We have all encountered a Karen. Karens are rude and entitled, and they hate to see you living your best life. Do you know who else hates seeing you thrive? The HOA! When Karen and the HOA join together, they are an unstoppable force. Just ask our pal “Brian.”
Brian was usually a timid person. He didn’t like to argue and valued respect. He also previously volunteered at an animal shelter and raised service animals. Talk about a wholesome guy! When Karen and her HOA buddies began to nag Brian about his home, lifestyle, and dog, he crafted a plan to teach them a valuable lesson. A lesson that would cost them their coveted status.
Taking A Stand
Brian’s day started normally. He and his fiancee, “Kate,” started prepping to depart on a road trip with their dog “Ollie.” Ollie was an amazing, well-behaved, black labrador. Even though Ollie was only six months old, he was already a perfectly trained service dog.
The couple had their usual to-do list before leaving, and the last item on the list was taking Ollie to the bathroom before a long drive. They headed outside, Ollie went to the bathroom, and Brian grabbed a bag to clean it up. Brian handed off Ollie’s leash to Kate and started walking toward the dumpster to toss the waste bag. Ollie sat and obediently waited for Brian to return.
As Brian approached the dumpster, he heard a deafening scream. He couldn’t tell what the person was screaming about, but he knew they sounded angry.
Brian thought, “Whatever” and chose to ignore the scream for the time being.
As he turned around to walk back home, he made eye contact with “HOA Karen,” or Karen for short. What was she yelling about?
Karen looked at Brian and viciously screamed, “Your dog MUST be on a leash, and the leash MUST be in your hand. The law says so, and I will call the police on you!”
Brian was a good guy and was willing to de-escalate the situation before it got out of hand. Kate owned the condo they lived in, and she wasn’t a confrontational person. The last thing Brian wanted to do was get his fiancee in trouble. He tried to bring the situation back down to a civilized level of discussion.
In a polite but firm voice, Brian asked, “Did you even look at my dog before you started yelling at me?”
Karen wouldn’t answer Brian and just continued to scream incoherently. Brian repeated the question three or four times, raising his voice a bit each time he questioned her. At this point, she hadn’t shown Brian any respect. Why should Brian respect her?
He yelled, “If you would have taken TWO seconds to look, you would have seen my dog is sitting on a leash in my fiancee’s hand!”
Karen was absolutely shook. She was obviously embarrassed, and her face turned bright red.
She muttered, “You could just say thanks next time.”
Brian curtly replied, “Shut up and get out of my face.”
After the confrontation, defeated, Karen escaped to her condo.
Dang, Brian! For not being confrontational, that was fierce! He shouldn’t let his guard down though, because this wouldn’t be his last run-in with Karen.
No Grill, No Chill
Brian’s following encounter with Karen happened when he was grilling outside. He knew the HOA had specific rules against barbecuing, smokers, and charcoal grills, but there weren’t any rules against propane grills. As he was cooking, he heard an ear-piercing scream that sounded all too familiar. Can’t you just let the man cook dinner?
Once again, Karen couldn’t talk to Brian like a grown-up. She instantly began to throw another tantrum and start yelling.
Brian looked at her and exclaimed, “Shut up and go away! If you say one more word to me, I will be the one calling the cops for harassment by a Homeowner’s Association member.”
She sputtered, “But there isn’t supposed to be any grilling or open flames!”
“Just leave me alone,” he demanded, “I’ll believe you when someone else shows me in writing.”
Karen walked away once again, completely crushed. When would she learn to quit messing with Brian?
Karen had a plan to take Brian down, but she would need help from the HOA leader to back her up.
Petty HOA Leader
A few days later, the HOA leader approached Brian. The leader gave him the neighborhood by-laws, and Brian began to read them thoroughly. While he was reading, Kate struck up a conversation with the HOA leader when, once again, they were rudely interrupted by Karen.
Karen tried to play the victim and said, “You are a mean person! You have absolutely no manners when talking to people!”
Brian and Kate watched the spectacle, completely in shock. I mean, this Karen was crazy! She came out of nowhere and started yelling at Brian and Kate while they were in the middle of a conversation. Who does that?
When Karen finished babbling, Kate, who also hated confrontation, approached her.
