Who Would Want To Live In An HOA?
Living in an HOA (Homeowner Association) community has its pros and cons. Not too sure about the pros, but the main con seems to be aggressive HOA board members.
Unfortunately, after moving into his fiancé’s condo, which was located on the HOA property, the new resident, “Austin” quickly found himself being a major target. Aware of all the HOA’s horror stories, Austin made sure to follow its policies. Especially because of his line of work then.
He was a volunteer to train and raise service dogs. At that time, he was training his six-month-old black lab, “Max”. And since animal/ pet policies are everywhere, not only in an HOA community, he thought he was doing everything right. He made sure he cleaned up after Max and he was always on a leash. However, he still managed to get noticed by the HOA.
And based on what I’ve read, that’s not a good thing. It seemed like anything he did, he was breaking some type of bylaw. So eventually, being fed up, he decided to get revenge on them.
It was the Saturday Austin and his fiancé, “Taylor” had plans to visit her family. They didn’t live close, so before the long road trip, they took Max outside to do his business. In one hand, Austin had one empty doggie bag, and in the other, he held grip of the leash. After a few minutes, the doggie bag was soon full. Seeing how the trash bin was only 100 feet away from where Max went, Austin handed Taylor the leash and commanded Max to sit.
As he walked to the trash bin, he looked back at Max, who was still sitting and being very alert. He was watching Austin intently for a hand cue or voice command. When Austin reached the trash bin, there was a loud banshee scream. Austin frantically turned around, seeing not only his two favorite people but also one angry lady. Just the way she was glaring at him, he knew right away there was going to be an issue.
Everything about this lady screamed “Karen”— she was not an inch over five feet, and had that short “I want to speak with your manager” chopped haircut.
As she walked closer to Austin, she screamed, “Your dog must be on a leash and in your hand! My county state law says so! I will call the cops if you can’t follow a simple rule!”
No hi or hello, she just went straight to screaming. If Taylor didn’t already warn him about the lady being the “HOA Karen,” he would’ve been completely confused about whom the nutcase was.
So trying to be polite, yet with a firm voice, Austin said, ‘Ma’am, my dog has a — “
She immediately cut him off. Instead of giving him chance to explain himself, she went on and on about how she was a part of the HOA and policy ‘this’ and ‘that’.
Finally, getting fed up with the nonsense, Austin spoke up, “I can’t listen to any more of this garbage, lady! If you would’ve taken two seconds to look, you would’ve seen my dog sitting on a leash in someone’s hands.”
Not believing him, she turned around. Unfortunately for her, he was right. Feeling stupid, her face turned red. However, instead of apologizing for her own mistake, she said, “Well, you’re welcome. Now you know what the policy is.”
Austin replied, “Shut the heck up! Leave me alone!”
He was so over being polite at this point, especially if she couldn’t say a simple “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding” to him.
Without saying anything else, she waddled quickly into her condo door. Unfortunately, that encounter wouldn’t be the last he heard from her.
The HOA President
A few weeks later, Austin decided to grill outside. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. Living in an HOA community, nothing is ever that simple. There were in fact policies that stated: “No charcoal grills. No smoking. No barbecues.” However, nothing in the policy book stated against grilling.
Being from the south, Austin was well-aware of the differences between barbecuing and grilling. Barbecue usually lasts 12+ hours with either coal or wood smoking. While grilling is cooking meat on a grill, instead of the stove. So he didn’t think anything of it when he got his small propane grill out. As soon as he started cooking food, he heard the infamous banshee scream close by. When he looked up, there she was— Karen. Again, she didn’t even come up to him to talk but rather screamed the whole time. Not this again.
Austin looked her right in the eyes and said loudly, “Go away, lady! If you say one more word, I’ll be the one calling the cops for harassment by an HOA member.”
She yelled, “No grilling here!”
Austin responded, “If that’s true, then show me that in writing.”
To his surprise, she became silent and left. Thinking that was the end of the conversation, he continued grilling his food. However, a few minutes later, she came back, and this time with the HOA president, “Donald.” He had the HOA bylaws with him. She really went out of her way to get the HOA president to read them out loud.
Just before Donald began, Taylor came outside and introduced herself. She started small talk with them to which they seemed to really like her. The more she spoke, the more everyone’s attitude changed. Especially, Karen’s. Not only was she speaking in a normal tone, but also being polite. It was Austin who she claimed was rude. She painted him as the prick in their encounters together, however, Taylor wasn’t falling for her victim act.
With direct eye contact, Taylor said, “You know I was the one holding the leash that day, right? I also was just here when you came over screaming while he was grilling. How do you expect him to respect you if you can’t respect him?”
Karen’s face went pale. She didn’t expect to be called out like that. So as she was dumbfounded, Donald stepped in.
He said, “Look, we only came here to tell you, you can be fined for grilling. Follow our rules, or next time, I’ll be the one calling the cops.”
They both left, but not before Austin said sarcastically, “Roger that.”
Not the exact words he wanted to say to them as he was holding back his frustration. How could they be the ones to threaten him when he did nothing wrong? Did they really think he could be scared off too easily? They obviously weren’t aware of what he was capable of doing.
