Living in an HOA has its ups and downs — mostly downs. Both HOA members and residents share more about their terrible experiences. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“I’m currently HOA president and it really is the few who ruin the job. Maintenance, finances, etc aren’t really all that much work and, as a stay-at-home mom, I can easily fit it in my schedule. In fact, it’s nice to have adult interaction.
However, it’s the few crazies that make me want to rage quit, and never talk to anyone again. One resident emailed me asking for the names of past due homeowners and when I told her that was private information that I’m not allowed to share, she flooded my inbox with accusations of incompetence, favoritism, and embezzlement. She also takes full advantage of her right to request documents and requests every single thing she has a legal right to and many she doesn’t. Any pushback is met with similar results.
She has requested that I tow all parked cars in the complex and that I forgo due process and preemptively fine people. She also wants a list of who I’ve sent notices to and when, another violation of confidentiality. If I don’t respond to emails fast enough, she accuses me of hiding things and being difficult. After the past leader had already been voted off the board, she accused her of embezzlement (not true) and asked for her immediate resignation and all of her records. The person was already off the board.
She has gotten better since then, but her requests can still take up hours of my time.
When I see her emails, I often think to myself, ‘Is this the one that’s going to make me resign?’
A renter called the city and told them we were completing unpermitted work for EVERY single thing we worked on around the HOA, which the city was then required to investigate. We were never found to be doing anything wrong. He also would have lengthy discussions with me about things we should be doing to avoid lawsuits, that wasn’t in any way actually true.
Another owner kept accusing her neighbor of watching her sleep and would go outside in the middle of the night yelling, ‘I see you up there’ at her roof and honking her car horn. No one was there. She also decided once that she was going to pass a car and drove straight into someone else’s closed garage. She has since moved to a group home for people with dementia.
One owner likes to come to meetings and give lengthy reports about the shoddy construction of neighboring complexes.
So, yes, HOAs can be awful and weirdly strict, but I think it’s because any sane person is either going to run away or go insane after having to deal with this.”
The Parking Space Ban
“The HOA at my parent’s old condo decided to ban the use of parking spaces indefinitely. People assumed they were being repainted or something, but eventually, it was discovered that the pricks on the board thought the complex would ‘look nicer’ if everyone parked on the road. But of course, the two parking lots next to the board members’ house weren’t closed.
Changing the HOA rules was intentionally set up to be difficult. Meetings could only be held at 11:00 am on workdays, all adult residents of a house had to be present or that house’s vote/input was invalid. In protest, people made sure the lots by the board members were constantly filled with cars so they would have to park on the road too.
Eventually, it culminated with the board illegally towing a bunch of cars. They wrote a new rule about how long cars could be parked in spaces and posted a notice on every door in the complex. The new rule was no car could be parked in the same spot for more than 48 hours, but they decided that the timer was retroactive, and on the very morning the rule was made, they immediately started towing any car that had been in a space for the previous two days.
The condo complex where I grew up was composed almost entirely of low-income people. A bunch of the cars were damaged in the process of towing, and one straight up went missing, apparently stolen by or from the tow company. A tow company, incidentally, later found out to be owned by a board member’s brother.
I was just a kid, and only got the full story much later in life, but all the members of the HOA board got beaten up and had their cars stolen and intentionally wrecked. The way it was explained to me was that they were left on the board, but told their rule-making days were done.”
They Kept Fining Her
“I don’t live in an area with an HOA, but I’ve worked in one that simply blew my mind. Preface this to say that I’m an IT guy at a big lumber yard and thus I end up working on side projects with either other guys from work or with my brother (who is a contractor). It’s good money on the weekends or after hours and it helps combat the effects of sitting on your but half of every day.
So, we get this job to renovate this very nice lady’s basement that had suffered water damage from runoff caused by re-landscaping done by the HOA behind her home — they changed the landscaping of the park that is in between a circle of 12 houses and the change in grade caused melt water to fill her back yard and basement. They didn’t have an engineer involved and had nobody to pass the blame to.
We were being paid mostly by her insurance company which was suing the HOA for causing the damage.
She got fined no less than 30 times in four days for the trades having various trucks (3/4 tons and 1 ton) parked in front of her house, or in her driveway while we were there doing work. She got fined for having lifts of drywall and/or floorboards/trim, flooring, insulation bundles, etc., dropped off in her driveway by our lumber yard because ‘they should have been placed out of sight inside the garage.’
