Welcome To The Neighborhood
Home sweet home! Or so “Dewey,” thought.
After inheriting his grandparent’s house, Dewey found himself feeling uncertain about what he wished to do with his childhood home. He was far too attached to the house, so selling it was not an option. Therefore, Dewey decided to move into the home until he felt ready to make a decision he felt most comfortable with.
Occupying a home that’s completely paid for, in a nice, quiet neighborhood is anyone’s dream. However, every dream has a nightmare to counter.
You see, for some people, turning down a house in a neighborhood with streets made of gold is worth it if it means avoiding the trials and tribulations that come with being under the wrath of an overbearing Home Owners Association. Not every HOA is bothersome, but there are quite a few that tend to go way overboard with their “duties.”
From protecting the community to terrorizing people with a wave of tyranny, dreadful HOAs can make any homeowner lose their mind. The poor, unsuspecting Dewey had no idea about the existence of the HOA that ruled his neighborhood with an iron fist. But when three goblins from the neighborhood committee came knocking on his door, Dewey would quickly learn about their intimidating demeanor and rash decision-making to assert dominance.
What they didn’t realize, was that Dewey bowed down to no one.
One week after settling into his new home, Dewey was arranging furniture when he jumped at the sound of heavy-handed knocking on his door. He collected himself before approaching his front door.
There were two middle-aged women and an older man waiting for him. Their faces were far from friendly. One woman was tapping her foot on the wooden porch, while the other woman gripped a brown leather portfolio in her hands so tight, Dewey saw the whites of her knuckles. The man that was with them looked Dewey up and down before he took a step back off the porch. He then looked up at the house Dewey inherited, taking it all in before lurking away.
Before Dewey could object, the woman who was tapping her foot finally spoke.
“My name is ‘Maisie’,” she introduced herself. “This is ‘Esther’, and our friend over there is ‘Ted.'” Maisie waved her arm over to where Ted had disappeared on the side of the house. Dewey felt uneasy not being able to see what Ted was doing but swallowed his nervousness as he forced a smile and extended his hand to Maisie.
Maisie looked as if she were about to shake Dewey’s hand, but provided a curt nod instead. Esther stared unblinking at Dewey with an emotionless expression on her face.
Dewey felt the smile evaporate from his face. He had no idea who these people were, but if they were neighbors, they were making a terrible first impression.
Finally, Maisie said, “We are board members of the neighborhood committee here. Esther has your membership paperwork that must be signed right now or you may be subjected to a fine.”
“A fine?” Dewey repeated. “Why? I only just moved here. I didn’t even know there was a committee.”
“That’s the problem,” Maisie said in a more serious tone. “This paperwork was supposed to be signed before you even moved in.”
“Well, I…” Dewey’s voice trailed off as he watched Esther open the portfolio and produce a stack of papers clipped together. Then without warning, the woman practically shoved the paperwork in Dewey’s face.
“Sign it,” Esther grunted.
He resisted the urge to snatch the papers as he grabbed them. Reluctantly, Dewey started skimming the cover page and saw that sure enough, the neighborhood was under an HOA.
“If you don’t mind,” Maisie spoke again. “You can read over the rules later. We need you to sign these papers, pronto.”
“No,” Dewey replied. “Do you just sign papers without reading them?” When Maisie said nothing, Dewey returned his gaze to the paperwork that had been violently thrust at him and mumbled, “Didn’t think so.”
Maisie and Esther gave each other annoyed glances as they watched Dewey read over the first page of the paperwork. Dewey wasn’t really going to read the stack of paperwork in front of them. If anything, he felt the need to stall to find the perfect reason to dismiss them from his property.
A few more minutes of reading passed by before Maisie’s foot started tapping again.
“Are you done yet? We have other places to be.”
“Just sign the first page and you can read the rest later,” Esther persisted.
Before Dewey could respond, that’s when he heard the unmistakable sound of his garage door being opened.
Rules Of The Patriarchy
Dewey threw the stack of paperwork down and pushed his way through Maisie and Esther to see what was happening. To his right, Ted held the handle of his garage door as he continued to haul it upwards.
Dewey couldn’t believe his eyes. The sheer audacity of Ted to randomly open someone’s garage without asking set off major red flags. At first, Dewey couldn’t bring himself to speak as Ted poke around his personal belongings as if he was a rightful resident of the place.
“Do you mind telling me what the hell you’re doing?” Dewey said from his porch.
Ted turned around and gave Dewey a skeptical look before responding.
