Warning: passionate disdain for HOAs. These people discuss their experience with HOA notices they feel are an overstep of authority. Content has been edited for clarity.
Fence Horribly Built? Blame The Dog.
“My HOA used to be very reasonable and efficient. Over the years, changes to the board have turned this completely around. They will decline to do repairs and maintenance to areas of their responsibility, claiming a lack of funds.
We each have a patio enclosed by a wooden fence. The fence falls under the responsibilities of the HOA, residents are not to mess with them. Wear and tear are to be paid for by the HOA. Any pet damage is to be repaired by the HOA but billed to the homeowner.
Most of these fences are drily rotted and a bit crumbly. This is normal; they’d been baking in the Arizona sun for a couple of decades. Mine was sort of disintegrating. Now, I have a large dog. As dogs do, he went to the fence to bark at strangers. He puts his head against the fence and sees through the slats. One day, he did this, and a whole section of the fence came loose and fell out into the parking lot. This scared the dog, and he ran inside crying.
I went out to nail the fence back into place and found the supports were too dry-rotted to take a nail. I was thankful for Gorilla Glue. I glued the fallen slats back in place. I then took a close look at the rest of the fence and found it to be awfully rotted out too. I contacted the HOA.
Without coming to look at the fence, they declared that this was certainly damage caused by a pet. They would replace my fence at a cost to me of 1500 dollars. I found this to be a bit much. I went to Home Depot and spent about 200 dollars on supplies. I completely replaced the fence myself in about two hours. I had the right paint color and everything. It was identical to the other new fences in the complex.
I was fined 200 dollars for replacing the fence myself. I sure did not pay it. They had not inspected the fence before I did it, so they could not show the difference.”
How Do You Define Vehicle Maintenance?
“I rented a house in an HOA in San Antonio with some pretty ridiculous rules. One of which was you were not allowed to perform vehicle maintenance (of any kind) on your property. Now, I’ve always been one of those people who do their own oil changes, tune-ups, brakes, etcetera. It had nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I’m cheap. I have a hard time paying someone to do something that I can do myself. The house was nice, and the school in the neighborhood was fantastic for my daughter, so I sucked it up and took my vehicles to a shop for maintenance.
Here was the idiocy. One beautiful Saturday morning, I came out of my home to head to the gym. I hopped in my Jeep and turned the key; nothing. The battery finally died. It was about five-to-six years old at this point, so it was about time it was going to fail. My wife wasn’t home, so I was stuck. I went into the garage and took out the battery charger so I could get my Jeep started to go buy a new battery. It took maybe 20 minutes to get enough of a charge for it to turn over. I went to the store, bought a new battery, and swapped it out there in the AutoZone parking lot. Job done.
Fast forward three days, I received a letter in the mail from the HOA, including a 250-dollar fine for ‘performing vehicle repairs’ in my driveway. I went to the next HOA meeting to explain what happened, including bringing the receipt for the new battery. They refused to budge. Their response was I ‘should have called a tow truck to tow my vehicle to the dealership to have the battery replaced as a civilized person would.’ I told them which part of my behind they could kiss and I wasn’t paying it. They responded that they would contact the homeowner and have me evicted. Lawyer time.
I retained an attorney, who argued that ‘vehicle maintenance’ was too broad of a term to be enforceable, and washing your vehicle is vehicle maintenance, therefore, a violation of the rules. The rules were rewritten to allow washing and cleaning out your vehicle and ‘reasonable, immediately necessary, user-level repairs’ such as changing a tire, jumpstarting, charging a battery, etcetera.”
Rain Diverters On The Roof
“When I lived in California, I had a run-in with the homeowner association over the metal rain diverters on my roof.
When I bought the house, it had its original wood-shingle roof. There were two areas of the house that didn’t have gutters because of the design, and on the roof were pieces of L-shaped metal that were very rusty that diverted the rain to the part of the roof that had gutters. All was good.
When the roof was replaced, they put in new rain diverters. Instead of just bare metal, they made them out of galvanized steel. They painted them brown so they blended with the roof. Now, anyone who has ever painted something made of galvanized steel knows that the paint won’t stick until the galvanized part has had a chance to weather.
