like an HOA should be a band of merry peeps trying to keep the neighborhood happy for all. Who twisted the meaning?

Battle of the Pigeons

Not necessarily a rule, but my HOA has been having a never ending battle with pigeons since I bought my condo 5 years ago. Their latest plan was to leave trays of poison seeds all over the complex (on the ground, no less). This resulted in a pigeon corpses appearing all over the complex with no noticeable decrease in the amount of pigeons hanging around. After a huge storm blew the trays over, it also resulted in everyone being afraid to walk their dogs for fear of ingesting poison. A+ work HOA.

Edit- INFO- This post inspired me to go back through my HOA emails to refresh myself on the situation. The poison was put out by a pest company. I did some research on the matter out of curiosity. Apparently in Arizona, pigeons are not protected & it is legal to kill them, but use of poison is highly discouraged due to our large protected birds program.

- obernewtyn16

"Hedge" your bets...

I have hedges in the front yard. There's dirt under them because you know, plants grow from dirt. HOA comes by and says we absolutely can't have any exposed dirt, including under the shrubs. I didn't even know what I was supposed to do about that?? I just poured mulch over the dirt under the shrubs. They haven't said anything so I think that was the right thing to do. It definitely looks worse than just the plain dirt.

Wildest thing is that it was just the dirt under the shrubs for a literal decade.

- Kuneria

In the Dark

At my parent's house growing up, you weren't allowed to have the garage door open and illuminated after dark for 1) aesthetics and 2) bears. We got cited because we were packing for a camping trip, bringing things from the garage to the car in the driveway. When we pointed out how dumb that was, they said we could have done it without violating the agreement if we'd loaded the car in the dark.

- Morall_tach

Only White! 

You can't leave your trash cans anywhere visible unless it's trash day. For reasons too difficult to explain, it's almost impossible to get the cans in the back yard, so we had them at the side of the house (in the shade, practically invisible unless you were standing in our driveway). Fast forward to a letter from the HOA reminding us of that rule and helpfully including a photo of our cans.

My dad's/stepmom's condo association told them they had to get rid of a potted plant on their front porch because it clashed with their front door. Their WHITE front door. No colors clash with white!

- BarracudaImpossible4

The Insiders

Window washers hired by homeowners must be chosen from an approved list of window-cleaning businesses by the HOA.

- Back2Bach

Somebody is getting a kickback from that rule.

- B**chy_Ghost

I Spy

Binoculars Watching GIF by Originals Giphy

We are only allowed to have chained link fences. No wooden or any other fencing. I'm sorry, but I want some privacy in my back yard. Our houses are so close together I can see everything the neighbors around me are doing.

Edit: so I just checked hedges are ok. No mention of slats in the fences. Our bylaws are kinda vague.

- Saltyice18

The Welcome Note

I recently started renting a house in an HOA community. One of the first pieces of mail I received was from the HOA telling me that my fence had not been approved by the board and the house is in violation of the HOA rules. That was a fun note to get in the first week after uprooting and moving across the country with no money.

- yawninggourmand79

Worse than the Cops

I actually live in a condo now with a pretty chill HOA... the worst place was actually when I lived in an apartment in a town that didn't allow overnight parking. I had to park like 1/4 mile away in a municipal lot but had to have the car moved by 830am. Overnight guests had to be reported to the police so they didn't get ticketed.

When I busted my knee and was on crutches, I had to get a letter from my doctor faxed to the police dept in order to get special permission to park on the street near my place overnight.

After having to play "may I have an overnight guest" with the police, an HOA would have to be really nasty to be worse than that.

- questionfear

HOA Karen

When my parents bought the house I grew up in during the early 90's, they got a letter in the mail saying that they hadn't paid their dues for the HOA. They took the letter into the office and asked what fees they were referring to.

The office lady was really rude and pulled out a piece of paper saying that my parents had signed a contract and they were legally obligated to pay their monthly dues and follow the rules blah blah Karen Karen blah.