“I need to check your garage to make sure everything is in order. If you read the paperwork, you’ll see that I have a right to do this bi-weekly.” Ted perked up as he finished his rant. “Denying me access will result in a fine as per the regulations of the HOA.”
Dewey had had enough. With his voice raised, Dewey ordered all three of the board members to leave his property immediately.
“You still have to sign the paperwork,” Maisie complained.
“I’ll sign them when I’m ready. I don’t know what your deal is but I’ve met flies with better manners than you!” Dewey said.
Dewey then began to shoo them off his porch. This stunned the two women, but they quickly made their way down the steps without another word.
On his way back inside, Dewey snatched up the papers and slammed the front door. His uncontrollable shaking and heavy breathing took several minutes to subside as he looked over the paperwork.
As he continued reading each page, Dewey soon realized this HOA committee was not only nosy and rude but incredibly power-hungry. Upon reading the dense set of rules, if Dewey had signed the documents, he would have been giving these people the right to not only snoop around in his garage but to enter his home as they pleased.
Dewey saw another rule stating all homeowners must mow their grass once a week or risk facing a fine. During the winter, snow had to be shoveled every two hours on the residence beginning at five in the morning.
Dewey sat on his couch and pondered the incredibly tedious rules of the HOA. He wasn’t sure if his grandparents ever had to deal with their nonsense. However, Dewey was absolutely certain he wanted nothing to do with these people. He gathered all the paperwork and threw it all in the trash.
A few more days went by of Dewey settling in. He purchased and installed a lock on his garage door to prevent members of the HOA from entering it without his consent. Afterward, Dewey was nestled on his couch in front of his television when he heard another formidable knocking at his door.
Holding his breath, Dewey approached the front door and tore open the door as if ripping off a bandaid.
The three goblins from the HOA had returned, but something was different.
This Means War
Maisie, Esther, and Ted stared at Dewey as he stood with his door wide open. Esther had her portfolio tucked under her arm as her eyes wandered past Dewey to peek inside his house.
“What do you people want?” Dewey sighed.
“We’re here to pick up the paperwork we asked you to sign a couple of days ago,” Maisie said matter-of-factly.
“And you can remove that lock from your garage,” Ted chimed in.
Esther said nothing as her eyes continued to dart around the interior of Dewey’s home.
“Yeah about that,” Dewey said. “I’m not signing it. I have no interest in joining your stupid little club.”
Maisie’s eyebrows raised. “Sir, our committee is more than a ‘club.'”
But Dewey was no longer interested in what the three of them had to say. Again, he waved to dismiss them and closed his door in their face. He heard shuffling around and imagined the three board members walking down the steps of his porch and retreating to whatever hole they emerged from.
“Good riddance,” Dewey muttered to himself.
Days later, Dewey continued to adjust to life in his grandparents’ home. He worked, did yard maintenance, and drove around to get more acquainted with the area. He still hadn’t made up his mind on what he wanted to do with the house, but he knew he was starting to lean toward keeping it for himself.
Life was swell. Dewey almost forgot about his run-in with the power-hungry HOA trolls. That wasn’t until he got a letter in the mail with a fine of over one thousand dollars.
The letter was actually multiple fines put together. The fines accrued were roughly $250 a piece for minor things. Most of them were for instances of Ted not being able to get into Dewey’s garage because of the lock he installed and others involved not being present during inspections regarding other aspects of the property.
Hardly bothered by the big bold letters on the statement, Dewey ended up using the notice to light his grill. Dewey never signed the paperwork. Technically, he wasn’t even a member of the HOA, so if they wanted to force their irrelevant rules on him, they were about to waste a lot of time, money, and printer ink.
After a few more days passed, Dewey was listening to his favorite tunes in the car as he was driving home from work. He turned the corner and drove down his street towards his house when he saw something that made him slam on his brakes.
Now Dewey had two oak trees in his yard that were planted by his grandparents when they first moved into the home. The trees were very sentimental to not just Dewey, but everyone in his family because they symbolized the love and unity they all share with one another.
So imagine the sheer horror that came over Dewey as he pulled up to his home and saw a crew of strange men in his yard carrying tools and pieces of one of the sacred trees back and forth to their utility truck. At a loss for words, Dewey looked around from his car and saw the ominous figure of someone inside his garage.
A few feet away from the crew, Ted was standing in front of Dewey’s broken garage door writing furiously on a notepad.