About a year later, the paint was peeling, and I got a letter from the HOA that I must paint the rain diverters. I told them that I would like to have it weather for another year and then paint it so that it would stick, but they insisted. So, I bought some paint (specifically designated to be compatible with galvanized steel) and painted them.
Another year went by, and the paint was peeling. I got another letter. This time, I told them no, I’m not painting them. They told me it is a repair issue and the peeling paint is an eyesore and I must do something about it. I climbed up there and scraped every bit of paint off of the diverters. Problem solved, or so I thought.
Nope, I was now told I had altered the look of the outside of the house without approval, and the diverters must be painted or I risked fine. At this point, I was beyond angry. They asked me to again do something that was a waste of time. I read the rules and found that although there are rules about the color of the wood trim on the houses and the roofing materials that were on the houses, there was nothing about rain diverters. I wanted to paint them fluorescent orange but my wife wouldn’t let me.
I put my 400mm lens on my camera and walked around the neighborhood taking pictures of every home that had exposed unpainted steel on their house, including four of the five board members. I was called in front of the board, with four of them embarrassed that they had somehow violated their rules. I asked them why I was being singled out because my rain diverters were unpainted while others were doing the same with their houses.
Meanwhile, enough time passed so the galvanized parts were weathered. I finally painted them, and the paint didn’t peel.”
Don’t Leave Your Garage Open For Too Long
“The pettiest complaint a friend informed me of was when his HOA told him he was in violated their guidelines for leaving his garage door open too long when he was in the process of parking or pulling his car out of the garage. I love things like this and ‘stupid people’ who spew it too. He is disabled and has a tough time keeping his balance so that is why it takes a while to accomplish some things he needs to do.
I studied California Law for a few years, and one of the things I have kept abreast of are laws concerned with the rights of the ‘disabled’. I sat down with him and his wife to advise them of what the law says we as disabled persons have a right to do and what is required to see that our needs are addressed and respected.
The HOA clearly knew of his situation since its president lived a few houses away from him and had seen the difficulty he had just getting to and from his mailbox. I enlisted the help of another acquaintance who is very knowledgeable about these situations and at the next HOA meeting we politely ‘ripped them a new one’ during the meeting, to the approval of most of the people who attended since there was hardly a week that went by without this ‘bozo’ stepping on somebody’s toes for one petty reason or another.
When we submitted a letter of intent to file a civil suit for harassment of a disabled person, (by establishing a time frame based on a non-disabled person’s ability to perform certain functions) they immediately changed their tune and said they would submit our requests to the HOA’s attorney.
At which point I stated, ‘they were not requests but demands based on legal, federal criteria and if they, the HOA, was not aware of the laws before, then they would be soon.’
They stopped bothering him, and as a matter of fact, there were times when he would leave the garage door open for a couple of hours as he did one chore after another without so much as a ‘peep’ from anyone.”
Landscaping Logistics And Paint Problems
“When I bought my own (and current) home after a divorce, I tried my best to meet the neighbors and get to know this purported family-friendly neighborhood. They had an HOA, but I was told they are (again) a friendly bunch and pretty much stay out of your business. Then the letters started to arrive.
I had too many weeds in my garden. My grass was an inch taller than the allowed height (I bought the house in October, the grass had stopped growing as it was cold and dormant). Moss was visible in my yard. Hedges were not being maintained to HOA standards.
Letters warned me that these problems had been notified to me two times previously. If I did not correct them in a week, the HOA would fine me and arrange at my expense to have a lawn care company come onto my property and ‘correct’ the situation.
I contacted a friend who had a lawn care company and put him under contract to take care of my yard. He agreed to go with me to the HOA meeting, and we arrived early to sit in on the HOA business meeting.
During that meeting, one of the members mentioned that they had issues with the HOA management group not updating in a timely manner the sales of homes or changes in titles. Also, certain HOA members were walking the neighborhood multiple times a week and putting out notices that were too frequent per their guidelines. They were not giving homeowners time to do maintenance before the next notice and documenting small infractions on multiple notices so that the paper trail would trigger larger fines. That was interesting and certainly part of my problem.
