These disgruntled homeowners prove that HOAs are still as absurd and annoying as ever. Sucks for them but at least we have these ridiculous stories in the meantime!
Fined For Taking A Picture?
“Living under an HOA in Arizona. I had just arrived home from work, dropped off a few things in the house, then went outside to collect the weekly bundle of flyers. It was late evening – maybe 7 pm – but still light outside. I was standing in my driveway while a slow-moving car drove by with a person in the passenger seat taking photos or videos with their cell phone. We had an HOA but not a gated community, so this could be anyone. So I took my own cell phone out and took a photo of the car, occupants, and license plate. They came around again, slowly, and the woman taking the photos said ‘Don’t take my picture’, which ensured that I definitely took her picture.
The car stopped, and I took a few steps back into the garage – I left my weapon inside the house when I dropped off my laptop bag – but I was fully prepared that this was the next step. I continued recording as this woman got out from the near side of the street, phone in hand, telling me that she was from the HOA and she had the right to take my picture. Seeing that she wasn’t armed, I stepped forward to tell her that while that is true, she’s on a public street so I can take her picture. Since I don’t recognize either her or her car, I took their picture to ensure that this wasn’t someone ‘casing’ the neighborhood for potential targets for burglary. She rattled on about this while I closed the garage door and went inside. Had the man in the driver’s seat gotten up, I would have likely retreated to get my Colt. This is Arizona – you can’t be too careful.
A few days later I got a letter from the HOA, indicating that I was not to take pictures of HOA employees doing their job, and warning me not to do so again. It wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, so I ignored it.
Yes, I was reprimanded for taking photos of a slow-moving car in my neighborhood, on a public street.
The following month we get a letter that traffic is too fast and there will be a traffic study. The HOA puts up a sign with a radar detector, collecting information. The speed limit is 25 mph. The sign with the radar, however, is at ground level. Anyone can walk up to it. Not all radar detectors are well shielded, and there have been cases of police officers getting testicular cancer, because they sat in their patrol car, with their radar detector in their lap, radiating high-frequency radio waves. I work in the defense industry and I know a thing or two about radar. I sent a letter of complaint to the HOA. It is ignored.
The traffic study finishes and the HOA say that they will be putting up ‘traffic calming measures.’ The HOA declares that they don’t need approval and that the study was ‘disturbing’. They have a contractor install speed bumps on the asphalt road – in several places – but they are too tall. There are standards for speed bumps based on speed, and we had these massive 10mph bumps, with poor lighting, and no pass-through for bicycles. I write a letter of complaint, and it’s ignored. Then I post on the HOA forum about calling a meeting for this. I get the required 10 signatures and the meeting is on. Just mention the word ‘cancer’ and ‘kids can walk up to this’ and people jump. Maybe there was some fear-mongering there, but those radar signs are not cheap to rent, and the data collection also costs money.
Cue the next step – the HOA sends out letters apologizing for the inconvenience; the speed bumps will be removed, and the HOA pleasantly introduces its new manager to us – the old manager is gone. What an absolutely useless organization!”
Can’t Get Any Dumber Than That
“A couple of years ago the idiots at the HOA sent me a letter informing me to remove a dying tree in my front yard and replant a similar tree ASAP or I will be heavily fined. I have three small trees in my front yard and all 3 look fine, so I call them.
I spoke to the “manager” of the community and she read the notice back to me verbatim. I said I understand the letter, but I’m unsure which tree she was speaking about. She gets mad and said she’ll schedule someone to come over and show me.
Fast forward a couple of days and I happen to be WFH. I see someone poking around my yard for a few mins. before I go out there.
Me – ‘Can I help you?’
HOA Guy – ‘Uh I’m here to inform you to remove and replace the dying tree.’
Me – ‘Okay which one is dying?’
HOA Guy – ‘That one (points to a tree w/ yellow leaves)’
Me – ‘That tree is not dying.’
HOA Guy – ‘Yes it is, the leaves are yellow and are falling off.’
Me – ‘Uh… it’s Fall, and trees do that.’
HOA Guy – ‘The other tree’s leaves are not yellow.’
