Homeowners Associations provide many benefits for home owners – well maintained lawns, beautiful appearance, no one building weird outlandish structures, no abandoned cars, no sofas on the front porch. Many HOA’s cover the cost of recreational amenities as well, such as pools, tennis courts, walking trails or sports centers. Many residents find the HOA fees worth paying – but HOA’s can also come with negative consequences and unexpected issues.
While some of the stories below are written in a humorous tone of voice, HOA’s can have side effects ranging from unexpected fees all the way to foreclosing on your home. We wrote a post regarding some of these consequences.
Below are some of the most interesting stories we found around the web. Click the links to view more and see the source.
1. My current HOA threatened to kick me out unless I got rid of 3 of my cats. Since I don’t own a single cat, I sent them an official 2 page notarized letter denying their request as the number of cats I own must be expressed as a non-negative number.
Basically I defined what a cat was with one paragraph and defined what zero was in another. I expounded on what ownership of a cat would be commonly defined as. How I would feel to be defined as an owner of a living being and what responsibilities that would entail. Then I wrote about how you cannot own a negative number of cats. If I were to get a cat it would be from the shelter I would name it Batman (I then explained who Batman is) ect ect ect
It was basically like one of the essays you had to write in high school where you take one sentence and expand it into an entire paragraph to meet the minimum length requirements, except this time I was purposely going as far off topic as possible to annoy them. Most of it was paraphrased from wikipedia articles. The only important part was the last sentence where I state that I currently don’t own a cat.
2. When I was younger, my dad started a limousine service. Before the company got big enough for its own office space and multiple limos, he’d bring his one limo to our home (detached condos with a HOA) to clean and stock and sometimes leave it overnight when it was needed for a job. It lived in a storage lot the rest of the time.
The presence of a limousine in the neighborhood was apparently distracting to the people on the board, so they passed a rule that you couldn’t have a vehicle longer than X feet parked in front of your house overnight.
Then the main old guy on the HOA board got a huge RV that he would leave in front of his house for days at a time, so they got rid of the vehicle size rule and replaced it with a rule forbidding vehicles that advertised a business (the limo had a decal on the drivers side door with the name of my dad’s limo company and the phone number).
Then someone else on the board started a landscaping company and had a pickup truck with the name of the landscaping company on the side, so they changed the rule to only allow such vehicles to be in your driveway, not parked on the street (since the pickup could fit in the owner’s driveway, but a limo couldn’t fit in ours).
Basically, rather than just make a “no limos” rule, they kept making rules that disallowed limos, and then kept changing it when it would accidentally apply to anything but a limo.
HOA asked me to get insurance coverage for it, so I got insurance coverage for it and made a copy of the statement for them as proof.
HOA then faxed every incident report involving trampolines in the neighborhood to my insurance company referencing my policy number and sent a letter of disapproval.
Now my kids don’t have a trampoline, and neither do any kids in this entire neighborhood now.
The saddest part is, on Google Earth it still shows the trampoline and my youngest daughter was sad when she looked up our address.
In the non-slummy parts of South Florida, the HOAs control everything. I can’t even put up a fence either because I’m on a corner. The only benefit to having an HOA in my neighborhood is the free Comcast cable and the fact that they petitioned Comcast to get us 50mbit internet.
I’m moving soon to be closer to family, I can get a 10 acre plot up north with a house twice this size for the same price. I can’t believe I ever thought this was a good idea.
One time overnight the wife’s car was jacked up, placed on cinder blocks, and the wheels were stolen. She discovered this as she left to go to work, and then went inside to call some people to get things rectified. She had to go in to work that day so her husband drove her in on his way to work.
That evening when they got home there was a notice in their mailbox indicating the HOA was going to fine them for having an “abandoned vehicle” in their reserved spot.
5. A man from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., lost his home because he planted too many roses on his four-acre site. The board fined him and watched monthly as the fines mounted.
When they slapped a lien on his home, he went to court and lost because he’d transgressed the board’s architectural design rules. He was stuck with the board’s $70,000 legal fees and lost his home to the bank.
6. A couple from Lawrenceville, Ga., found they had a $3,500 lien on their house when they tried to sell it. The homeowners association had been fining them every day they left pink flamingos on their lawn but didn’t tell them. The association got the money, but the couple have filed suit to get it back.
7. A Maryland man asked for a six-foot fence as protection from a neighbor who’d attacked him with a log. The board denied the request, so the homeowner sued — and lost. It cost him $23,000 in legal fees and interest.
8. Rarely, homeowner association horror tales have a happy ending. Take the case of Houston attorney Wendy Laubach, who helped a man get his house back. Ill with a brain tumor, the man fell behind on $600 in condo dues. His association sued to get the money, piling on $4,600 more in legal fees. When the man couldn’t pay on time, the association foreclosed and sold his $55,000 home for $17,000. Laubach got the foreclosure voided, a rare event.