Why does anyone willingly live in an HOA?
All posts have been edited for clarity.
“I had just moved into my house a few months prior. One day, I got a letter from the HOA threatening to fine me two hundred dollars because my mailbox wasn’t black. I thought surely they had the wrong house because my mailbox was in fact black. So I contacted them and they gave a run around arguing that it wasn’t.
I told them to come to look and of course, they said it was on me to prove to them it was black. So I snapped a photo and emailed it to them. I heard nothing back for well over a month, then get another letter giving me a ‘courtesy’ week extension before I was fined.
I was livid at this point, so contacted the HOA again to ask for an explanation as to what exactly the problem was. I was finally told the ‘neighbors’ felt my mailbox was rather worn and needed to be painted or replaced. So basically it wasn’t black enough for them. So I painted it.
Now for the part that set me over the edge. After a few months or so, I learned the HOA will replace a mailbox, as it was covered under our terms. So I called them asking about why they threatened to fine me when they were the ones who should replace it if not to standard. They stated it was because they had no open work orders for my mailbox and that it was my responsibility to notify them if it needed maintenance, not theirs.”
“I’m still fuming over this years later. I went away for a long weekend and left after work on Thursday. Late Friday afternoon, my water heater burst, in the attic of a three-story home, and flooded my entire townhouse. When my neighbor got home from work he saw gallons of water running from underneath my garage door. When he realized I wasn’t home, he tried to find my phone number and when he couldn’t, he called the HOA to notify me.
The lady who answered said since it was after business hours, the matter would have to wait until Monday. It was barely five o’clock in the evening. My wonderful neighbor ended up calling the non-emergency police line and they came and shut my water off from the street. When I got home Sunday morning, my entire house was damaged and I could see my attic from my basement. After a massive panic attack and a frantic call to my insurance company, we started the process of repairs.
The cherry on top was when I needed to have a dumpster placed in my driveway and a moving pod to remove what was left of my furniture while they began drying out the house and I got a visit from the HOA. They didn’t like how ‘unsightly’ my home had become and wanted the items removed from my driveway. I essentially told them they could take their complaints and go ‘forget’ themselves with them.
I got a little revenge too because I stopped paying their stupid fee since they couldn’t fine me before six months and I was moving in less than five months. I’ll never own another home with an HOA ever again.”
“One of my neighbors was expecting their first baby and the wife had some serious complications that resulted in only the baby coming home.
The husband was understandably overwhelmed when all this happened. She passed out and went unresponsive at home while an elderly relative was visiting. The baby was born at the hospital, and the wife’s condition was rapidly deteriorating. I don’t think the poor guy left the hospital until his wife passed a few days later.
Their townhome only had two parking spots. Our HOA had recently changed the rules for our overflow parking. Residents had been allowed to park no more than four days a month in those spaces. Then it went to ninety minutes a month after petty HOA parking drama, effective two days after the wife went to the hospital.
The wife’s car was in the overflow parking lot when the elderly relative was there. The wife’s mom flew in to take care of the baby and help with funeral arrangements. She flew in, took a taxi to her daughter’s home, and got the extra car keys from the house. She went to overflow parking, and her daughter’s car was gone. It turned out it was towed by the HOA.
The husband came home with the baby and got all the mail that has accumulated in his absence. There were multiple fines from the HOA, from the towed car to trash cans being out past five o’clock and on non-trash days to some weeds that sprouted in the driveway. There was also a bill from the HOA president, who ‘impounded’ the trash cans and recycling bins with a thirty-dollar ‘storage fee’ per item per day.
This ended up on the news in one of those ‘shame this prick’ pieces. The HOA president lived on their street. He was aware that an ambulance had come and then no one was at that house for days. He would not dismiss the fines because the husband was still physically capable of going back to the house. Unfortunately, you just can’t shame some people.
One of our other neighbors realized there was nothing in the HOA rulebook about needing HOA permits for rummage sales. They organized a giant neighborhood redneck-themed rummage sale to raise the money for the fines.
