Once An HOA Member, Always An HOA Member
Often, a resident of a subdivision or complex managed by a homeowners’ association may have a few distressing stories to tell. Many residents claim they have faced a member of the HOA who is a megalomaniac with near-psychotic tendencies who seems to harbor the sole purpose to intimidate, harass, and eventually purge neighbors out of the property, just for their own personal entertainment.
But, the only thing worse than a sociopathic HOA member would be a sociopathic former HOA member. Despite retiring from the position, they still feel that they are entitled to enforce their own personal brand of justice onto fellow residents. That is, if “justice” was defined as “the pointless antagonizing and harassment of innocent people for one’s own unreasonable, self-serving needs.”
In this story, one disgruntled, retired HOA member learned the hard way that the power invested in her by the HOA was only temporary.
A Nice Place To Live
Bruce found the perfect bachelor pad in a 1,500 sq ft condo in an up and coming town, right in the downtown area. It was a great place that stood on valuable property within close distance of entertaining destinations. Not to mention, he was fortunate to find neighbors who made him feel welcome. Everyone got along great with everyone else… except for one person.
Her name was Gail, a widow in her mid-60s who garnered quite the nasty reputation during her eight years serving as a member of the homeowners’ association board. Bruce’s neighbors would fill him in on the little things that Gail and another woman no longer on the board would do that affected the neighborhood for the worse. “They changed the landscaping from mulch to pine needles, they stop upkeep on the pool deck because they hate kids. They reported one house for anything and everything because their kids were too loud.” A woman with multiple sclerosis once called animal control on Gail for feeding feral cats and attracting raccoons and possums near the property. Gail turned around and bullied the woman for ratting her out. Needless to say, she was a bit of black sheep among around the neighborhood.
Years later, Bruce’s new wife, Jennifer, moved into the condo with him. After two happy years living with Jen, Bruce noticed that Gail had been spending much more of her time with her boyfriend. Knowing that Gail had lost her husband to a heart attack, Bruce was actually happy to discover that she had found someone who made her happy. This boyfriend of her’s, George, lived in the country about an hour away from the neighborhood, so Gail split her time between both houses. It started out with her spending the weekends with George, until it grew to her spending a full week with him, and so. Eventually, Bruce could gauge Gail’s time at the complex per month between 15 minutes and two hours.
At this time, the complex was also going through a few changes. The HOA was now all made up of people under 40 years of age who were “sprucing up the place,” so to speak. It is possible that seeing a younger demographic take over the HOA may have ruffled Gail’s feathers. Gail started coming back to the complex for longer periods, sometimes going out just one day of the weekend. One day, when she came back, she told Bruce and Jen that she had a bone to pick with them. She claimed that they were using her parking spots.
The complex had only one rule in regards to parking: “Each resident is entitled to two spots close to their building, but not necessarily in front of your unit and there is no limit to parking spots you may occupy.” The key element to the rule was that a parking space could be used if it was close to your home. Additionally, if you were a two-car household, that would earn you two spots to use. However, at this complex, there were no assigned parking spaces.
Bruce and Jen realized that the spaces in question were being occupied by their friends, who would visit the condo often and use those parking spaces whenever Gail was away. Even though the spaces did not necessarily belong to her, Bruce and Jen recognized her frustration and apologized, offering to move their friends’ vehicles into additional nearby spots.
They assumed that an apology would be enough. Not for Gail.
She Set Out To Claim Her Space
Whenever Gail was staying at the complex, she made a point to be sure no one could take her parking spaces again. Either of them. Her plan: use one vehicle to take up both spaces. Maybe her HOA mentality had her convinced otherwise, but the rules in the Master Deed stated that no vehicle could take more than one spot without written permission from the Board of Directors or Property Management group. Double parking for more than 2 days without permission was prohibited.
