In theory, an HOA sounds great on paper. They're supposed to help maintain the common areas in a neighborhood, while also helping to improve the morale. Yet, no matter what, all HOAs never turn out the way they should. Whether it’s because of a silly rule, a board member going crazy with power, or insanely steep fines, HOA's have gotten a terrible reputation over the last few years. These stories definitely prove those reasons to be true!
We've compiled our favorite stories that show the true terror of living in an HOA. Enjoy the horror that is to come!
Yikes! HOA! Content has been edited for clarity.
“A HOA was established in my neighborhood a few years ago. 3 people volunteered for the board. One of the women on the board had a thing against birds. She passed a rule saying that nobody was allowed to have bird feeders citing they were destructive and an eyesore to the community. I didn’t have a bird feeder but I went and bought one just to see what happen. Installed it dead center of my front yard. Got a $25 fine in the mail 2 days later. I laughed at put it on the fridge. 2 days later…got another one. As this was happening more and more people were putting bird feeders on the front yards….just to see if anything would really happen. Nobody planned on paying any of the fines from the neighbors that I talked to. A couple weeks went by and one Saturday morning my neighbor called me at about 7am telling me to come outside and look down the street. There were at least a hundred birds on the woman’s property that passed the rule against the bird feeders. There was a police officer on scene trying to figure out what to do. Apparently somebody covered this lady’s property in bird seed overnight….like a lot of bird seed. Eventually they brought a K-9 unit to chase them off…but they kept coming back because of the seeds. Eventually the birds did leave and this woman’s house was COVERED in bird poo. You couldn’t walk on the property without stepping in it.
The next day the woman resigned from the HOA and it was dismantled shortly after that. Nobody ever paid any of the fines.”
Surprise Horrifying Payments
“My mother lived in her home from 1995 to 2013. When she purchased the house, there was no HOA. Around 1999, she received an invitation to a neighbor ‘meeting’ the next day, at a time she could not possibly attend because of her work hours. Skip forward to 2009: she received a bill for ten years of HOA dues. This was the first and only contact referencing HOA since the 1999 invite. The letter claimed she had one month to pay in full or her house would be seized and sold to cover both the dues and all associated legal fees. Turns out every home and family that did not attend that meeting got the same letter. This amounted to approximately fifty families. My mother and her neighbor both chose to fight it and spoke to a lawyer. He requested documentation of previous notices, invoices, and bylaws. Some people paid the back dues scared by the letter, but many did not. No one’s houses were sold. Turns out the HOA never notified anyone (other than those at the meeting) that they existed, what the dues were, and what the fees covered. The lawyer essentially got them to ‘reset’ everything. In January 2010, all homeowners started paying HOA dues, knew the restrictions of the neighborhood, and the HOA started keeping better records than just who was paid in full.
The only other notice my mother ever received from them was due to the ‘crazy cat lady’ that lived across the street. The letter claimed a fine was due and stated that my mother needed to stop leaving plates of cat food on her sidewalk. My mother fortunately had filed complaints both with the city and the HOA about this behavior, because it had been going on for at least a year. She ended up not paying a fine. This crazy cat lady would place plates of cat food on the sidewalks of other people’s houses, so stray cats wouldn’t have to cross the road to get to her house to be fed. I was home on vacation, so I took a copy of the letter and the plates of food to the neighbor’s house. I explained the problem and told her she needed to stop. The lady never stopped, she would put out cat food just after sunset, but started retrieving them around five in the morning.”
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.”
“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 town homes. 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. 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.”
Kill Them With Kindness
“My apartment association recently gave me the run around on a malfunctioning water heater. They had replaced my old one and the new one immediately started messing up and blowing the circuit assigned to it. Their logic? “It’s brand new! It can’t be broken! Must be a wiring problem from the installation”. Fair enough. After a week of cold showers and the Maintenance people messing with it on a daily basis, I begin to lose my patience. The maintenance guy confesses to me that he doesn’t think it’s a wiring problem since “I’ve tried everything I can think of that might be the problem and a few things more than once”. I am perplexed by this. I ask him what he thinks may be the problem then. He says “I think one of the heating rods is malfunctioning and that’s what’s blowing the circuit. I ask him, suspecting the answer, why then we’re still messing with the wiring when he doesn’t think that’s the problem. Are we just killing time until we get the part in (I ask with some desperate hope). No, the apartment management won’t let him even order the part because “it simply can’t be broken, it’s brand new!”. So, at this I absolutely redline. I am furious. I did not yell at the Maintenance guy, he was a super good guy, in fact I did not even yell at management. I don’t like yelling at people. Instead, I threw some toiletries in a bag and headed down to the office building. Like a lot of apartment complexes, this building is also a kind of clubhouse, with a gym, pool, game room, hot tub. The whole shebang. But more importantly, it had public showers. Now since this happened during the COVID summer of this year, all of this had shuddered. Which meant there were perfectly good showers not being used in the office. So I walk up to the door and knock. Person cracks the door:
Person: how can I help you?