No Turning Back
Dewey whipped his car into his driveway and jumped out of his car. He then ran over to the crew that was walking all over his yard. He looked at all the equipment and shuddered as he saw the stump of one of the trees that had been completely cut down.
The crew was already hacking away at the second oak tree before Dewey found his voice.
“Stop! Stop it!” Dewey choked back tears. “What is going on?”
The crew looked at Dewey with confusion and curiosity. Dewey quickly explained he was the owner of the property and did not understand why and how they were cutting down the trees without his permission. One of the men audibly gasped and apologized. He then told Dewey that one of the members of the HOA committee hired them to come to remove the trees because it was violating their rules. The crewmember then shared how the same HOA board member told them the owner had agreed to have the trees removed.
“It’s not true,” Dewey said, completely distraught. “Who said that about me?”
“He did,” the crewmember said, pointing in the direction of Ted still poking through Dewey’s garage.
Dewey stormed off and approached Ted. Ted didn’t even flinch as Dewey marched toward him.
“So you break into my garage, and have them cut down the trees on my property without my consent?” Dewey yelled. “Do you realize how illegal this is?”
“It’s not illegal,” Ted said nonchalantly. “We told you. There are rules around here. You chose not to follow them, so you get to reap the consequences.”
Dewey snapped. “I didn’t sign anything that makes me a part of this HOA. What gives you the right to cut down my grandparents’ trees? Do you realize what you’ve done!?”
“Yes,” Ted replied. “Because the leaves from those trees were getting into the neighbor’s yard, we sent you a notice that you had two weeks to remove them. You didn’t comply so we called in reinforcements.”
Dewey couldn’t believe how cruel Ted was acting toward him. He looked back at the lonely stump next to the last tree standing. The pain of losing something so sentimental filled Dewey with unfathomable rage.
Dewey demanded Ted leave his property at once.
“I’ve got what I needed anyway,” Ted shrugged. “Expect a fine in the mail about the removal.”
Dewey shook his head. “And you expect a call from my lawyer. You’re gonna pay for this!”
A lot of preparation took place leading up to the trial. Dewey called the cops that same day and pressed charges against Ted for breaking and entering. After things simmered down, Dewey contacted the crew that cut down the tree and made a deal with them. Dewey promised to overlook them trespassing and damaging his property if they testified in court.
The crew had no objections to Dewey’s proposition, and after hiring the best lawyer he could find, Dewey immediately took the HOA to court. He had a police report, eyewitnesses, and documented proof of the HOA harassing him since the day he moved in.
Of course, the “evidence” brought in by the HOA only supported Dewey’s claim. The trial was short but oh, so satisfying.
Not only did the HOA have to pay Dewey for the damages to his garage door and the tree, but they also had to cough up money to have a professional arborist treat the second tree that got partially damaged. The trial had already cost the HOA well over 50k. The HOA had hired three pricey lawyers to represent them in court and ended up paying thousands of dollars in lawyer and court fees. Altogether, the HOA was looking at a loss of 120k.
Then, Dewey took it a step further.
Dewey took his case to civil court as well. He sued the HOA for emotional damages and added how he felt threatened by their presence in his neighborhood. Because of documented evidence of Ted breaking into his garage, the court believed every claim Dewey made regarding his fear of someone breaking and entering was so severe that he couldn’t sleep at night.
So on top of the 50k the HOA had to pay, another 500k was thrown on top of that, plus the cost of a brand new alarm system.
Altogether, the HOA took a loss of roughly 750k. They had to file for bankruptcy. By order of the judge, a mediator stepped in to check their books to ensure Dewey was compensated accordingly.
A satisfied Dewey watched as everything unfolded. However, the best of his triumph came last. In the midst of the settlement, the dark truth about the HOA was finally brought to light.
Thieves In The Night
It didn’t take long for the mediator to uncover the HOA’s dirty little secret. Maisie, Esther, and Ted were all defrauding the HOA. Over the course of ten years, the three goons issued excessive fines to bolster their income.
To pay back the money, the three of them had no choice but to sell their homes, abolishing the HOA in the process.
News spread fast about Dewey taking down the HOA. His neighbors never wanted an HOA to begin with but feared fines out of the wazoo by the three HOA goblins if they refused to cooperate. Dewey became well-known throughout the neighborhood for his heroic actions.
Dewey had no idea how serious things were behind the scenes. Although he would never be able to recover the first tree that the HOA cut down, the second tree survived keeping part of his family’s legacy alive.