Me – ‘They’ll get yellow eventually, this happens every year. It’s called f’n Nature.’
HOA Guy doesn’t say another word and walks off. I never heard another word from them about the ‘dying tree’.”
I Don’t Think That’s An Abandoned Vehicle
“They attempted to fine me for an abandoned vehicle. The ‘vehicle’ in question was a squirrel feeder tray. It sat atop a broomstick sized pole, at about waist high. In my back yard. Out of sight of them driving or walking by. It kept the critters out of my birdfeeder, my neighbor’s plants and I got some great photos.
In going through the homeowner’s booklet they issued me, I saw nothing regarding a feeder. Not for birds, deer, heck, I wasn’t prevented from putting rat or bear food out if I wanted to. So I wrote back.
I assured them that the squirrel feeder was not drivable, heck, it wasn’t even street legal and I’d never had it licensed. And since it was within my own property lines and not on the street, I wondered how they came up with ‘abandoned’. ‘Are your lawn chairs on your deck abandoned?’ I cautioned them about walking on the lawn in the future (which they are not allowed to do per their own rules) because I was worried they would track fertilizer into their homes and poison their pets.
And then I told them that since it was pretty obvious that someone there was looking for excuses to fine me, I’d remove it. (and now I pour the squirrel food on the ground) And I sent that email to the person who wrote the fine, their boss, the head of my local community management, and the highest person I could find at the corporate level. When I was assured they were not looking for excuses to fine me, I asked them to explain this fine plus the one a month earlier where they tried to ding me for not mowing my grass twice in a week. I’m sorry it grew fast I guess? And then I sent them the mowing guidelines from my lawn company which they so thoughtfully provided (when I asked) in an easy to copy/paste format. The HOA Devils had no reply after that.”
“All Cars Must Be Moved Every 24 Hours”
“I was living with my sister and her husband in their townhouse. One of the board members ‘walked the property’ every day to look for infractions. She walked along the street but she also walked behind every townhouse.
The board was aware I was living there. When I bought a new car I parked my old car (1978 Datsun 280Z) in the ‘extra’ parking spaces, which were out of the way; not near the townhomes. Plus, there were spaces for 15 to 20 other cars that went unused.
My brother-in-law received a letter that my car was unregistered. My car was still registered out of state and it still had a valid registration. The license plate was under a car cover so Miss Walk-the-Property was touching my car too. Just great. So they’re nosey too. My brother-in-law went to the next meeting to let them know he was going to file a police report in case whoever lifted the car cover might have also vandalized my car (it wasn’t vandalized and he wasn’t going to file a report).
A week or so later the board came up with a rule that all vehicles in ‘community’ parking spaces (not in garages) must be moved every 24 hours. Several homeowners complained but the board ignored them. My brother-in-law was the only person to receive a warning letter and fine from the board.
He went to the next meeting to explain I did move my old car every day but parked it back in the same spot. He then said he would happily pay any fee when the board produced the 24-hour video that proved my vehicle had not been moved. When they said there was no video, he smiled and then offered to pay the fine if they could produce the log and people who watched the vehicle 24 hours.
Of course, they couldn’t. They insisted the rule was valid and I was guilty of not moving my vehicle. I started reversing the car when I moved it… in the same spot. Head in one day. Backed in the next. Still not good enough for them. So I moved it between two spaces; left, right, left, right. Still not good enough.
Now my brother-in-law was angry since this was clearly targeting one person. The board lawyer was also not happy with the board by this point. He didn’t say anything but his tone was not pleased.
So, every evening my brother-in-law would drive my car to the house of each board member, beep the horn several times, then move on to the next one. He did this for a week before he received a letter to stop. No fine. Just stop.
He had his lawyer reply indicating he was on a public road and making sure the board members were aware the vehicle had been moved since they had not designated anyone to monitor the vehicles or have a video covering all parking spaces. He continued making the board members aware my car had been moved every day.
A week later, he got a letter saying they would waive the fine if he would stop. He replied that he would continue as long as the ‘unfair and targeted’ rule could ever be used again. So, he continued.