Me (with my best customer service smile): yes, I live in [apartment number] and my water heater has been broken for about a week n-
Person: yes, we’re working on that. We’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with it and will get it fixed as soon as possible -tries to close door-
Me, sticking my foot in the door, still smiling like a saint and not batting an eye: yes yes, of course. I was I was just thinking, in the interim, until you can get it fixed, I’ll just use the ones down here. After all, this looks like it’s gonna take awhile and it’d be unreasonable to expect me to take ice cold showers indefinitely, right?
Person, clearly unhappy about this: well you’d have to wear a mas-
Me, cheery as all get out: absolutely! Wouldn’t want anyone getting sick!
Person: well… if you want to go and get your stuff you can come back dow-
Me: no need! I brought it with me, I won’t be a minute!
-runs back to car, grabs stuff, comes back in and proceeds to take a 45 glorious minute shower-
-as I’m walking back out-
Person: well, just let us know if you need anything else
Me: oh absolutely. Y’all are opening up at 9am now, right?
Me: cool! I’ll see y’all tomorrow at 9:15am.
I had Maintenance people back in my apartment that night and my water fixed by noon the next day. It was beautiful. The heating rod had exploded and was bent at a 90 degree angle. And the best part? I was never anything less than the picture of polite and pleasant. Kill them with all the kindness.
“We had an annual cleanup day scheduled for a Saturday morning, and all our junk to be picked up had to be at the curb by 7 a.m. I got my junk on the curb the day before late in the afternoon, after I got off work.
Yep- you guessed it- the HOA tried to send me notice of non-compliance because I had junk in my yard.
The HOA takes pictures, but prints the notices to correct without being in color. If the violation is small, you can’t really tell what the problem is. Once I got a weed violation, even though there were no weeds in my yard. They took a picture of my neighbor’s yard and sent the notice to me. The funny thing is the neighbor had no weeds either!
The guy that takes the pictures and sends noticeswarnings doesn’t live in our community. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t live in the same town, or even the county! He will take a picture, and then send the notice a week later. You can tell because the picture is dated, and the postmark is a week later. The quickest letter I have seen is postmarked 6 days after the picture. Don’t forget that the letter doesn’t get to my mailbox until 3 days after the post mark on the letter. This means that at best, the warning is 10–14 days old. Once the guy sent a warning 2 weeks after the picture was taken. 2 days later, I got a notice that the violation had not been corrected- the picture was taken a week later- before he mailed the first warning! This was for a few weeds on the side of my house. I had already removed the weeds before I got the first warning, and some had grown back because of heavy rainfall. I was given a fine, but because of my home security cameras that clearly showed I removed the weeds before the violation was sent, I didn’t have to pay.
Finally, I got tired of the harassment and the complete ineptitude of the HOA enforcer. This guy was from a property management company- not a resident in the community. I emailed the HOA board (who are residents in the community) with details about how this guy was lacking in the skills of evaluating violations, lack of consistency, and unable to send warnings and violations in a timely manner. Guess who gets the emails sent to the HOA board? Yep- the guy that enforces the rules. He stated he would share my concerns with the board. Guess what- I have not heard from anyone on the HOA board!”
They Played Themselves
“We lived from 1990 to 2000 in the private community of Spring Valley Lake, next to Victorville, California. The community was adjacent to the Mojave River which, draining from the Lake Arrowhead area, has a surprising amount of water, just all underneath the sand. The community was not gated, but was private, meaning we had to pay for our own road repair, the pumps that continually filled the lake which then drained back into the riverbed, the upkeep on community property, stocking of the lake with fish, local community parks, a community center, as well as security guards. When someone asks why you would have an HOA, that’s why.
But, as much as we got for so little, the homeowner’s association also had their drawbacks. My boys were in middle school at the time and wanted a basketball hoop. Next to me was a vacant, undeveloped lot. If I put a basketball backboard where the boys could use the driveway and shoot, then the missed shots would merely go into a vacant lot. I found a basketball pole and backstop, and then came up with a steel sleeve that was just slightly larger. I cut the concrete, put in the sleeve, and I slipped the pole down into the sleeve. It was in for about a year, when I got the ‘violation’ notice from the HOA. They wanted to fine me something like $500 for putting in something that wasn’t allowed. They said if I wanted, with their permission, I could put a pole in front of the garage. They said that I could apply for a variance, that perhaps they would allow it temporarily, and when I asked how I could find out, they said I had to file a $100 ‘architectural fee’ and get a hearing.
I paid the fee, they scheduled me for a hearing, and I went to talk to them. I toured the community and took approximately 100 photos of others who had done the same thing. They weren’t interested in what ‘others’ were doing, just that they were enforcing it against me. They said there was no way that they would allow a permanent installation, that it had to be portable, and I told them that it WAS portable. They said no, it was permanent as it was in concrete, and I again told them that it was NOT permanent, hence the sleeves. Once I told them this, they then said that it wasn’t covered by any regulation, and asked why I had brought this to the architectural committee. I told them that I hadn’t, THEY had brought me to them. They said that was wrong, that they were wrong, since it was removable it didn’t come under the rules. So, I asked for my $100 fee back. Their attitude was that ANY fee was non-refundable, whether filed in error or not, and refused. It wasn’t worth fighting, they kept my $100.”