The look on the HOA president’s face was priceless when he tried to shut it down and multiple people came out with our three hundred-page by-laws book to show it was within the rules. The rummage sale was also publicized as an update on the news, so we were able to raise a few thousand to help our neighbor out.
I moved away nine years ago and I will never buy another property with an HOA because of the petty drama HOAs bring out. The husband ended up moving back to where their families were from, partly due to not wanting to deal with the HOA, but also because paternity leave sucks, and newborn daycare is expensive.”
“When we rented, the HOA would report to our property manager and then the property manager would call us to let us know what we had done wrong. We were reported for so many things that had nothing to do with us.
We received a call that we couldn’t have a grill on our front porch. We didn’t even own a grill. We were told we were only permitted one car parked on the street. Our other two cars need to be parked in the garage. We only owned one car at the time. We got a call because neighbors were complaining about our dogs barking at all hours of the night. We didn’t have dogs, the house didn’t even have a yard.
The weirdest was when our property manager called and said, ‘You need to move the doormat that you have leaning against your house.’
My husband went outside and found a doormat leaning against the neighbor’s house. It would have been significantly easier for whoever reported it to just knock on the door and say something. The neighbors across the street used their porch as storage for the entire three years we lived in the house.
As homeowners, in a different neighborhood, we were written up for not taking Christmas lights down in a timely manner. It was mid-January and we had been gone for my grandpa’s funeral. So, we took them down right away as soon as we got the write-up. No warnings, as was procedure, just straight to, ‘Here’s a write-up, you need to go before the board where they’ll decide if you have to pay a fine.’
I alerted them the lights were removed. They got back to me saying we didn’t remove all decorations. I had a snowman on the door that said, ‘Let it Snow,’ and snowflakes in the window. Winter decorations, not Christmas. They were super snotty about it until I pointed out they had broken their own procedure by not giving us warnings and we felt targeted. They dropped it.
A year and a half ago we redid our landscaping. The landscaper had pavers sitting in the front of the house, so it was obvious something was up. We got a letter in the mail telling us to cease and desist as we hadn’t gotten HOA approval to landscape our backyard. The letter included a photo. The angle of the photo clearly showed that whoever had taken it had gone into our backyard to take it. They are not allowed to do that. I emailed them, pointing this out. They dropped it.”
“My very first place in college that I didn’t rent was a townhouse condo. It was a typical cookie-cutter, three-storied, four to a section, little cut out of suburbia for beginners. I lived near the back of the development. This meant driving by the front units every day to get to and from work and school.
Our HOA board president, ‘Sandra,’ lived across the street from our HOA treasurer, ‘Zoey.’ Sandra was in her thirties, ran an illegal daycare out of her home, and I hated driving by her house after three o’clock or on weekends because her two elementary aged kids would hide behind parked cars and run in front of your vehicle screaming, ‘Slow down!’
I got really scared after this happened a few times and only drove five miles-per-hour through there and the little spawns kept doing it. I spoke with their mom about how unsafe jumping in front of cars was. I was only going five miles-per-hour because I was terrified and they were basically harassing me and our neighbors weekly. Sandra said her kids were being neighborhood monitors and I should be thankful for their diligence.
A week later at seven o’clock at night, after most of the residents were home, I pulled in after working my retail job after class. I noticed a tow truck. Then two. Then three. They were towing everyone in the neighborhood. I parked in my garage and ran upstairs to tell my roommates to move their cars from the street parking. They ran out and everyone who parked on the street was getting towed. There were two of my neighbors fighting with the tow drivers because they had always parked there. It was a parking area, it was in our homeowner’s booklet. We whipped it out and the tow truck drivers said they were just following the orders of Sandra and they left when the police showed up. Sandra put up home-printed paper signs and signed a contract with the tow company in the middle of the day without telling anyone. The cops advised all residents it would be effective the following day, but the homemade signs Sandra made were not legal and there were no posted ‘no parking’ signs. The very same night, she was out in the street with a red bucket of paint painting the curb red. She had the tow company post their tow signs and no parking signs the next afternoon. Goodbye street parking. Now anyone who didn’t fit in the garage had to park three blocks away, outside the condo units.