Later that spring, Jen had a medical issue. She went to the hospital and had to stay for four days. She was later put on disability for another eight weeks. Bruce’s mother, being the one member of their family living with closest proximity to them, offered to come down to help the couple out during that time. Thus, they would need three parking spots open. Bruce made sure to make the property management company and the Board of Directors were aware of this. He provided them with the make, model, and license plate number of his mother’s vehicle and let them know how long she would be staying. That way, if anyone had an issue, they would know why.
Care to guess who may have taken issue to it?
Bruce heard a banging on his door. A banging so loud that it shook his dog’s nerves enough for her to pee herself. On the other end of the door was Gail, showing up at the complex for the first time in six weeks, by Bruce and Jen’s count. Between bangs, Gail demanded from the other side of the door that Bruce and Jen allow to her to have her space back. Was she out of spaces? No, there was one she could use. Was the one space left for her unable to accommodate the size of her vehicle? No, she had plenty of room. She just wanted to both of them to herself, as per usual.
Bruce reminded her of the “one car, one spot” rule and that there was no assigned parking at the complex. However, out of whatever respect he had left for this woman, he offered to move his mother’s car to a different spot. Just as Bruce suspected, Gail went on to occupy both spaces… with one vehicle.
Just two weeks later, Gail made another complaint over the parking space. But, this time, Bruce and Jen were through with giving into their neighbor’s frivolous demands. They refused to move. So, it continued. If Gail felt that her space was being violated, she would take it up with the couple, banging on their door and hollering non-subtle complaints. One of her tirades even resulted in a large dent forming on the frame of the couple’s door. She was using her keys to pound on the door that time.
The couple decided to take further action. They began taking pictures of Gail’s two-space occupations and reporting her erratic behavior to their HOA. Bruce and Jen hoped that this could lead to the end of their issues with “Gail’s parking space.” Additionally, they had recently received good news to keep their spirits: Jen was expecting. Things were starting to really look up. But, in truth, the worst was yet to come.
She Sent Back Up
One day, Bruce was at the gym when he received a call from Jen and his mother. Speaking frantically, they explained that they feared someone was going to tow Jen’s car. Bruce left the gym, rushing back to the condo as fast he he could. Upon arrival, he found two people he had never seen before, a man and woman, outside of his house.
As it turned out, the man, Jeb, was the son of Gail’s boyfriend and the woman, Barbara Jean, was the young man’s girlfriend. Neither of these rednecks were residents of the complex and, thus, had no business being there. Yet, there they were, standing outside of Bruce’s condo, launching threats his pregnant wife and his mother, all while drinking his way through a six-pack.
“MA MOTHER-IN-LAW PAYS [MONEY] FOR THESE SPOTS!” Jeb exclaimed, apparently referring to Gail despite her not being married to his father. “YOU LOSERS ARE BREAKING THE RULES! IMMA TOW THAT THERE SUV!!!!!”
Bruce and Jen knew, however, that Jeb was tossing out empty threats. He had no legal grounds to tow their vehicle and had no line of defense at his disposal other than his belligerent, yet, fruitless intimidation tactics. The couple and Bruce’s mother just stayed put until Jeb decided to pull out the not-so secret weapon: his “mother-in-law.”
Gail drove an hour to the complex. Upon arrival, instead of her usual parking space(s) of choice, she stopped the car right behind Bruce, Jen, and Bruce’s mother’s vehicles. She put the vehicle in park and got out, effectively blocking them in. That was Bruce’s breaking point. He was not going to stand for harassment in his own neighborhood at the hands of people who do not even live there, or barely live there in Gail’s case.
He took photos and promptly called the police, making the 911 call apparent to Gail. Realizing that Bruce was not messing around, she moved the car within minutes. Bruce then printed out all of his documentation he had spent the past few weeks painstakingly collecting, the photos he took of the rednecks at the scene, and his communication with the HOA regarding the ongoing parking space dispute. With Gail and her henchmen still standing their ground outside, the couple waited calmly for the authorities to arrive.
