We’ve all heard how ridiculous the HOA (Homeowner Association) can be, but do we truly know? These 11 former residents who used to live in an HOA share just how petty the group can get. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
His Dying Tree
“A couple of years ago the idiots at the HOA sent me a letter informing me to remove a dying tree in my front yard and replant a similar tree ASAP or I would be heavily fined. I had three small trees in my front yard and all three looked fine, so I called them.
I spoke to the ‘manager’ of the community and she read the notice back to me verbatim. I said I understood the letter but was unsure which tree she was speaking about. She got mad and said she would schedule someone to come over and show me.
Fast forward a couple of days and I happened to be working from home. I saw someone poking around my yard for a few minutes before I went out there.
Me: ‘Can I help you?’
HOA Guy: ‘Uh, I’m here to inform you to remove and replace the dying tree.’
Me: ‘Okay, which one is dying?’
HOA Guy: ‘That one.’
He pointed to a tree with yellow leaves.
Me: ‘That tree is not dying.’
HOA Guy: ‘Yes it is. The leaves are yellow and the leaves are falling off.’
Me: ‘Uh… it’s Fall, and trees do that.’
HOA Guy: ‘The other tree’s leaves are not yellow.’
Me: ‘They’ll get yellow eventually, this happens every year. It’s called nature.’
The HOA Guy didn’t say another word and walked off. I never heard another word from them about the ‘dying tree’.”
They Weren’t Even A Part Of The HOA
“Almost a decade ago, we (my wife, daughter, and I) moved to Florida from the Dallas, Texas, area. The neighborhood we left behind had an HOA; however, we had one of the few (or perhaps the only) homes in the neighborhood that was exempt from membership due to the house having been constructed prior to the HOA’s formation. Evidently, HOA officers neglected to verify this pertinent detail and would send us annoying notices on occasion.
Months after we had moved out, we finally sold the property (keep in mind this was around the time of the Great Recession of 2008). One day, a letter from our old friends at the HOA showed up at our new house in Florida. It was, not too surprisingly, a notice stating that we were being fined for allegedly letting waste collect unduly by the alleyway. Obviously, we hadn’t resided there in months. My best guess was that other people, knowing we had vacated the premises, decided to offload trash or whatever debris at our place instead of theirs. Bear in mind, we didn’t even belong to the HOA!
The letter stated we owed a fine, and that we could appeal to the HOA’s board of directors if we chose to do so. It went on to inform us that our ‘swimming pool and clubhouse privileges’ were suspended until the said fine was paid in full. This may have been a second or third notice, I don’t recall at this point.
I pulled out a pen and wrote on the form, ‘Please note that we no longer own the property. As for the fine, we will not pay it.’
Further down where our loss of ‘privileges’ was mentioned, I wrote, ‘Hard to believe, since we never had said privileges in the first place!’
I placed the notice in an envelope and mailed it back to them. Never heard from them again!
This whole experience was mildly annoying, yet somewhat humorous at the same time. An ‘association’ that I never belonged to was rescinding ‘privileges’ that I never had to begin with! I don’t think that said HOA was sorry we moved out, and I can’t say that I miss them too much, either.”
“A friend in Florida once had his mailbox hit by a vehicle and knocked over. He righted it to the best of his ability until a few days later a notice showed up about needing to fix his mailbox. He complained that he had fixed it; a subsequent letter indicated that an inspector had taken a level and found that it was too far out of plumb and would need to be repaired.
The same friend got another notice that his house was not an approved color. Confused, as his house had always been the same color and there had never been an issue before, he contacted the association to challenge the complaint. They responded that a routine check, using paint swatches as comparisons had determined that weathering and sunlight had caused the shade to go out of compliance.
One time while out of town, I got a notification about vehicles being parked in front of my home overnight. I explained we had been out of town and asked for a vehicle description. Turns out it was my brother-in-law who was stopping by to feed the cats while we were away. In the ten minutes he had been parked there, an enforcement officer determined the car had been parked there overnight in violation of the rules.
Lastly, the same association once sent me multiple letters about putting up foil or reflective insulation in the windows visible from the street, which I continually challenged as I had never done such a thing. When I demanded photographic evidence, it turned out it was because the enforcement guy, who lived down the street, was getting irritated at reflections of the sun during a particular season. Off the glass.