Kate, completely fed up, screamed, “You know I was the person holding the leash, and I was standing right next to him while he was grilling! You are rude, and nobody gives you respect because you didn’t give any to us!”
Let’s go, Kate!
The blood drained from Karen’s face, and she sulked away.
The HOA leader stepped in to defend Karen and said, “You can’t have the grill. You’ll get fined, and it would be wise to follow the rules going forward. If I see you next time, I will be the person calling the cops on you.”
Brian understood, but he wasn’t going to back down that easy. What could he do to show Karen who’s boss?
And then he thought of the perfect solution.
Broken Down By-Laws
Brian decided he would follow the rules, but not without researching the by-laws. Through his web-sleuthing, he found out the by-laws couldn’t be enforced if they weren’t in the state database. The HOA by-laws haven’t been updated in the database since the nineties! Brian also discovered the by-laws followed the National Fire Protection Association and found the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of the HOA property lines. We love a good loophole!
Brian had a plan. He copied the HOA by-laws and assessed his property. Next, Brian went on a shopping trip to Lowe’s and picked up a tape measure and yard stakes. He went home, measured his property, and coordinated the stakes. As it turned out, the drainage ditch about ten feet away from his house was considered public property. In theory, he could set up his grill there and technically not break any HOA rules. Drainage ditch dinner party, anyone?
Now, it was time for Brian’s revenge. He called the city and county fire departments and requested a permit to grill on his property. He wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The fire department said, “Go for it! You don’t even need a permit!”
Brian insisted, “I need a permit. I don’t want trouble from my HOA, plus the permit would allow me to grill at my home for six months.”
After their discussion, he purchased the permit and set up his grill the following day. Next, he carefully measured his yard and ensured he was set up at least three feet into city property. Brian ensured that his cooler was stocked with enough meat and drinks so that he could grill until the end of time. He just needed to wait for Karen to notice. How long would it take?
Suddenly, the Karen chaos began.
Happily Ever After?
Only minutes later, Karen came to Brian’s property and completely lost her mind. He whipped out his phone and began to record her tirade. The more polite he was to Karen, the angrier she became.
She cried, “I am sick of you breaking the laws! There is supposed to be NO grilling! I am going to get you arrested and kicked out of the neighborhood!”
Karen reached for his cooler to take it, and Brian asserted, “If you so much as brush a finger across my property, you will regret it!”
She darted away once again. She could throw shade, but she couldn’t take the heat.
Twenty minutes later, two police officers and the HOA leader arrived at Brian’s house. Brian could not wait for this conversation, and his research had prepared him for this moment.
The officer was confused by Brian’s happy demeanor when he asked, “What seems to be the problem officer?”
The officer replied, “You are in violation of the by-laws and have been warned once already. I am going to have to give you a ticket for disturbing the peace and threatening the Homeowner’s Association. You will also be receiving a ticket for an illegal open flame and illegal storage of flammable substances. If you don’t pack up your belongings now, I will have you arrested and removed.”
When the officer finished talking, Brian handed him his permit from the city to grill on his property. The officer took the permit and walked away to show the HOA leader.
The officer walked back smugly and said, “You can’t get a permit from the city to grill on private property.”
Brian showed him the coordinates for the HOA and the location of his home. The home wasn’t private property; it belonged to the city. He continued and handed him sheet after sheet of the research he conducted. Finally, his research skills were about to pay off.
The officer stopped Brian, smirked, and asked, “How long have you been planning this?”
He confessed, “Oh, about a week.”
The officer questioned, “Did you ever threaten Karen?”
Brian denied the allegation and played the recording of her tantrum for the officer.
After watching, he said, “I cannot believe this happened! Nothing seems out of the ordinary, you are free to go.”
As the officer began to leave, Brian asked, “Can I file a complaint about HOA harassment?”
He responded, “No, the city clerk’s office is the correct place to file a complaint. However, I can document the harassment and file the report for you.”
During the discussion with the officer, Brian discovered that it is illegal to be harassed by the HOA, and the offense came with a few months of jail time. Additionally, the leader and Karen could be removed from the HOA board.
Brian settled on removing the duo from the board instead of filing a complaint. As we said, he’s a good guy! Karen and the leader lost their coveted positions in the HOA and could no longer bully the neighborhood.
Brian continued smiling and waving at Karen each time he grilled or had Ollie. Neighborhood peace was restored at last!