A Word With The Authorities
When the police arrived, Gail, Jeb, and Barbara Jean welcomed them with their signature volatile behavior. Arms were flailing, insults were screamed, and unbridled threats were hollered in their direction. The police came to Bruce and Jen’s door and the couple invited them in with a friendly demeanor which nicely contrasted the trashiness taking place just out front. But before the police could walk in, Gail waltzed right up to the door, attempting to stroll right in. Bruce forced a one-man blockade on her, keeping her outside. He asked her to leave and she reluctantly obeyed.
Bruce and Jen made it known to the officer that they were sorry for the seemingly trivial matter for which they were seeking help. All of this was over a parking space, for crying out loud, and they apologized for getting him involved. However, this was quickly becoming too much to bear. They recounted Gail’s escalating behavior to him: the demand for the unneeded parking space, the double-parking, the loud, door-damaging banging. They showed him the communication they had maintained with the HOA and the pictures they took themselves. They also slyly mentioned the fact that Jeb had been drinking during their entire interaction with him.
It was clear that the officer was not unfamiliar with white trash pieces of garbage such as these people and Bruce and Jen’s evidence quickly earned them his support. He immediately imposed a no trespass order on the couple’s porch against Gail. He promised that he would not allow Gail to step foot on their property since violation the order would result in her arrest.
Bruce and Jen remained inside the condo as the officer went outside to calmly explain to Gail, Jeb, and Barbra Jean the rules of the no trespass order. The trio responded just as you’d expect: not very calmly. Their screaming lasted until the officer called for backup. Not long after, a second black-and-white arrived to the scene. Gail, refusing to take the involvement of additional police officers as an appropriate time to shut up, declared that she was a HOA resident who pays her fees, so Bruce and Jen’s property was her property, too, and a no trespass order on community property would have no effect on her. She marched up toward Bruce and Jen’s stoop and stood on top of it, proudly.
By doing so, Gail had violated the officer’s no trespass order, just moments after he had imposed it. Without missing a beat, the officer arrested Gail on charges of disorderly conduct and harassment.
Jeb and Barbara Jean were then ordered to leave the premises. Visibly inebriated, the man got into his truck with his girlfriend and they drove off. But, as soon as he was within inches outside of the complex, the back up officer followed him, pulled him over, and charge him with driving under the influence. All that effort the couple had put into defending “Gail’s parking space” only led them behind bars.
Two days later, the last person who Bruce and Jen expected to (or wanted to) see showed up at the complex. Gail, who apparently made bail, and her boyfriend came up to the parking lot in the boyfriend’s vehicle. They chose a spot and parked the car, right before driving off in Gail’s vehicle. The car sat in the space for about a week with no one to occupy Gail’s house. Since the abandoned vehicle did not belong to a resident and did nothing but take up usable space, Bruce thought to call the HOA. An SUV was finally towed that day: the one belonging to Gail’s boyfriend. That must have been a sign to Gail that it was time for her to move on from this neighborhood. Eight weeks after her boyfriend’s car was towed, she put her house up for sale.
A Better Place To Live
After serving the maximum term of eight years on the HOA board, it seemed that Gail was not yet willing to accept that she no longer had the authority in the neighborhood she was once granted. She wanted to hold onto that power for dear life and go to any means necessary. In doing so, she chose the seemingly innocent Bruce and Jen as her targets, assuming them to be convenient pawns in a puppeteering act with whom she could easily manipulate into obeying to her every will.
Or, the more accurate explanation is that Gail was simply a nut who took advantage her property rights and Bruce and Jen happened to be the unfortunate souls she wrongfully felt violated by. But, finally,they would no longer have to face the cruel, relentless demands of their erratic neighbor. Living next door to such a person would have made for an unfit environment to raise their child.
Perhaps the most potent lesson to be taken from this story is this: no parking space is worth calling police over.