Time To Renovate
Moving into a new home as newlyweds can be fun and exciting. It’s a new chapter and potentially the start of an amazing future. But what happens if you get thrown a slight curveball in the midst of becoming new homeowners?
A couple recently got married and decided to move into a house together shortly after. They will be referred to as ‘Mark’ and ‘Amy’. Mark’s grandfather passed away so they had a good amount of inheritance money to start a life together. Amy’s father owns a real estate company that buys foreclosed houses and fixes them up. He knew of the perfect home for Mark and Amy and they both agreed to pay him to have it fixed up for them to live in. An important part to mention is the renovations took about 90 days to complete. Everything seemed fine and all until the HOA leader decides to pester them constantly. Who will prevail?
It was finally time for Mark and Amy to move into their new house. They spent the first two weeks getting settled in. At the second week mark, they received a knock on their door. Mark and Amy answered the door and it was the Homeowner’s Association Leader, who will be referred to as ‘Kevin’. Kevin asked the two of them for their landlord’s contact information. Mark and Amy were confused by this question because they owned the house and were not renting. Then Kevin asked if he could speak with their parents. What? Did he think they were teenagers and this was their parent’s home? Mark told Kevin again he and Amy are the owners of the house and anything needed to be discussed can and should be discussed with them.
Kevin explained how there was an HOA fee for the neighborhood and they would need to sign the HOA rules agreement contract and pay the 90 bucks pro-rated for the dues. Kevin said they had 30 days to pay the dues, but the contract with all of the rules needed to be signed right then and there. Instant red flag. There had to be something in the rules Kevin did not want Mark or Amy to read.
Mark told Kevin he wanted to read and review them before signing (rightfully so), but Kevin was insisting on them signing the papers right then again. Mark refused to do it without reading it first, and finally, Kevin gave in. Well, at least a little bit. He agreed to give them seven days to sign the rules agreement but with stipulations. Kevin said they have the legal power to fine them both if they do not sign the copies in time.
Mark and Amy talked to her parents about the HOA drama. They both agreed 30 bucks a month was not horrible for fees considering they had a nice playground. There were some rules they did not agree with because they were over the top, but they really did not have a choice at the time. But, when one problem is resolved, a new one surfaces.
Everything was fine until a month after they signed the agreement. Mark and Amy threw a housewarming party and invited six of their friends over. They had a nice deck outside perfect for entertaining, so they hosted everyone out there and had a nice fire with a fire ring out there.
They were all enjoying their evening at the party when all of a sudden, they heard intense pounding on their front door. Mark went to go investigate and saw a familiar face. Kevin has made a return. Mark saw Kevin and his car with a little yellow light on top.
Mark asked Kevin, “How can I help you?”
Kevin replied sternly, “You are in violation of the HOA rules by throwing a party outside of the approved hours and you need to take this party inside or send everyone home.
The curfew was 10 p.m according to the rules and Kevin showed up about five minutes after 10. He was on it. Mark brought everyone inside and continued the party.
The very next day, Mark and Amy received a letter from the HOA saying they had an official warning of violating HOA rules by throwing a “wild bonfire”. Yeah, Kevin classified the small party as a wild bonfire. But the “wild bonfire” was a safety hazard because people had been drinking. Mark was not even drinking, but whatever. Mark and Amy brushed it all off and figured it was no big deal. Big mistake.
Fast forward to six or nine months in the future, they were hosting a group event at their house for their local community center. They were all playing football in the street. They lived on a connecting street with basically no traffic because there were only two houses on it, so they were playing in a safe space even though it was in the street. Everyone was having a good time until the game got broken up. Kevin has made an appearance yet again with his little yellow siren accompanied by police siren sounds.
Kevin told them they needed to stop playing football because it was a safety hazard and someone could get run over. Keep in mind they lived on a small road with hardly any traffic, so it really was not much of a concern or issue.
Mark was absolutely fed up with Kevin and his antics. He tried telling him he was the first car to even drive over there and they were playing football for at least an hour. Kevin insisted they were also blocking emergency vehicles from being able to get to houses in the area. One would think with a decently sized group of people, someone ought to hear the blaring sirens of an ambulance and have everyone get out of the way. Not Kevin, though. Mark gave in and brought everyone inside.
The next day, Mark and Amy received another letter from the HOA. This time it was a 60-buck fine; the maximum allowed fine for a first offense. Mark decided he wanted to protest the fine, but it was due in 30 days. The next chance to protest the fines at an HOA meeting was 35 days from then.
Mark did not pay and requested to wait until the hearing by writing a letter back.
The letter said, “I will meet with the HOA Leader, the HOA Secretary (Leader’s wife), Vice Leader (Leader’s neighbor), and Treasurer (Vice Leader’s wife).”
They overruled the protest basically immediately and they charged Mark a 30-buck late fee for not “paying on time” when he notified them all about the situation.