When it was time to address my letters, I stood up and was allowed to speak.
I told the HOA I had never received the first or second notices of infractions as I had only moved in at the end of the month. Then I was met with multiple notices and threatened with fines and ‘legal’ action. One of the board members asked for my name, and I told them. Then they claimed I was the previous owner and had divorced and changed my name, so not really a new owner! I explained that yes, I was in the process of divorcing, had not changed my name, and could prove it.
Further, during their own business meeting, they had admitted they had no current records of ownership changing hands. Any ‘action’ should be against the prior homeowner when they locate her! But, they continued to argue with me because my first name and one of the previous owners had the same first name.
My friend and new lawn care person then stood up and verified that he and several other friends had assisted me in moving in. He would be happy to call several people to come and testify for me to the board. Plus, we had the newly signed contract for lawn care. Then he started to point out that the letters I received with their threats came within days of each other. Each pointing out a single issue, again just like we had minutes previously heard was against the HOA rules.
The HOA agreed to ‘waive’ the fines and ‘allow’ my newly minted contract to take the place of their much more expensive lawn contract. It included fees for the inconvenience of their scheduling! Turns out the lawn care company contracted by the HOA was owned by one of the people walking the neighborhood to find problems.
I had two issues after that. I once caught the HOA lawn issue walker in my backyard. Someone told him the landscaping had been torn down. Apparently, it had but not by me. Again, it was something the prior owner had done.
I needed to repaint the house, a normal age thing. But, I wanted to change from an orangey tan color with cream trim to a nice light sage green and keep the cream trim. They refused my request. Not on my street but, there were several other homes with the color palette I wanted to change to. Nope, and no reason why. So, I had to repaint the same color! HOA rules said the color change was okay with submission to the board; I guess they held a grudge. But, I did cheat a bit. I picked a more mocha tint for the main color and don’t have an orangey tan tint now.”
Candle Drama And Dog Grooming
“A board member of our HOA called the police on me for having three candles burning on my deck. However, two candles were battery-operated fake candles, and the one was a Citronella candle to control the bugs. There are no rules in our HOA bylaws regarding candles.
Also, that same board member just had me fined 200 dollars. The first fine was for 100 dollars, stating that my ADA / ESA dog (I am legally permanently disabled) (fully approved and registered with the property management company that HOA hired) was not the same dog. My dog’s hair had grown out, and due to unprecedented world events, we had not been able to get her groomed. We took the dog to the vet to have her chip rescanned so they could compare the chip number management has on file. Guess what? They matched! The HOA Board still was not satisfied and insisted we have the dog groomed (and videotape the grooming). Before we were informed of this next request, we already had our dog groomed. They are still deciding on the 100-dollar fine.
The second 100-dollar fine was for our seven-pound dog being recorded for one bark. Not barking, but one bark. I was fined for noise nuisance. Of course, this video/audio was taken by the HOA Board Member, who is my neighbor. I’ve had my hearing, and apparently, the board stuck together with my neighbor who is a member. It’s simply ridiculous.”
Rose Bushes Are Hazardous To Children
“When I bought my condo, I saw there was a dead bush out front. According to the agreement, the HOA is responsible for any property outside and residents are responsible for inside their homes. I waited several months to see if they would replace it during their normal landscaping maintenance, but they never did. Rather than going to the trouble of contacting them to request a new bush (or simply removing the dead one), I decided it would be quicker just to take care of it myself. I chose to put in small rose bushes at my own expense and did not seek reimbursement.
The following week, I received a notice that I’m in violation of some silly rule of theirs. Seriously? I just did them a favor! So I went to the next HOA meeting to contest it.
When I asked why rose bushes aren’t allowed, they said: ‘because children might fall into them.’
It took all I had in me to not laugh right there at the meeting. If they fell into them, that would mean they were messing around on my property without my permission. Children are only allowed to play in the common areas, not in the parking lot or around houses, etcetera. I reminded them of this (honestly, we have very few young children in our area anyway). I also asked them if they bubble-wrap their kids every morning before putting them on the bus because this was utter nonsense.
