Homeowner Associations, at their core, should be a good thing. Nothing like an organized group of neighbors maintaining a close eye on each other to help keep your home values up. Without a doubt, no salacious or gossipy actions could derive from that, right? Surely, this type of all-encompassing control would never go to someone's head... right?
Reddit user, u/jepensedoucjsuis, wanted to hear about your HOA horror stories when they asked:
You Need To ASK FIRST!
My parents' HOA has a rule that you are NOT allowed to cut down trees without a "permit" from them, at ANY time, for ANY reason. The first winter they lived there, there was an ice storm and a tree fell onto the neighbor's deck, taking out his entire deck and the sliding glass door that went from his kitchen to his deck.
My dad went over with his chainsaw to help him cut down the tree that was now in his kitchen, and, MID-STORM, someone from the association heard the chainsaw and came over asking if they had a permit, to cut apart the tree in my neighbor's kitchen. IIRC, he told them to get bent and they tried to give him a $1,000 fine for "cutting down a tree without a permit."
I Pledge Allegiance...To Slippy Toad
We can only have 3 types of flags on a flag pole (that has to be approved) out front. An American flag, a military flag, or a South Carolina flag.
One of our neighbors were warned a couple times until they took their cutesy frog flag down.
Going Against The Grain
I used to live in a HOA. One of the members on the board lived across the street from my neighbor and I. He sent a letter to us saying that we all have to mow the lawn on the same day, at the same cut height, and in the SAME PATTERN to create uniformity in the neighborhood. My neighbor and I intentionally cut on different days and in opposite patterns just to annoy the guy.
"Classic" Is Just Another Word For "Old"
I had an HOA try to enforce that I had much to old of a car to be in the driveway. Mind you, no rust, always clean, never dusty/dirty.
Went to court and the judge ordered a full audit of the HOA. It was not enforceable at all, they paid my legal fees and last I knew they have yet to police anything
I was once "warned" about storing my trash in view of the street. I thought to myself, "That's funny, I'm pretty on top of the trash", so I checked the date of the infraction.
Sure enough, it was trash day.
They were upset at me about putting my trash out on trash day.
They Control The Horizontal And The Vertical
In order to sell or rent in my HOA, you must provide HOA docs to the new owner or tenant.
They must be bought from the HOA, otherwise the sale / rental is not legal. $200 for a three-ring binder with 150 pages of poorly photocopied documents.
The first page: These documents have not been updated since July 2002. Please see the HOA website for updated documents.
My friends HOA fined him because the flag pole that was already up in his front yard when he purchased the house, was too tall.
He countered by flying a pirate flag on that flag pole.
They are even less happy with the flag pole now.
Forced Payment For A Forced Change
My Townhome neighborhood has an HOA that covers the exterior of our homes (since they all share the same exterior, being connected and whatnot). My front door has developed a rotting spot on the edge, so I sent a claim in for the HOA to replace it.
They said the front door does not fall within their definition of the exterior of the home. That's fine, whatever, I'll just buy a new one.
But wait! I have to fill out an EXTERIOR CHANGE REQUEST to get a new front door. The door they said doesn't count as exterior needs an EXTERIOR change request sent to approve any external changes made. They want to control what my door looks like, but I have to pay for it
How Dare You Think You Can Play On An Open Field?!
I lived in a fairly large 'family friendly' townhouse community. There was a community baseball field, at least it was set up like a baseball field with the fences and backstop, but essentially it was just a giant field, further down was a playground and fenced in tennis court. It was meant to be used there were dozens of kids playing baseball, football, soccer, or whatever on it all the time.
For really no reason they decided to shut it down. Overnight they put up signs to not use it and keep out. If your kids dared to even walk across it police would be called in minutes. We were playing tennis on the courts one day and police were called, the next day it was locked up with a chain and combination lock.
We called the hoa and were told we would have to give them proof we actually played tennis to be given the combination. My parents and a lot of other parents got in long arguments on the phone and at the hoa meetings about why they made these ridiculous new rules, they were essentially told 'because we can.' It became a war in the community against the old ladies that ran the hoa and the younger families with kids.
Names Have Power
Um. Does, "you must address us as 'Boardmember NAME' or you'll be fined," count?
That is neat. I would have addressed them in many ways. None of which would have been suitable for broadcast...
We were renters but the HOA sent us a letter one time about us having too many cars in our driveway.
Legit, IN our driveway, not even on the street or curb or anything. We had like 4 or 5 cars the week we moved in because we moved long distance and had friends and family come down to help.
Toy Cars = Real Cars
My niece when she was a toddler had a toy car that you can get inside & drive around using your feet. It was sitting in the back yard for a good 6 months when we were given a compliance notice about it being unauthorized on the property and must be removed.
I was using my dads truck for a side job once a week, and one week it was cancelled. It was sitting in our driveway 'too long' and had a police officer knock on the door telling me I have to move it.