Another few days went by before the board announced the rule had been repealed. They never bothered us again.”
The Gall Of These Crazy People
“I usually like living in HOAs and the ones I’ve lived in have been decent but my parents HOA is insane. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer and began his chemo, he became too weak to walk. My parents installed a ramp at the front door so he could get his wheelchair into the house.
Their neighbor, the HOA president, went crazy. She demanded doctors’ notes, appointment slips, and that my dad proves to the neighborhood that he could walk and was lying. My dad was too weak to do anything and mom is too passive so I had to step in. I threatened to lawyer up and sue her personally. She eventually backed down.
My dad passed away in April and a week after, she came banging at our door saying she saw the funeral home come and pick my dad up and that we need to take the ramp down now “that he’s finally dead.” (Her exact words.) At that point, I called the police right in front of her to report her for stalking and harassment.
I moved in with my mom and now every time this woman sees me, she runs back into her house.
On another note, she follows neighborhood kids home from school asking their names and where they live because she wants to know if “they really live there” and my neighbors and I have caught her many time looking into our backyards.”
Asking Permission For A Dish?
“Wife and I rented a condo when we first got married as we saved up for a place of our own. We were looking to purchase a condo as a starter home. Because this was a condo, they didn’t have the normal Comcast cable available that was available in the rest of our city. The only option was some extremely limited super expensive service. We saw other units with satellite dishes installed. We had been Dish Network customers in the past, and didn’t think twice and had their service installed.
We get a frantic call from the owner of the condo. You need to take down the dish now. The HOA is going to find me and I’ll pass it on to you. To our surprise, we needed to get the HOA to approve us installing the Dish. We had to file the request, wait for the monthly meeting. Just for them to deny it for some reason. Personally, I think it was because we were renters and not the owners, so my understanding is they are harder on non-owners. We ended up just leaving the dish up while we figured things out. And that did not make them happy.
Anyways, we had to install the dish so it couldn’t be seen from any of the community/public spaces around the unit. So I came up with the idea of putting a planter in front of the dish to hide it so you ‘couldn’t see the dish from any public space’. They agreed, and we installed a planter with a big tea bush (I say big, but was just a tad larger than the dish). A month goes by, and we get another frantic call from the landlord. Now the HOA is mad at us because they can see plants from any public space. It turns out none of your personal plants are to be seen from public spaces either. I could walk out the front door, and see more plants on other people’s units than I could count.
We ended up taking the plant out and moving the Dish into the most hidden area we could. I spend countless hours and money trying to make the HOA happy. They ended up leaving us alone but not after picking on us numerous, in my opinion, non-justified times. I personally feel they didn’t like us and were using the HOA as a tool to try and get us kicked out or leave. It felt very personal. It made our relationship with our landlord unnecessarily stressed.
This went on for months. We only planned on living there for about two years while we got our finances in order and started looking for a place of our own. We ended up moving out after about a year. We thank the HOA for being a big motivator. It also led us to realize we don’t want to get a place that has an HOA. So big thanks to being an unnecessary pain in the butt. I can understand why you would want or need an HOA, but with no one keeping them in check, they can turn into a monster. Think about it when you buy a place because you’re married at that point. Just my two cents…”
Don’t Mess With This Guy
“It’s 6:30 AM, and my cats are going nuts, and I realize someone is in my backyard. At the time I worked as a bouncer and very frequently got the ‘I’m going to come to your house’ type threats. I live in the same HOA (albeit a huge one) as a bunch of idiot customers. My sliding door starts jiggling. I grab my sidearm and throw open the blinds. Outside, on my porch is a dumb old man. I start screaming, make him get on his knees, and call the cops.
Low and behold, he’s an inspector from my HOA, there because a neighbor reported me cutting down a half-dead tree that was about to fall on my house. Cops show up. They are actual police, but only work in the HOA, they are not happy with me, but because I said the right words on the 911 call, the county sheriffs also show up. They basically have an argument with the local cops about the fact that being an HOA inspector doesn’t allow you to come onto someone’s enclosed deck and that since I didn’t physically attack the inspector, I didn’t commit a crime.