Needless to say, I now refuse to buy in an area with an HOA.”
His House Was Hit By Storm Reilly, But Did The HOA Care?
“A couple of years ago Storm Reilly tore up our house. We lost half the siding on the end (we have the end house of a terrace). The insurance company was informed. Our neighbor’s son worked for a home improvement company and was a great help. He got a tarpaulin fitted over the damaged area the next day. The insurance company came by and approved everything. I spent a whole day walking the area behind our house picking up the debris and stacking it in our backyard.
Now the storm did a lot of damage to Virginia and a lot of other Eastern states. Labour and materials were in short supply, however, the neighbor’s son’s company still took on the repair project. Two weeks after the storm, the HOA wrote and asked whether I was aware that my house was missing some siding?
Really? No duh. Half the side was missing and there was a massive tarpaulin covering it that flapped in the wind. We were given 14 days to effect the repairs.
The company doing the repairs (who were great throughout) laughed and wrote to the HOA, explaining how bad the situation was on a countrywide scale (The town of Stafford was renamed Tarpaulinville).
The HOA granted us a seven-day extension.
We missed the deadline, so the HOA told us to find a different contractor. I phoned five. First of all, the costs doubled. Second, they were all busy and were forecasting June or July before the work could be done. Mind you, the storm was in late January.
I sent the letters/quotes to the HOA and insurance company, who confirmed that the storm was one of the worst in recorded history and that contractors and materials were in short supply and in high demand. HOA didn’t care, I was now told we had until April 31st (although there is no such date) to get the work done or they would get it done for me and bill me for the work.
In early May, HOA sent a contractor round, he looked at the damage, looked at my quotes, and confirmed that I have done everything possible to get the work done and that he couldn’t do it until late July. I thanked him for his time.
My contractor got a cancellation and commenced work on July fifth. It took three days and looked fantastic when it was finished, by using my neighbor’s son’s company. I even made a couple of thousand dollars back on the deal. Was the HOA pleased? NO.
Received a letter that building materials had been left on my driveway. Correct they had, on July second, a truck turned up with all the materials needed for the repair. VA State law says that you can’t just replace siding on one side of a house, you have to do it all. A three-sided townhouse has a lot of siding and guttering and all the other stuff.
There had been contractor’s vehicles parked outside my house. Well D’uh! I couldn’t afford self-fitting siding.
Scaffolding had been left up overnight. The pettiness went on.
Then, a couple of weeks later, I got a letter telling me my house needed painting. I pointed out that the siding was two weeks old and was the approved color for our house, so why the heck did it need painting?
If I ever buy another house, NO HOA!”
Little Kid Artwork
“My neighbor and I both had small children around four years old, a little girl and a little boy who played outside together. One sunny weekend, they drew on the sidewalk in front of our houses with chalk. Rainbows and suns, and other little kid artwork. It was forecast to rain the following week, so it wasn’t going to be there for long. We each got a notice that we would be fined 100 dollars per day for each day the chalk remained on the sidewalk.
I cut short my lease and moved out within the next month. I think the owners eventually sold the unit, since they had bought it to rent, and nobody wanted to rent in such a place. I think the HOA especially targeted renters because my neighbor and I saw so many violation notices for petty things. But the sidewalk chalk was the pettiest, by far.”
Online Trash Talking
“Before I took over the HOA at my last neighborhood, the developer was in charge and was using a management company to actually manage it. The management company was a guy who became the management company by virtue of the fact that he lived next door to the lady who was the management company before, and he took over when she got tired of it.
The background is that the house was a new house when we bought it in 2005. The builder was having an issue with the landscaping company using really low-grade fill dirt in the yards. It was a great scam since we all had ‘new’ yards covered with hay when we moved in. Six months later when grass wouldn’t grow and the hay was gone we realized what had happened.
I didn’t realize right away. I dug the silt fence (from a different construction site), boards, and other assorted trash that was on the surface out of the ground and threw it away. I also went around the yard and dug up the rocks, some weighing around 250 pounds. Again, only the ones on the surface. They were kind of flat, so I stacked them between trees at the back of the property near the common area. There were maybe four other houses that could even see them.