Little did they know, Austin had spent 17 years in the military. He managed over 130 service members and enforced all regulations. He spent hours reading handbooks and instructions. Nothing pleased him more than when he could shove his knowledge against a prick’s face. And at that moment, he wanted nothing more than shove it in the Donald’s and Karen’s faces.
So he began his scheme. He first researched the HOA’s bylaws. He came across a few interesting findings:
First, there was no HOA bylaw can be forced if it is not in the State’s database.’
Secondly, this particular HOA’s by-laws were last updated in 1994. We were in 2016.
Then they stated they follow the counties’ fire code, which followed ‘NFPA’ (National Fire Protection Association).
Finally, the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of the HOA’s property lines.
Might seem worthless information, but Austin had a plan to use it against the HOA.
First, he logged into the State’s database and printed the HOA’s bylaws. He also printed out the NFPA’s codes and standards, which stated “in a multi-family home you can store propane tanks no bigger than 2.7 liters, but they can total no more than 5.4 liters cumulatively.”
Next, he went to Lowe’s to purchase a rope, tape measurer, and stakes. From there, he pulled up Google maps and marked the HOA boundary line on it.
Low and behold, he found a drainage ditch that was city property, not even ten feet from where he was grilling. So he took the coordinates, stakes and carefully, marked off the section of the city property.
Now he only had one more thing to do before he could set forth with his plan— he had to make a phone call to the city fire department and request a permit to grill on said city property.
On the phone, they said, “Go for it. You don’t need a permit for it. No one will care.”
They clearly didn’t deal much with the HOA, so Austin insisted.
They said, “It’s 100 bucks for six months. This also covers open flame.”
Once he got that permit, his plan was ready for action. The next morning, he got up extra chipper. Today was the day for his revenge. Once outside, he carefully measured everything, so he was at least three feet into the city property. Once he set up his grill, pooler, and cellphone, it wasn’t too long before he heard that banshee scream.
Time To Bring Out The Grill… Again
Austin wasn’t all that surprised at how quickly Karen caught him. He wasn’t exactly trying to be invisible; his setup was only 10 feet from the community pool. As she was fast approaching, he hit the record button on his cell.
He said, “Why are you screaming? I’m not breaking any laws!”
Still screaming, she said, “No grilling! I’m just getting sick of you and your attitude, mister. I’m going to get you arrested and kicked out of here if it’s the last thing I do.”
He said, “Ma’am — “
She snapped, “Don’t ma’am me, get your stuff and leave!” Then she reached over for his cooler.
Now, using his military voice, he said, “If you lay a finger on my property, I will remove the offending body part with force, if necessary.”
Just like in the military, that scared her off. But of course, she always returned. About 20 minutes later, Austin saw two cop cars pull up. As soon as they got out of their cars, they were quickly approached by Mr. Donald.
When they got closer to Austin, he overheard Donald saying, “Yes, this is the same guy. I already told him once before he can’t grill on the HOA grounds.”
One officer stopped about 10 feet from Austin, staying with Donald, while the other officer kept walking toward Austin.
With a huge smirk across his face, Austin asked, “What seems to be the issue, officer?”
He said, “You’re in violation of the HOA’s bylaws. Apparently, you’ve been warned once already, so I’m going to write you a ticket for disturbing the peace and for threatening the HOA when they tried enforcing their rules. Another ticket for an illegal open flame, and a ticket for illegal storage of flammable substances. Now if you don’t pack up now, you will be arrested.”
Austin’s response? An even bigger smirk on his face. His revenge plan was intact.
Once the officer finished, Austin pulled out and handed him his city permit to grill. The officer took it and walked back to the other officer and Donald. After a couple of minutes, the one officer returned.
He said, “You can’t get a permit from the city to grill on private property.”
So Austin showed him the coordinates of the HOA property and his current location on Google Maps. Clearly, it showed, he was not on HOA’s property. And if you didn’t believe him, he had documents after documents of it all, proving his point. After four minutes of looking through the documents and hearing Austin out, the officer held up his hand, implying for Austin to stop.
He asked, “How long have you planned this all out?”
Still smirking, Austin replied, “About a week.”
The officer gave him a look of disbelief. Then he asked, “Well, did you threaten Karen?”
Austin pointed to his cell phone, which was prompted up and still recording. He said, “You tell me.”
The officer reviewed the footage and said, “Nothing seems out of pocket here. You are free to carry on.”
Austin asked, “Well can I file a complaint on HOA harassment?”
He replied, “Yes, but you will need to go to the city clerk’s office to do that. Now, I can document the harassment and file the report for you.”
According to their state law, it was against the law to be harassed by the HOA. HOA members could get jail time up to a few months, fines as high as 5K, and immediate removal from the board. Unlike HOA Karen and her trusty sidekick, Donald, Austin didn’t want to go as far as get them locked up, but just wanted to be left alone. So, he decided to settle with both of them being removed from the board, instead of going through with filing the complaint.
No more harassing him over his service dog or his propane grill, now that Karen was no longer an HOA member. And every time he saw her outside, he made sure to shove it in her face by waving to her every time he grilled or showing off Max’s leash.
Oh, how her behavior backfired on her!