The next straw was when one day, four large Evergreen trees were cut down from a communal park in the development. The treasurer, Zoey, found out Sandra had paid her ‘sideman,’ who was also an arborist, over eight thousand dollars of HOA money to cut the trees down. Without any discussion or approval from the HOA board. Zoey flipped out and let everyone know what happened to the trees and how Sandra drained our HOA money away at the next meeting. We were planning for a community co-op garden.
After the 6 o’clock meeting, I guess someone else on the board called Sandra to let her know that she was going to be removed from the HOA president seat due to the unapproved expenses, towing issue, and more. Well at about eight o’clock, I heard screaming. Like, blood-curdling screams from a woman, ‘Help! Call the police!’
It was Zoey. She was outside of her condo screaming. Sandra came over, punched seventy-year-old Zoey in the face, pulled her out of her home, locked her out, and was then threatening to harm Zoey’s disabled and bedridden elderly husband who was upstairs. Zoey was hysterical. I was on the phone with the police and about five neighbors were also outside on the phone with the police while Zoey screamed every curse word in the book through her own front door at our crazy ex-HOA president.
Sandra was arrested that night for assault and holding someone hostage. Since Sandra was a single parent, her kids were taken away by relatives about an hour after CPS showed up. Zoey had this gnarly black eye and huge scratches on her chest where I guess Sandra clawed her shirt and pulled her into the haymaker.
I only lived there for fourteen months and moved due to the escalating issues with the HOA.”
“When I was really little my parents owned a house in Florida that was part of an HOA. Behind the house was a lagoon or pond and the backyard went right up to it. Basically, the backyard ended at a little slope that went right down into the water.
One day my parents got a notification from the HOA that the grass in the back was unkempt and this was a violation and there would be a fine if he didn’t cut it. What they meant was the grass on the slope into the pond needed to be cut, even though it wasn’t part of the property. My dad said whatever, broke out the lawnmower, and got to work.
Just as he was finishing up, a huge alligator came rushing out of the water. My dad did the only logical thing and let go of the mower and ran. The mower rolled down the slope, hit the alligator, and sank halfway into the water. My dad leaves it there because he wasn’t going to mess with the scaly death machine.
A week or so later another notice arrived. This time about yard tools being left out, the mower in the pond surrounded by agitated miniature water dragons. Of course, there was a fine. My dad said forget them and refused to pay the fine or any HOA dues ever again. Even the added monthly fines for non-payment. He made a point of specifically never paying the HOA every month when he gave the mortgage to the bank. The bank got their money so they didn’t care about the HOA board.
About a year later when my parents sold the house, the HOA came to collect.
My dad said, ‘Forget you. Take my payment out of the lawnmower if the gator lets you.’
Then they drove off into the sunset. As far as we know, the lawnmower is still there in the water guarded by scary dinosaurs.”
“My dad bought his house in 2004. One of the large selling points was it did not have an HOA. It was one of the very few neighborhoods in my town without one. Well, in 2009 my grandma died and it gave my dad enough money to pay off his house. Around 2012, we got a knock on the door asking my dad to sign a petition to form a homeowners association. It was the first time I had ever heard my dad curse when he told the lady off. He told her he bought the house in 2004 largely because he didn’t want an HOA and told her to get off his porch. About three months later, he got some mail informing him of the newly formed HOA.
My dad was livid, so he went around asking neighbors what they had told the lady. It turns out when an HOA is formed they don’t need to ask the resident or the legal owner if there is a lien on the property. Since almost everyone had a mortgage, the mortgage companies said yes because they wanted to further protect their investment and wanted the HOA formed as fast as possible. My dad continued to talk about the HOA, but they didn’t really do much. One time he got a fine for a peach tree of his hanging too low over the fence but decided it was about two weeks until he could harvest most of the peaches, so he took the fine. This was about it until the Summer of 2014.
One day, out of the blue, my dad got a warning about our little camper in the backyard. We had the fourteen-foot camper for almost as long as I could remember it. Every summer we would take a trip or two to another state, weekends into the mountains, and in the winter we went elk hunting with the camper. Many of my fondest memories came from the thing we had for years but just now were getting told to move. So my dad did, he moved it to his brother’s house for a while. The Winter of 2016 came around and my uncle was selling his house. My dad decided it was enough time, many other neighbors have trailers in their backyard, and have for years so he thought no one would care. We put it in the backyard and within a week had a warning. My father was livid once more.