One day the developer noticed them (I don’t know what he would even be doing in our back yards) and told the HOA management guy.
The HOA management guy sent me an email that said, ‘I was in your backyard yesterday and noticed a bunch of rocks stacked up. Those need to be removed.’
The email was bizarre because he claimed he had been there. The guy lived in the next town and definitely hadn’t come by. I asked him why he was in my backyard, and he responded with ‘Okay, not me, it was the developer.’
I told him he could contact the builder about having them removed as I had already done enough work digging them out of the yard. He never said anything else.
I showed him what ‘petty’ looked like a few months later, though. I can play that game like a pro.
I was putting the financial information from the HOA on a website at the time, and I said something on the site that cast the developer in a bad light (because he was mismanaging the funds and had essentially bankrupted the HOA).
The HOA manager guy emailed me and said, ‘If you’re going to say stuff like that on the website, I won’t send you the bank statements anymore.’
I showed him in the covenant that the financial information for the HOA was required to be viewable by any homeowner during normal business hours each day. His ‘day job’ was ‘security guard’, which I knew. Mine was ‘owning my own business,’ which gave me a lot more flexibility. After referencing that part of the HOA, I told him if he didn’t send me the bank statements each month I would be coming to his house ‘daily’ to inspect the financial records at various times unannounced, which was my right per the covenant.
Needless to say, he was smart enough to keep sending the statements.”
“I got a notice for parking my work truck in the visitors parking inside the secured parking area. Normally I rode the bus to work because there was limited parking for our personal vehicles at the job site. But the bus drivers were out on strike, and the busses were grounded, so I drove the work truck to and from work for a couple of weeks. I passed this by the office staff where I lived, no problem. But the first morning after parking the truck, I got a citation from the HOA board about an illegally parked vehicle.
I drove home the second day, and straight to the board president’s townhouse. She was the most terroristic person I’ve ever known. She made sure everyone knew she carried weight and walked the grounds with her illegal pit bull.
I showed her the truck, reminded her of the bus strike, and asked her if she’d feel better if I walked the 40 miles each way to and from work?
She sputtered and spewed her indignation as I walked away, and then I paid visits to the other seven board members driving the offending truck. Amazing, none of the other board members knew about the truck or citation. And each assured me that parking the truck inside the secured area wasn’t a problem.
The truck couldn’t be parked on the road because of all the expensive equipment inside the truck.
Yup, next election I ran for a board seat, and then president’s position. Being president was great and helping my neighbors turned out to be a pleasure and a privilege.”
Unpaid Attorney Fees
“A guy I worked with went to pick up his pool tags from the HOA office. They told him they were holding them due to unpaid attorney fees.
A few months prior, his roof was damaged during a storm and he put a tarp on it while he got everything sorted out with insurance and a contractor. Apparently, the HOA didn’t like that shade of blue on the roof, so they sent a letter. The insurance company was dragging their feet, so the tarp stayed up. The HOA sent another letter.
Insurance finally got their behinds in gear, and now the contractor had a delay getting the materials. The HOA hired an attorney to send a Certified Letter to my co-worker about the tarp on his roof. The roof finally got fixed and the tarp went away.
Memorial Day weekend rolled around and he went to pick up his tags for the neighborhood pool. The girl at the office told him he couldn’t pick up the pool tags until he paid for the attorney and the blue roof violations. He started asking what violations, and the girl said they sent two letters before hiring the attorney to send the third letter. He asked where they sent the letters, and she said to an address in Tennessee. That’s where his wife’s parents live. My coworker’s house is in Houston.
Needless to say, he was ticked off. He told the girl he already paid for the pool tags and they couldn’t withhold them. He also told her he wouldn’t pay for their stupidity. She wasn’t budging.
He said, ‘Fine,’ and stormed out.
They used the pool all summer. Nobody questioned them about not having their tags. Every month or so he would get a Certified Letter, to his house, demanding payment for the attorney and the violations. He would write a check for one dollar, put it in an envelope, and walk it down to the office. After six months, the HOA got a new president. This one had a few more brain cells than their predecessor and waived all the fees, even applied the one dollar payments toward the next month’s dues.”