A couple of months later, Mark and Amy became parents. Mark’s friend wanted to call and congratulate him on the news. Mark wanted to take the call outside so he did not wake up the newborn, so he went outside and sat in his car. It was quite chilly out, so he started his car and sat in there to take the call.
He sat in there for about 30 minutes. All of a sudden, Kevin made an appearance again. Wow, the dedication. He pulled up with his little yellow siren on blaring the police siren sound yet again. Mark has absolutely had enough. He got out of the car and rudely told Kevin to turn his siren off because his newborn is sleeping inside.
Kevin told Mark he looked “suspicious” sitting in his car while it was running outside of his house. Mark tried to explain the situation, but Kevin told him he needed to go inside.
Kevin also told mark, “Your history of being a troublemaker will not grant you any leniency.”
Mark got out of the car and just sat on the hood. Kevin sat there for another 15 minutes telling Mark he needed to go inside. After a while, Kevin left and circled the block while Mark was still outside. Eventually, Mark went inside because it was chilly.
The next day, Mark received a hand-delivered letter from Kevin and the Vice Leader. He asked Mark to step outside to talk about the incident from the night prior. Mark read the letter and saw two 180 buck fines which were the maximum amounts. One of them was for violating curfew, and the other was for “disobeying the night watchman”. Mark finally reached his breaking point and decided it was time to get revenge on Kevin and his other HOA friends.
It was time for revenge. Mark started looking at HOA laws and regulations regarding fines and how he could potentially protest them. He felt it was a complete abuse of power and wanted to do something about it. Then he found a law which said a person must be notified of an HOA at least 10 days prior to closing on a house and must be served within 45 days of purchase or they are not subject to being forced to participate in an HOA. He remembered no one served them until after they moved into the house which was close to 90 days after they closed on the house. Mark asked the realtor to see if they could find any information regarding this and they had no luck at first.
But then the realtor called back two days later. She told Mark their neighborhood does not even have an HOA registered with the city or county, which is required. Mark ended up calling the county office in charge of registering and gave them their neighborhood name. She told him their neighborhood is registered in another city and not in the city they are currently in and if they wanted to start an HOA, they would need to follow certain steps to do so.
For clarity, Mark and Amy’s neighborhood was originally all in one city, but the city lines changed and the neighborhood split in half. The other neighborhood kept the HOA registered, but ours was not in place. Kevin did not want to jump through all of the hoops to register properly.
Mark wanted to march down to Kevin’s house and confront him, but ultimately decided it would be better to talk to other people around the neighborhood about the situation. He told a neighbor who also was not Kevin’s biggest fan, and he was furious about it. They talked to more people and got a group of around 10 people to go to the next HOA meeting to voice their concerns.
Mark asked if he could be the speaker for the group and everyone agreed to let him. Well, almost everyone. Kevin tried to prevent Mark from speaking because he had overdue fines. His current bill of fines was around 540 bucks.
Mark explained how he contacted an attorney who drafted up a lawsuit because the HOA leader was impersonating a registered HOA in order to collect money. He explained how the actions were considered fraud, and of course, Kevin dismissed Mark immediately because he “didn’t know what he was talking about” and had enough of his antics. Ironic coming from Kevin. Everyone grew tired of his antics. The staff members left immediately, but the neighborhood group Mark gathered stayed, and talked.
A month later, the HOA was formally served by Mark and Amy as well as 20 other homeowners in their neighborhood. They sued them for all of the fines and HOAs they paid over the years. It ended up being around 50 thousand bucks. Kevin and his VP got their attorney to try to legitimize the HOA, but 90 percent of the homeowners needed to sign for it to be legit. They only got three signatures and two of them were themselves.
After they failed with that attempt, they tried to settle by agreeing to abolish the HOA and showed how they have not gained anything financially from collecting the money because it went to upkeep and other things. Everyone took a vote and voted no overwhelmingly. Mark voted to accept it, though.
About a week later, one of the other families called and mentioned something about the park maintenance and snow removal. This is important to note because Kevin was paying the maintenance guy, who was the VP’s son far too much when compared to the typical compensation. This certainly helped their case.
Eventually, this case went to court and the judge took a look at everything. The judge said Kevin and the company need to pay 21,000 bucks, which worked out to 1000 bucks per homeowner, plus attorney and court fees. This brought the total to about 23,000 bucks in damages. The city’s governing body fined them as well, so it is safe to say they owed quite a bit of money. Mark and Amy ended up selling the house the following summer, but other people told them Kevin and his VP sold their houses and moved away because nobody liked them anyway.
I knew HOAs were annoying. I knew they contained fineable, silly rules, but this story shocked me. The tiny things Mark got in trouble for were so silly. It was extremely shocking when they said there technically was not even an HOA for their neighborhood. I’m glad Mark and the other neighbors decided to take this to court and get Kevin in trouble for fraud as he deserved.