Well, when my parents looked at the sheet they supposedly signed, it wasn't their signatures. Their names, not their signatures.

Someone at the HOA had forged the paperwork, presumably bc they'd forgotten to get it signed. Needless to say, the contract was void and my parents refused to sign a new one. They were one of about 5 houses that they'd done this to in the neighborhood, one of which was our nextdoor neighbors. About 3 houses to this day still don't have signed contracts including theirs, and they get to do whatever the hell they want with their house, to the immense frustration of the HOA.

- puff_pastry_1307

""Find a Hobby"

Some people really need lives. I can totally understand noise issues, ugly horticulture, or bad behavior issues. But people are already paying a ton of money for the house and the land, so why do you need to pinpoint every little personal thing? Are these people's lives that dull or empty?

Control

The HOA I'm in currently is controlled 100% by the building company that developed the neighborhood. That control moves to elections once 100% of the plots are developed within the development for residential purposes. The literal last plot currently has a nice looking storage garage for landscaping equipment for the communal areas that the builder maintains. They've maintained control of the HOA for the last ten years.

They don't pester anyone. The only rules for appearances are that the property must comply with state/county/town codes for appearance, building, and fire code.

- Misfits9119

Attraction

paula abdul 90s GIF Giphy

My Friend lives in a neighborhood with an HOA and it doesn't let you paint your room any colors except white or light grey, because it can "attract attention" if seen through a window.

- Nirrup

Never Before 7

Can't be parked in the same reserved parking space for more than 72 hours. Kinda F'ed up they enforce that during a pandemic.

Can't park your vehicle with the front or rear bumper sticking over the curb.

Pick up trucks have to have a bed covering.

No kids toys, including bikes and scooters can be left outside when not being used.... got a fine for that one when my daughter took a break to eat lunch.

Can't have interior lights on past 10pm without have curtains closed.

Trash has to be put out behind your car after 9pm the night before it's picked up. It doesn't get picked up until around 7am. No fun when you have to leave before 7. No guidance on where to put it if you don't have a car or have to leave before 7. When asked, they tell me to just take it to the dump myself if I can't follow the rules.

- gsddxxx654

A Rigged Election

Dumbest rule in ours is when they pass something it only requires the majority of people who voted to pass it but to stop it from passing you need a majority of the entire neighborhood.

So 50 ppl vote and 26 vote for it and it passes but if 26 vote against it, it doesn't count because you need 51% of the 2600 houses in the neighborhood to vote against it.

- Flareside

Damn Leaves

They up everyone's HOA bill if they need to replace a tree or some bushes, well one time our HOA bill was in the 7,000 because they had a tree break one of its limbs, fast forward a few weeks there are about 20 new small trees and the playground got remodeled.

- Bell3432785

In Violation

I didn't even know about this rule until I sold my townhouse but the HOA had a stipulation that only certain loans could be used to purchase a townhouse. This excluded first time home buyer loans. That stupid rule cost me $8,000.

- eelzelton

That sounds like a violation of the fair lending act. I remember years ago I was renting a studio in an apartment complex that was going condo conversion and I contemplated buying.

They had a stipulation that you had to use their financing or pay a $1500 fee if you used your own financing. I worked for a mortgage company and asked about this clause and was told it was illegal to penalize someone for using their own financing.

- blk95ta

Fill the Gaps

Garage doors have to be closed all the way when closed with no gaps. The dumb part is that this rule was added because of me. I used to drive a tow truck and was often on call at night. There was already a rule that commercial vehicles couldn't be parked in the driveway or on the street, okay, fair enough, I'll park it in the garage. It wouldn't quite fit with the boom, so I'd lower the forks down and close the garage door on them. It wasn't too much longer after that everybody got a notice of the rule change and I had to park about a mile away after that.