“I’m an early riser. About four or five am, I was awake and fully dressed. As the coffee was brewing, I heard a noise. Then I heard steps coming from outside in my front yard. I saw shadows on the window and I immediately grabbed my grandfather’s M-1 Garand and, chucked off the safety.
As I ran outside, I shouted, ‘Halt! Identify Yourself! No false moves. Show me your hands.’
I got these words out without even thinking. I was that angry. As I did this, I worked back the bolt. It makes a very loud ‘clacking’ noise that I love. I lost a round, but that was ok. The nerve of this little ‘popcorn fart,’ I thought.
He dropped a notebook pen and ruler to the grass. I honestly thought he’d peed his pants. Why it was the HOA guy measuring the length of my grass in my yard?
As he explained my grass needed cutting, I tried not to laugh. But I couldn’t help it. I did. Out of relief of not hurting a trespasser and the fear of protecting my family.
I said, ‘You’re welcome to come back at a decent hour, Monday through Friday. Just leave your requests directed at me.’
He got up slowly, but I didn’t apologize. I continued, ‘If you want to talk to me, knock at the door like a man…’
He left. The ‘long grass’ notice got replaced with, he was ‘mistaken’ and, ‘Home in compliance with.’
I later found out he quit. This bought me bliss for about 15 years.”
“They attempted to fine me for an abandoned vehicle. The ‘vehicle’ in question was a squirrel feeder tray. It sat atop a broomstick-sized pole, at about waist high in my backyard. It was out of sight of them driving or walking by. It kept the critters out of my birdfeeder, my neighbor’s plants, and I got some great photos.
In going through the homeowner’s booklet they issued me, I saw nothing regarding a feeder. Not for birds, deer, heck, I wasn’t prevented from putting rat or bear food out if I wanted to. So I wrote back.
I assured them that the squirrel feeder was not drivable, heck, it wasn’t even street legal and I’d never had it licensed. And since it was within my own property lines and not on the street, I wondered how they came up with ‘abandoned’.
‘Are your lawn chairs on your deck abandoned?’
I cautioned them about walking on the lawn in the future (which they are not allowed to do per their own rules) because I was worried they would track fertilizer into their homes and poison their pets.
And then I told them since it was pretty obvious that someone there was looking for excuses to fine me, I’d remove it. So now I pour the squirrel food on the ground.
I sent that email to the person who wrote the fine, their boss, the head of my local community management, and the highest person I could find at the corporate level. When I was assured they were not looking for excuses to fine me, I asked them to explain this fine plus the one a month earlier where they tried to ding me for not mowing my grass twice in a week.
I’m sorry it grew fast I guess? And then I sent them the mowing guidelines from my lawn company which they so thoughtfully provided (when I asked) in an easy to copy/paste format. The HOA Devils had no reply after that.”
“My next-door neighbor got several notices. She was a sweet ICU nurse at the local hospital. Her house was the second house built in our subdivision. I say ‘built,’ but I mean finished. The ‘first’ house was actually started after hers but finished before, and it was at the far corner, kitty-corner across the development from hers. When her house was finished there was no HOA in place and there was a tall T.V. antenna tower at the end of her house. After several more houses were built, they started an HOA, and part of the covenant was that you couldn’t put a T.V. antenna on your roof because they felt it looked tacky.
Well, she argued that it wasn’t on her roof and that would shut them up for a while until she got the next one. When we moved in, I looked around the neighborhood, and lo and behold, I counted at least a dozen antennas on a dozen roofs. I took photos and gave them to her. Some of those roofs belonged to HOA board members. She kept her antenna. In the course of helping her, I learned that the covenant could be changed by getting signatures from half of the residents of the subdivision.
A few weeks after helping our neighbor, my husband started begging for a satellite dish. Guess what else wasn’t allowed by the covenant? Well, the covenant was written at least a decade before when ‘satellite dish’ was as big as 12 feet across mounted on a pole in your backyard. But what my husband wanted was one of those mounted to the roof at the back of our house where no one would see it.
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter, they were both banned. So, I typed up a petition, took my cute little son by the hand, and walked repeatedly all through that neighborhood until I had signatures from every house changing the covenant to not only allow satellite dishes but also T.V. antennas. Civic involvement people! Change the world, one HOA at a time!”