She got fined for having ‘heavy machinery’ operating on the street (our delivery trucks have a TAG on the back, it’s a portable 3-wheeled forklift that attaches to the three and five-ton trucks to make deliveries faster and easier).
She got fined for having a garbage can in plain sight “outside of garbage pick up day” (we put a dump trailer on the right side of her driveway to facilitate quick and clean removal of any demolition and construction waste). One of these, and it was just as new and shiny clean.
My ultimate favorite was the table I set up in front of the garage doors in between the garbage trailer and the garage. I grabbed a couple of boxes of Tim Horton’s coffee and a couple of dozen muffins and set it up on the table so anyone could have a coffee/snack while working, and have a smoke break while outside, and she got fined for THAT being publicly viewable (picnic in the front yard).
She got fined for noise. We had a tile saw, a chop saw and a compound miter saw outside in her garage to reduce the mess/dust inside and did all the cuts out there. We worked from 4 PM on a Friday until 10 PM, then all day Saturday and Sunday, by Monday it was just finishing carpenters and painting being done.
She got fined for not cutting the grass over three of the days we were there on the weekend. We had her lawn mower ‘trapped’ in the corner of the garage behind materials but the nice little old lady who owned the house said, ‘Forget ’em, let them fine me for that too!’ when I offered to move everything so her husband could get the mower out to mow the lawn.
She got fined for all sorts of nonsense purely because the pricks on the HOA were ‘at war’ with her for her having the nerve to blame them for flooding her property and basement. I’d never, ever, live in an area with an HOA: my house, my property, my money, I’ll run it how I want to.”
Not An HOA Resident
“Many years ago, I had a friend whose parents came from Korea in the 1950s. They bought a suburban house on a 2-acre plot of land. All of the houses in the suburb had similar land plots. In the 1980s a housing developer bought up all of the plots that he could and used some questionably legal force to get rid of a lot of the other people, but my friend’s parents held tight onto their property even though they were the only ones left. And as a result, the developer had to build the entire neighborhood around their older house and land. This new development had a draconian HOA.
After my friend’s father passed away, only his mother lived in this large house. She didn’t speak English very well, and when she got older she was unable to move around very much. So my friend helped take care of his mom and eventually ended up moving back in with her. It was during this time that the HOA became particularly bad.
They complained that her house was not up to code, but the house was not part of the suburban complex. They complained about her HUGE yard and lawn, but she didn’t have to comply because her house was not part of the HOA, but had been there way before the other houses had been there.
One day my friend was at work and he got a phone call from his mother who was terrified. She grew up on a Korean farm where soldiers had to come in force and kidnapped all the men to be drafted into the military. She never saw her father or any of her brothers again. So when a bunch of HOA people showed up with shovels and chainsaws and started to tear out her large backyard garden, she started having PTSD flashbacks. My friend left work, went to the backyard, and told everybody who was there to get the heck off his property.
They refused to listen to him, saying he was not the owner of the house, and he had no right telling them what to do. So he went back into the house, got out a weapon, and started firing it into the air. He said it was his right according to state law to start firing at people who were attacking his property, and they had until a count of 10. They left, and called the police, telling a fanciful story about how a crazy chinaman was shooting at them.
When the cops arrived, my friend was in a three-piece suit, sitting on the hood of his car, with the weapon open and unloaded like he was on a firing range. He and the police had a conversation, and when they were done, the police went to the HOA and explained that they had no right to go on to this person’s property and tear out the garden. In fact, if my friend had any damage claims, they would be forced to pay for them. Considering they destroyed some fencing, a few statues, and some garden path stones, they were forced to pay an amount of money to have it all replaced and professionally installed.”
They Should’ve Kept Their Mouth Shut About The Fence
“Late to the game, but we sold our house and moved to escape our HOA. It started out innocent enough — pay monthly dues for lawn maintenance, paint your house the same color as everyone else, and basically, everyone minded their own business. The neighborhood looked OK but some of the houses were in need of some major maintenance (the residents, with the exception of my husband and I, were all over the age of 60 and couldn’t really DIY) but we spent a lot of time and money fixing up our place and making it look nice.