The best course of action my father had decided was to report all the neighbors with trailers, then give it a couple of weeks and tell them about the upcoming board meeting. This came with great success. Almost a hundred people show up to this board meeting many of whom had purchased their house new with the fact that you could park things in the backyard and the lack of an HOA a huge selling point. Well, it went downhill fast, not a happy person was there. Within twenty minutes of this board meeting, everyone on the board had resigned, only the property manager remained.
Around eight o’clock in the morning the next day, my dad ran into my room with excitement. He had proclaimed to me the property manager stepped down, and the HOA had been dissolved.”
“When I was about twenty and still living at home, I had a cat who was a crazy-smart, goofball Maine Coon who I rescued as a tinny kitten. He was the only pet I had ever had that was solely my responsibility, and I connected with him more than any other animal, prior to or since. We were buds, truly. So when he went missing I quickly made posters and taped them to a few stop signs in my vast neighborhood.
The HOA called the number on the sign and asked, ‘Are you the one with the missing cat?’
My heart lept but they told me they were taking the posters down because they were violating certain rules. I was told to view their website for proper procedure. The site told me my posters must be on a stake, a certain amount of feet from the stop sign, and that I may put up no more than four of them in this sprawling wooded neighborhood, only at four-way stops, and only for a few days. I followed their rules.
A day later I get another call that they were taking my posters down again, and I was almost in tears with the woman at this point, explaining that I did everything asked of me and I just wanted to find my cat.
Her response was, ‘I think he just finds that posters are ugly and make the neighborhood look bad,’ in defense of the man taking down my signs. I still plastered them on notice boards by the pool and corner store, and went door to door, but I never did find my cat. The neighbors said they had seen coyotes in the area, so maybe the posters wouldn’t have helped anyway. But how awful to know that their procedures, which they didn’t even honor, were more important to them than the grief of their neighbor or the well-being of a lost beloved pet.”
Golf Cart Guy
“My boyfriend and I were eighteen and living in a bit of a rundown condo. We were both volunteer EMTs for our local ambulance squad. On nights that we were on call, we would take the ambulance home and just respond from there. The ambulance was not a commercial vehicle. It had ‘no fee’ license plates, meaning it belonged to a government organization.
The condo association had rules against commercial vehicles. Which again, the ambulance was not, but I digress. The rule was you couldn’t park a commercial vehicle in the lot for twenty-four hours, and you couldn’t part it overnight.
There was a maintenance guy for the condo association who rode around on a golf cart all day and night. One day we got home and found a notice that we were in violation, and it had a picture of the ambulance parked. We called the landlord, explained the situation, and she said don’t worry about it.
At the time, I worked for a wheelchair transport company. During the day, if I had time between patients, I could do what I wanted so I would go home for lunch. It was maybe a half-hour, forty-five minutes maximum. Still clearly not in violation of the commercial vehicle rule. But no, we got a violation with a fine, with a picture of my work van.
So we had to go to a ‘hearing.’ Of course, the golf cart guy was there. We won because we had a clear understanding of the rules. The golf cart guy was furious.
A few weeks later, we got home and the condo smelled horrible. We took out the trash, sprayed air freshener, looked everywhere, but we couldn’t find what stunk so badly. We turned on the air conditioner full blast but that didn’t help. In fact, it seemed to make it worse.
The smell persisted for three days. Then I went out on our balcony, we were on the second floor, to put something into our storage closet. That’s when I saw it. There was a fish wrapped in newspaper sitting on our air conditioning compressor. I know it was the golf cart guy.”
“They sent us a series of nasty notices to remove the dead tree in our front yard. The tree had lost all of its leaves and it was unsightly, apparently.
The catch is that they sent us this notice in November. You know, during the Fall. When perfectly healthy trees lose their leaves.
We pretended we didn’t understand which tree they were talking about until the Spring when the tree magically came back to life.”