I lost and had to dig them up and give them away. You can’t make this stuff up.”
No Company Vehicles Allowed
“I often had to travel for my work, sometimes several weeks at a time. I bought a home in a nice, gated community thinking it would provide a little more security when I was out of town, but mainly because the HOA maintained the yards and home exteriors. These were chores I often didn’t have time to do.
I worked for a company that provided me with a car, an Oldsmobile 98 with no company name, stickers, decals, or numbers anywhere on it to indicate it was a commercial vehicle. The only thing that identified it as a company vehicle was the state-issued commercial license plates. However, it did have a couple of antennas mounted on the trunk because it was equipped with a mobile phone (the old kind before cell phones) and a business band radio. But, those antennas looked similar to the scanner and citizen’s band antennas that were common at that time.
I always immediately pulled into the garage when I arrived home and then closed the garage door because we were required to keep them closed. I soon learned an older lady living nearby was the president of our HOA, and she took her responsibilities very seriously.
Not long after I moved there, she walked over and told me the covenants prohibit commercial vehicles from entering the subdivision between eight p.m and seven a.m, or to park there overnight. She said that I had to park my car somewhere else.
I explained to her that my employer required me to always drive a company vehicle so they can contact me when necessary, therefore I didn’t own a personal vehicle. It was my only means of transportation and, other than having commercial license plates, it looked like an ordinary privately owned vehicle. Besides, it would always be parked in my closed garage when I’m home. She said that didn’t matter because the residents had previously decided they don’t want commercial vehicles driving around their subdivision at night or parking overnight.
I continued to park my company vehicle in my garage while at home. The following week, she had a lawyer on retainer with the HOA (and a resident of the subdivision) send me a large certified envelope containing a copy of the HOA covenants with relevant parts of it highlighted and a letter ordering me to immediately cease and desist parking commercial vehicles in the subdivision overnight in violation of the covenants. He also included an itemized bill showing the amount of money he was demanding I pay for his legal services, as permitted by the covenants.
I mentioned this problem to my boss, so he told me to go talk with the company attorney (his daughter) and show her everything they had sent. She listened to my story and looked at everything in the envelope. She sent the HOA their attorney-certified letters notifying them she was my attorney and demanded all future communications by either HOA officers or their legal representatives involving or concerning the vehicles I drive must be submitted in writing to her at her office.
Also, she demanded all HOA officers and their legal representatives to immediately cease all contact and communication with me until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved. Then she wrote that her opinion of their covenant restrictions regarding commercial vehicles appear to be unfairly biased, unjustified, unwarranted, unlawful, and unenforceable when the vehicle is a popular unmarked sedan appearing to be an ordinary privately owned vehicle. Should you pursue this case in court, it will be easy to prove my client’s vehicle is newer and more visually appealing than many vehicles being driven by other residents that are not being subjected to these restrictions.
She included an itemized bill showing the much higher amount of money she was demanding the HOA pay for her legal services, but included a copy of the bill from the HOA lawyer and deducted that amount from her invoice as a credit.
Their lawyer called her a few days later and said the HOA officers have decided they will agree to exempt unmarked cars from the commercial vehicle restrictions in their covenant if we were willing to agree to a truce and neither side pursue the collection of legal fees. She agreed.”
Fallen Fence Needs Fixing Fast
“Several years ago, there was a giant ice storm in Dallas overnight. A large tree fell in my backyard around three a.m. under the weight of the ice and knocked my fence down leading into the alley. At six a.m., I had a notice on my door.
‘Dear homeowner, HOA rule 102.4 requires all owners to have a fence in their backyards between the yard and the alley. You are in violation of the rule and are required to attend a violation hearing at the next HOA meeting to discuss penalties and potential resolutions.’
It fell over last night. I called the HOA to figure out what was going on; there was no leeway. No fence was no fence. I sued the HOA, the president of the HOA individually, and the chief enforcement officer individually for violating several state laws. They tried to back down. I refused until the entire HOA board agreed to resign and sign a permanent injunction against ever being on our HOA again.