Well, then our metal gate fell down. We looked around the neighborhood, took into account the style of the other front fences/gates, and my husband, a cabinet shop owner, and contractor made a gorgeous wooden gate with metal inlays. The metal matched other metal in the neighborhood, the wood matched the wood of our front fence and our neighbor’s fence (other fences were all different colors, and some people didn’t have gates/had different color gates, but we kept it consistent with those around us.) No one in the neighborhood had been requesting HOA board permission for improvements because the board hadn’t actually met since the year before.
Suddenly we got a letter saying we had 30 days to take down the fence and replace it with a new one or we would be fined/taken to court. Not legal without offering an appeals process, which I countered with. Then, we were told the fence had to be painted the same color as the house–no other fences in the neighborhood are painted, so I appealed that this was inconsistent enforcement of unwritten rules, as nothing about fence paint was included in the covenants. They continually came up with ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER to complain about, even going as far as to complain that we hadn’t gotten permission to fix our leaky roof even though we replaced the shingles with identical shingles when the board president himself had shingles that didn’t match the rest of the neighborhood.
Finally, I did my homework and some digging in state legal code and records and discovered that our HOA had not filed its required paperwork with the state or county in over 15 years and, therefore, was not actually a homeowners association under state law and said if I didn’t stop getting harassing anonymous letters in the mail, notes on the fence, and letters threatening to take us to court (when I knew then that the HOA didn’t have the funds to do so thanks to a past president) that I would be reporting them to the secretary of state and suing for three years of dues that they were not legally entitled to collect.
This resulted in a truce (AKA I didn’t do what they told me to do but didn’t sue them, and the old pricks on the Board glared at me every time I walked/drove through the neighborhood and continued to send anonymous letters to the president, who passed on ‘concerns’ to me) that lasted long enough for me to sell the house and get the heck out of that godforsaken neighborhood full of catty old geezers who apparently enjoyed living like they were in some senior citizen version of ‘Mean Girls’.
Moral of the story: If your HOA is giving you nonsense, do your homework and read up on state laws regarding HOAs. Sometimes, these power-hungry pricks don’t file their paperwork and only THINK they have power.”
Whiny Pricks And Bored Old People
“I served as our HOA leader for one year. Just one. I was basically convinced to run solely to keep one of our psycho neighbors from getting the spot. Nobody else was running (that should have been a red flag in hindsight) and the voting consisted of the 15 or so people that actually showed up for the meeting.
For the next year, all I did was answer emails from every whiny prick and bored old person about every minor infraction and inconvenience. We did what we were supposed to do. Communal areas were mowed, the playground was kept clean, and neighbors were told they could not pave their front lawn (seriously, some guy submitted the paperwork requesting to ‘put in a patio’ that was just a 3k square feet concrete slab, taking up about 90 percent of his front lawn).
The complaints were around five percent of the residents logging 95 pecent of the complaints. Including stuff, we had zero authority over. ‘No resident X, the city sprays for mosquitos, not us.’ Or ‘No, we don’t repave the roads either.’
And the residents were mean about it. My favorite example is the guy who literally accused me of wanting people to die. Because I had not personally fixed the cracked sidewalk. Which the city owns.
Another fun incident was the drama over some squatters in a foreclosed home. We knew they were there illegally (we later found out that some guy had a business of gaining access to foreclosed homes and renting them out super cheap), but this was during the height of the mortgage crisis. We called the police, but according to them unless we could prove the owner didn’t want them there, there was nothing we could legally do. We could NOT get ahold of the bank that owned the land no matter how hard we tried. It had been sold multiple times and the bank that apparently owned it had a voicemail box that was always full.
The neighbors showed up to a meeting and just screamed at us for a good 15 minutes over the outrage. The funny part is the people living there had done NOTHING wrong. In fact, they were maintaining the otherwise terrible-looking yard. They didn’t have a coherent argument about what we should do or what the problem was. They were just mad at us for it happening.
At one point, a guy who used to be on the HOA (and got voted off for being a prick to people) blamed us for the lakes being low. Surely it had nothing to do with the record low rainfall. In his words, ‘Well when I was on the board, they stayed full.’
What else…oh right. The fountain incident. So one of our lakes had a big floating fountain in the middle. Looked nice, but then someone stole it. The thing was cemented to the bottom of the lake and ran on 440volts. They dragged the thing out and cut the live power line.
Anyway, some people said they missed it being there. So we replaced it. Then someone complained the ‘spray pattern’ of the new fountain nozzle was different from the old one.