Each house has a small tree planted out front (was a new neighborhood). Ours was broken into two due to strong winds one day which the HOA replaced for free. It proceeded to snap in half THREE MORE TIMES, but the HOA only covered the first one so we had to pay for it.
Have a few others but HOAs are garbage, although it didn't help we were next door to the VP (which was a total d-ckhead). Why buy a house and have someone else tell you how to live in it?
Pool Duty Is Serious Business
I had a friend in college whose parents bought a house in a gated community, then they moved back to China and left the house for him to live in. He had 6 friends over (maximum amount of guests allowed) one day. We hung out in the house for a bit, and went into the pool while nobody else was in it. Pool max was 6 people, so when a couple came to sit by the pool (didn't bring towels), they kicked the whole group out because we were one person over the limit (even though we were being respectful). This caused enough of a community outrage that another neighbour came over at 10:00 pm (the weekend noise curfew was 11:00) and told us we couldn't be up talking all night (we were at a respectful noise level).
I guess the host had already gotten in trouble because he previously rented a room out to a classmate, not realizing the rules, and the whole community was watching like every step of his ever since.
Cameras In The Oven, Maybe?
Live in an HOA where you aren't allowed to do dishes or laundry after 9pm
Like... how the f-ck is that enforceable?
Don't You Tell Me How To Use My Bubbles!
Can't wash your car with too many bubbles. My dad's friend lived in a strata (same thing as an HOA) and had a guy come by saying that he was using too much of the wrong soap. He sprayed him with his hose and the guy never came back until his wife was home alone.
Then he proceeded to harrass the wife about having window boxes full of flowers to help the bees, and the wrong shade of white ("two shades off") for her curtains. He moved about half a year later.
That's Right. Blame The Kids.
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
They Have That Kind Of Power?
In my city they enforce "dark sky" compliance.
My neighbor upgraded his exterior lights from ones that point down to ones that point up and he received a threat from the HOA that they could put a lien on his mortgage if he did not change them back.
Here's A List For Ya'
- any change to front or back yard has to be submitted on an application with $25 fee for small changes, and $50 fee for large changes. fee doesn't guarantee your application will be approved.
- house can only be painted from list of 7 paint colors from specific brand that isn't available at normal hardware stores.
- you forget to submit application before doing any landscaping? spend the next several months having to leave work early to go to HOA meetings to essentially beg the board to give you permission to do something all your neighbors already have.
- threatened with a fine for having a section of the house (on the SIDE) unpainted after having windows replaced because HOA doesn't understand that painters have waiting lists.
- threatened with a fine for having a dumpster on the lawn despite this never actually happening.
- threatened with a fine for having a thin tree branch sticking out over the sidewalk (my mom's power move after this one was to have the tree cut down the next day, then immediately call the HOA to tell them it was no longer a problem; they were smart enough to let that one go).
- get told by a board member that none of the plants on your landscaping plan for the backyard are "on the approved plant list" and start to feel like you're in hell until someone in the audience at the meeting points out that there is no "approved plant list", only a "suggested plant list"
- not a rule but related: get woken up at 1 am by the 19 year-old armed security guard that patrols the neighborhood (aka the stupidest waste of HOA fees they've conceived of yet) to inform you that he's "doing you a favor" because your car is parked on the side of the road and he's gonna have to give you a citation and he "knows how hard the sticky stuff is to get off" so he thought he'd just wake everyone up to let you know instead of sticking it on the car. then call his supervisor to complain, know she's about to ream his a--, then lie awake afraid that the guy with a gun who knows where you live and who exactly it was that just got him in trouble is going to come back very, very angry.
They had someone go around and check if the dogs are leashed, if not the they call animal control to have them taken away.
HOA has called animal control on people who have their dogs leashed, their reason?
The length of the leash was either too long or too short.
They tried to take away one guy's dogs for that reason and that sparked a war between the HOA head and the homeowner who was a former Marine (I think) and all around madman.
HOA head did not stand a chance against a retired crazy person who had a lot of time and money.
Crazy guy built a pool and let everyone used it for free, making the $20/month pool the HOA set up useless. Crazy guy also held a giant all inclusive party that had menus for everyone and any police that came to check on it left with to go bags. He also had a Halloween party, as the HOA did not allow trick or treating.
Crazy guy was well loved and the head was ousted from the HOA after she tried to break into crazy guy's house.
The ban on trick or treating has been there way before the former head took charge, the neighborhood had only white people living in it until the 90s and it became diverse after that. I guess the ban was put so the people that had it put didn't want to be disturbed, and it was enforced, their reasoning was that it was to protect everyone. Bullsh-t.
Crazy guy was seen as crazy by these HOA cultists because he didn't follow their rules and more often than not he was the most well liked guy in the neighborhood.
The former head was the trophy wife of this big shot doctor and her father owned most of the land in the neighborhood. She wasn't crazy, just power tripping and stupid.
The crazy guy never ran for HOA, but he did start a restaurant, sponsor a drag competition, and possibly took up karate.