The really dumb part is that when I confronted one of the board members about it, she claimed that had always been the rule and I knew about it when I moved in. Stuck to her story even when I showed her the letter of the rule change. Eventually, everyone got sick of that kind of crap and elected a new board, but I'd already quit that job so it was a pyrrhic victory at best.

- coprolite_hobbyist

Keep it Bare

directing homer simpson GIF Giphy

No car covers and no basketball hoops... Apparently, these are distracting to drivers. And nothing else distracts drivers going 20 mph, but it was very important to eliminate these very basic distractions.

The HOA representatives police like it's their job or something. Freaking damn losers, get a real hobby.

- Janemba_Corvalis

Into the Wastelands

Not me, but my parents--

- No BBQing between 4-7PM.

- First-floor curtain must be neutral colors

- Garage door can only be held open for more than 20 mins at a time unless you have permission (usually only granted if you are doing work around the house).

I would rather die than live in one of these wastelands. Just full of people who are mind numbing bored so they entertain themselves with petit-facism.

- sorrygirl818

"Understanding & Consequences"

I feel like the only way to truly understand an HOA is to join and try and destroy it from within. Infiltration maybe the only key to change. Because some of these places are being run like a communist nation. And we all know how that usually turns out.

We'll Pass

The existence of an HOA was enough to cause my wife and I to pass on buying what would otherwise have been our dream house.

- angryscout2

That was at the top of our "absolutely won't live with" list when my husband and I were shopping for our home. We found a dream home, and as soon as we saw the area, my husband literally said, "This will have an HOA for sure." The first thing our realtor said when we met her at the front door was, "There's no HOA here." We bought that house for that and many other reasons.

- SensualEnema

but it's our heritage...

We got fined every time we were putting out Indian decorations for every celebration. Diwali lamps (tea lights in clay pots) outside our front door were a "fire hazard", chalk and powder driveway decorations that wash away with rain were an "eyesore" (but kids could draw hopscotch blocks), flower garlands during harvest season violated the gardening rules.... but people could put up whatever decorations (including garlands) they wanted for Christmas, Easter and Halloween.

- Command-Cute

get your own waiver...

I'm not in one currently, but I was looking at moving into a park with HOA fees earlier this year. No dogs. 1 cat okay, but required a waiver. WTF? You need a waiver for an inside cat? It's a neat way to make you buy a house but still feel like you're under a landlord's eye. Why not ask that if you have an aquarium you can only stock freshwater fish, only two of them, and you need a waiver for a castle.

- march_rogue

Are you just bored?

My old condo had a rule that forced you to keep your recycling and trash bins against your house in the middle of your carport. This took up space meant for the length of your car/truck. Because of this rule, my extended cab tacoma stuck out into the street, leading to complaints about it sticking out in the street. The 80 year old busy body HOA lady told me I had to park the truck in the adjacent lot, not in my carport. I refused, since my tools would be stolen, then moved my bins into my walled in back patio, and parked my GD truck properly in my carport. Morons.

- DarthHoek

by the blade

surreal grass GIF by Mina Mir Giphy

My grandparents once told me someone from the HOA came around one time to measure their grass with a ruler to see if it was over the allowed length.

- ScotchPate

No 2 Wheels

Just bought a townhouse.

First thing I noticed in the rules (written in 1974) was "no motorcycles" but I bought one anyway and haven't heard anything yet so hopefully they realize how dumb and outdated that is.

- scottiebass

The Megalomaniac

There is a singular guy who runs the HOA. He doesn't get payed or anything, he just runs it because he's a power hungry moron. There is no legislature, he has complete power to enforce any policies he wants uncontested.

Right now, he's trying to fly drones through a private company to "map" out the neighborhood, even though it's 2021 and everyone has access to google maps. He's been hesitant though, because the residents have told him that if he flies drones through the neighborhood, they will be shot down regardless of légal repercussions.