Also, it was a 100 percent volunteer thing but people would constantly accuse us of taking a paycheck and doing nothing.”
“She Cost Us 100k”
“I’m in Canada and I’m pretty sure we just call them strata councils. Anyway, in my complex, the leader is a nosy, bullying witch with WAY too much time on her hands. She wanders around telling people what to do all the time and yelling at them if she doesn’t like what they say. There’s also a guy with (diagnosed) schizophrenia who doesn’t appreciate her yelling all the time.
My mother-in-law lives across from him and one night he just kept yelling, ‘Heck!’ over and over. Not an issue for her, but strata witch who lives pretty far from him heard about it and confronted him.
Much yelling from her and finally, the dude had enough and gave it right back. Next, she’s pushing for authorization to spend 40k on a lawyer to have him kicked out of the building. She bullied enough people to get the votes and hired a lawyer.
Long story short, they lost in court so buddy stayed and we were out 40k. Her brilliant plan at that point was to make up a violation and submit a fine for 40k to him. You know because he should have to pay back the money that she wasted. So he sued over that and got something like 50k in damages.
So in a nutshell, she cost us 100k and the guy is still here. And she’s still on the council.
Other fun stuff includes a note nailed to our door, telling my wife she laughs too loud and she better be quiet ‘or else’ from a council member, my car being towed because the stupid ‘I live here’ sticker was not in the right spot of my windshield, council leader banning non-residents she doesn’t like, and my favorite – trying repeatedly to ban bbq’s because she’s a vegetarian and doesn’t like the smell.”
What Wrong With The Color?
“When my friend and his wife were buying the house, they were told they had to sign up to the HOA as part of it, so naturally he asked for a copy of the association’s rules, which they refused to provide. He wasn’t allowed to access them without being part of the HOA, and to be part of the HOA he had to buy the house.
Not wanting to make such a decision so lightly, he asked if they could think about it and come back the next day with an answer, which they were fine with. So he went home, thought for a bit, talked to a few people about it, and went back the next day and immediately signed all the contracts.
Once they’d moved in, they decided they wanted a new color for the house, so repainted the whole thing pastel blue. The next day, a letter from the HOA turns up saying he can’t repaint his house without permission from the HOA and they can only paint them one of the HOA-approved colors, which his shade of blue was not.
He talked to the few people from earlier in the story again, and they helped him reply. Specifically, they were lawyer friends of his, who gave him all the information he needed to cite so he could tell the HOA that as they had not let him read the terms of the contract before signing it, they were void. For all intents and purposes, he was outside the reach of the HOA, and as he now owned his lovely pastel blue house, there was nothing they could do to stop him from breaking any of their other rules.
Since he moved in there ~10 years ago, there have been a few other new residents to the area, and every time a new face arrives he’s sure to introduce himself and let them know how contract law works.”
“During college, I was interning at a golf course in a neighborhood and one morning I was cutting the greens and while I was riding from hole to hole I noticed a lot of vandalism, you could follow the joy ride of destruction from hole to hole.
The first green had a giant tear in it where someone had run across it with a golf cart, the 150 markers had been run over on the second hole, and the no cart path signs were destroyed on the fourth hole (this is also where I found a headlight for a golf cart, more on that later). Then on the 11th green, he had taken the flag stick and shook it back and forth while it was in the cup causing the hole to become really big and breaking the flag stick. Just a lot of vandalism, nearly 1K in damages.
Well since I had found a golf cart headlight, and it didn’t match any of the course carts we knew it had to belong to someone in the neighborhood who owned a golf cart. We turned over the headlight to neighborhood security and they went around the neighborhood looking for the golf cart.
Security comes back and tells us that they ended up finding the golf cart, the garage door was open and they noticed a muddy golf cart with a headlight missing, bingo, got ’em, gonna sue em right?
That’s what we’ve been talking about all morning, thinking that we’re going to bag some 16-year-old kids.
The owner of the golf cart was hosting a bachelor’s party the night of the incident, and the driver of the golf cart just so happened to be a police officer in the county where the incident occurred. HOA decided not to press charges against the officer and their logic behind it was they don’t want to give the police department a reason to not respond to a call in the neighborhood.
My superintendent was angry, if it was some teenager they would have sued the kid for everything he was worth, if that same cop caught the teenager he would have arrested him for it. Pretty messed up situation, but the cop had to give my boss an apology and pay for all damages in order to not have charges pressed.”