Second, our HOA required us to keep our lawns trimmed; most HOAs do. Mine took it to a new level. There was a little old lady with a golf cart the HOA had provided. Every single morning, she drove around the neighborhood and stopped at every house to measure the grass. She wrote the heights in a little notebook. We weren’t allowed to have more than a 200 percent variance from low to high or we got an automatic citation. Everyone hated this woman.
Then she died from old age, about two years ago. To date, no one has agreed to become the next grass enforcement officer.”
Getting The Fire Department Involved
“This incident had been going on for us for the last six months. We, unfortunately, lived next door to the HOA president and her crazy second husband. These people complained about every neighbor and everything they did that is wrong and inconsiderate of them and their needs.
Dogs, pools, workmen, street activity, they hated it all. They chose us to lay down their crazy over a fire bowl, for lighting fires on your back porch. First, the crazy HOA lady came to the door and told me ‘open burning’ was not allowed and she would call the fire department on us. Being understanding neighbors we showed her there is nothing ‘open’ about our burning and that we were using a fireplace with self-starting logs in it on the porch. This infuriated her more since we didn’t bow immediately to her request. Since we have lived in Florida for 20 years, we have seen it all from HOA losers. We knew this wasn’t the last contact with Mrs. HOA.
We knew it was best to document and gather proof, so we emailed the fire department for the city and asked if our specific model was against any codes. They told us we were well within legal parameters for burning in said bowl. We printed that letter out and put it by the front door.
A month went by and guess who it is? Mrs. HOA was ready for round two. My wife responded to the door and heard the second unreasonable request to stop lighting fires in our fire bowl. She promptly handed her the letter from the fire department. Most people at this point, if capable of reason, would stop this pointless fight when confronted with evidence of them being wrong and some authority stating so. If you remember my warning about HOA folks — they joined that club because they had no reasoning skills, to begin with. That incident only infuriated Mrs. HOA. Now it was time for Mr. HOA to get involved. We were left wondering, what steps do they have to take next?
Now comes the more interesting part, a couple of months and several happy fires on the porch went by.
It was now 6:30 am on a Sunday morning and Mr. HOA snaps.
He showed up at the door at 6:35 a.m. Him: ‘your house is on fire.’
Him: ‘On your back porch.’
Me: ‘Do you mean my fire bowl has a fire in it?’
Him: ‘Well it’s on your porch so your house is on fire and I’m calling the fire department.’
Me: ‘Seriously? Good luck with that.’
The Fire Department showed up at 6:45 am; great service. Then the police showed up. First, we gave him the letter and discussed the crazy HOA people next door. We showed him the fire bowl and explained the situation. The Fire Department came to the door in full regalia, ready to fight reported house fires. We showed them the fire bowl where they had a good laugh. My kids were excited and a bit concerned that all these emergency responders are at our house. We chatted and said our goodbyes. This should’ve been enough, right? Nope. The lack of reasoning continued. I pulled the 911 recording of the call he made. He lied the entire time and reported my house on fire just for his personal vendetta.
Just out of spite, I decided Monday is a great night to have a fire outside; immediate escalation. 9:00 pm and my wife heard someone outside the bedroom window. Guess who it is? Mr. HOA decided to trespass in our backyard.
I ran outside to see him fleeing to his own yard yelling ‘I’m not on your property, I’m not on your property.’
It was our turn to call the police. My wife called about the man seen fleeing our yard and yelling. The police showed up pretty quickly while she walked them through the whole situation. The police decided it was probably a good time to clear the air and let Mr. and Mrs. HOA know they were in the wrong and needed to stop harassing us. They even tried to bring them out in the street to discuss. Nope, their lack of control just couldn’t take it, and the guy started flying off the handle with the police. The police showed up at our door again letting us know they suggest we file a police report and continue the documentation. In their experience, people like this don’t stop escalating until they get some control over their target.
Our response was to get cameras put around our house so Mr. HOA can be arrested the next time he trespasses. In all my experiences with HOAs, this is pretty much the norm and not an exception.”