I can't stand the guys he's a slimy "man" on a power trip because in the real world he's a looser.

- BillyTheSexyRedneck

Veggie Scandals

We are not allowed plants. It's a golf course but, really? My edgy neighbor planted some basil. So far, so good. We put up with possible fly balls going through our porch while drinking our coffee each morning, I think you could let us grow the occasional freaking tomato.

- Doesnotcarrotall

Reasons and Laws

There's a rule that you can only have a cat if you fill out this absurd amount of paperwork beforehand, and No Dogs. This was a whole big thing. Two months after we moved in the monthly HOA newsletter had an item in it stating that people who had service dogs were allowed to have them because of Reasons and Laws, &c., worded in the most cranky, passive-aggressive phrasing I've ever seen used in a professional setting. It was hilarious.

- hansfish

From Within

I joined my board in large part to clean up the rules. Right now, they allow "cars" and prohibit other vehicles including "trucks"

What's a car? What's a truck? Are we using EPA rules? A specific dictionary? Is a motorcycle a car? This is literally a law school fact pattern that my professor used to introduce interpreting ambiguous laws.

As far as I can tell, the rule has never been enforced, so after 50 years it's probably waived out of any legal force, but if that's the case, why have it at all?

Same goes for the many references to faxing. I'm 95% sure no one has faxed the HOA anything lately. The rules are pure legalese, which I'm fine with as a lawyer, but most of our residents aren't lawyers, so they shouldn't have to parse through 50 pages of not-even-good legalese to figure out whether they can park an SUV in the HOA.

- Fadnn6

mark wahlberg no GIF by Daddy's Home Giphy

All for $66?

Not a rule, but still an HOA story. So, I bought my townhouse in July and read my closing paperwork very closely. It said there were no overdue payments to the HOA, but there are 2 $66 payments due in July and November. No problem, I pay them but start to wonder why this isn't just part of the monthly dues. So, Christmas comes around and I check my bank account. I'm missing $66 and my HOA took out my normal dues plus that much. I call them the following Monday and ask what the heck is going on.

They say "the previous owner didn't make his $66 payment in March, so you have to pay it." I say "no, I do not. That should have been disclosed in the closing paperwork. Any payments he didn't make at this point are between you and him. I've made all of my payments for this year, so what you're doing is theft. You're going to give me that $66 back or you'll be hearing from my attorney." I got that money back 3 days later.

- TheMerk10

More than one thing...

It's not so much one single rule. It's bending their interpretation of the rules to whatever they want and selectively choosing facts to back it up. And then fining you for taking too long when literally half the time is spent waiting for them to respond.

- wasthatlatin

Shedding Sheds

Bought an older home in an older sub. Builder came in and built new homes around the older homes. A bother but oh well. Then he tried to enforce rules from the newer sub on the older sub. That was not well received at all and we refused to "join." His HOA enforced "no sheds." Many of us in the old section have sheds. One of his houses caught fire in the garage and went up quickly. Fire department said it was because the family had no shed and gasoline, mower etc. were a safety hazard in the garage.

- gracefull60

Be Original...

Gay Hearts GIF Giphy

My gf parks in the garage and I park in the driveway. I was getting quotes to get a little roof to go over my driveway to protect my car from our crazy weather.

Block charter states that the house cannot be modified from its ORIGINAL design that was built in 1986 to include a roof extension either permanent or temporary. We get a severe hailstorm at least once every 2-3 years that causes billions in damage to homes and vehicles. But FORGET THAT we gotta make sure all our houses look similar.

- rapalosaur

Many HOA guidelines are cosmetic-oriented with the aim of preserving the cleanliness and uniformity of the association's zone.

As you can see, many of these strict HOA guidelines​ were out of personal interests for the HOA enforcers.

But hopefully, in exchange for paying HOA fees, residences are provided with killer amenities – not limited to tennis courts.

Unless residences are required to mow those as well.

REDDIT

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