We spend all morning going back and forth, finally, we basically agree to an ‘everyone goes home’ agreement. HOA sends me a strongly worded letter.”
A Litany of Lousy HOA Rules
“A friend in Florida once had his mailbox hit by a vehicle and knocked over. He righted it to the best of his ability until a few days later a notice showed up about needing to fix his mailbox. He complained that he had fixed it; a subsequent letter indicated that an inspector had taken a level and found that it was too far out of plumb and would need to be repaired.
The same friend got another notice that his house was not an approved color. Confused, as his house had always been the same color and there had never been an issue before, he contacted the association to challenge the complaint. They responded that a routine check – using paint swatches as comparisons – had determined that weathering and sunlight had caused the shade to go out of compliance.
One time while out of town, I got a notification about vehicles being parked on front of my home overnight. I explained we had been out of town and asked for a vehicle description. Turns out it was my brother-in-law who was stopping by to feed the cats while we were away. In the ten minutes he had been parked there, an enforcement officer determined the car had been parked there overnight in violation of the rules.
Lastly, the same association once sent me multiple letters about putting up foil or reflective insulation in the windows visible from the street, which I continually challenged as I had never done such a thing. When I demanded photographic evidence, it turned out it was because the enforcement guy, who lived down the street, was getting irritated at reflections of the sun during a particular season. Off the glass.
Needless to say, I now refuse to buy in an area with an HOA.”
Everything Must Be Perfect!
“Recently my HOA got upset that my gardening in front of my townhouse was not up to par. So they sent someone around my house to find every possible violation they could, so their warning notice would not look too sparse. That meant every spot on my house where they felt the paint looked a bit dirty, like underneath my third-story soffits. Okay, I hadn’t cleaned those recently. Never mind how many people don’t clean soffits that are 30 feet off the ground; guilty as charged.
One of the items was a rake board. That, too, was dirty.
For those unaware, the rake board is a narrow strip of wood on the side of the house, running right under the edge of the roof. It’s painted.
I live in a townhouse. My roof is maybe two feet higher than my neighbor’s. What this means is that, from the street, you can’t see my rake board at all. Not from the front of the house or from the back. Not even from standing across the street on top of a hill. It’s not visible.
But….if you walk down about five houses, and THEN climb the hill, and THEN use a telephoto camera, you can get a picture of it.
So I had to hire someone to go up and put fresh paint on a piece of wood no one ever sees. While up there, where he could see all the other roofs, my handyman said, ‘What’s their problem with this? It looks exactly like every other rake board in this line of houses. None of them have been cleaned.’
Yeah. Like that.”
HOA Picks On The Wrong Rich Guy
“My mom told me a great story of the vengeance one of her clients enacted after being harassed by a tyrannical HOA. The guy is a surgeon, and very wealthy. He bought a piece of property and the HOA started really messing with him bad, ripping his trees out, fining him large sums of money for infractions that were baseless, and when he would fight them and ask for proof, they would retaliate by messing with him even more, they fined him for the paint color of the house (which was already on there when he bought the property) so he paid to have the house repainted. Then they fined him because ‘the mailbox wasn’t the right color,’ the list goes on and on. This guy even stopped coming to the property after a while and lived in another house because he couldn’t take it anymore. The pettiness and retaliation were becoming overwhelming and he was done.
The revenge: Being a pretty prestigious surgeon, and having a boatload of money, he decided to buy every piece of property that became available in the neighborhood. This plot took over a year of buying property after property in this neighborhood, he would put them in names of different businesses he owned as to not raise suspicion. The HOA didn’t even see it coming. He showed up to an HOA meeting where they were re-electing all of the board members for the year, to discuss a grievance he had about one of the many letters he had received, fining him for yet another ridiculous ‘violation.’ They basically told him to pound sand. He said something to the effect of ‘Here’s a list of all the properties I now own in this neighborhood, and that makes me the majority owner, I’m disbanding this HOA.’ They were stunned, but there was nothing they could do. He defeated them. When my mom told me this story it really gave me a justice hard-on because of the heinous HOA that we grew up with.”