The Tree Guy Was Right
“When my folks moved into their home, they noticed a couple of dead trees and had someone take them down. The tree guy suggested they take down two more leaning trees that were likely to fall down if they got hit with high winds. My dad scheduled the second round of trees to come down a couple of weeks later.
In the interim, the HOA contacted my parents and said that they had unapproved work done by removing the dead trees and that they would have to get HOA approval to remove any more. My dad had the tree guy send over a report about the dangerous trees to the HOA. The HOA refused to allow my parents to take the trees down. My dad canceled the appointment with the tree guy.
Fast-forward three weeks and a hurricane blows through, which isn’t unexpected since this is Florida in September. Like the tree guy predicted, both leaning trees came down and completely destroyed the neighbor’s roof. The neighbor was pretty cool about it, but his insurance tried to get my parents to pay for it, claiming they knew the trees were dangerous and didn’t have them removed. My parents sent along with the rejection letter from the HOA and told the insurance company to have a chat with them instead. I’m not sure what happened beyond that but I know my parents didn’t have to pay.”
Have A Nosey HOA? Hang A Dead Feral Hog On Your Post!
“I bought a house in a development that had died. My house was built in the 70s. But a new developer came in and as houses started being built everywhere, they enacted the HOA clause and populated it with rich retired folks that just make up dumb rules. Wrote a rule that you had to put up a fence around your backyard. So I did. They didn’t like my fence so they changed the specifications for the fence.
I got irritated and had a friend give me a dead feral hog to hang on a post in my front yard. The dogs in the hood loved me.
It didn’t solve anything but since I had a dog door I would sometimes wake up with 15 dogs around my bed who came in during a storm. I was the crazy redneck, but the dogs loved me and I like them more than humans.”
Begin The Rebellion!
We no longer have a HOA for our community area. Though it was not this specific complaint that ended it, it was this complaint that started the rebellion. We’d had some minor run-ins with the HOA. We had opted NOT to have an oak tree in our yard, near the street, provided free by the builder. That started a very early rift with the HOA from the day we built the house. We didn’t have any rolling elevation to the front yard. The builder opted to put the driveway on the wrong side of the corner (rather than make a tough climb for the driveway). Although the city approved everything and technically nothing violated the HOA, the HOA cited ‘continuity’ as an issue with our house. We didn’t fit in.
Our house was the subject of more than one HOA meeting. We would get the letter. I decided to see what the big hubbub was about. Someone filed a complaint that we were not properly picking up after our dogs in the corner lot everyone has to walk past it. No one knew I was there. So I raised my hand like a school boy.
I identified myself as the owner of the lot on the corner, and we have no pets. Well, not other than turtles and they currently occupy an aquarium. I haven’t trained them for the leash yet. Without identifying anyone – though I looked at them in turn while glancing about at others present – I said that other home-owners like to walk their dogs past our property and allow their dogs to use our property as a make-shift rest-room. And not pick up after them. I do, in fact pick up the stuff left by other home-owners’ pets on our property as often as I can. However, the difficulty of picking up after multiple homeowners’ pets is not to be discounted. Especially since some people allow the long leashes so that their dogs can use any part of our yard they choose. Perhaps a discussion on picking up after pets leaving left-overs in other people’s yards would be more beneficial to the time and efforts of the HOA?
This, of course, only angered the HOA. They started filing complaints outside of meetings, so that I couldn’t reply to them. The final one did in the HOA, as it pretty much started tearing apart the HOA. The HOA filed a complaint that my air conditioner on the roof was visible from the road. The HOA agreement specifically states that no roof-based equipment shall be visible from the ground. I took this to the HOA meeting to be addressed. After all, the builder had put in the air-conditioner at the time of construction and it was not a modification we had applied. It was not visible from in front of the house or the sides. I was curious where they were looking from since the house is two stories high.
The head of the HOA said that if you drive up the street that you can see the air-conditioner plain as day. That is a direct violation of the HOA agreement and we should immediately move on to fines, this was settled business. Up the street? You can see ALL the homes except for those at the highest point of the area. Including the HOA head’s house. Therefore, he was in violation as well, so were all of his neighbors. So was everyone in the meeting except for three people. So if fines were to be the settled business at this point, they were voting to fine nearly everyone present.
Instead, the HOA voted to eject me from the meeting and the HOA for being a troublemaker. They said they would contact the builder as to what to do with a property owner outside the HOA. I told them the builder went out of business last year, so good luck with that. After that everyone else wondered why they were part of a HOA anymore as well. It took less than nine months for the HOA to fall apart.”