Homeowner Association Nightmares: People Are Sharing The Most Infuriating Encounters They’ve Had With HOAs (35 New Pics)
When moving into a new neighborhood, there are many factors to consider. How walkable is the area? How long will your commute to work be? Are there decent schools nearby? And perhaps, if you live in the United States, is there a homeowners association? A homeowners association (or HOA) is an organization that creates and enforces rules for a neighborhood or subdivision. When moving into an area with an HOA, residents automatically become members and are responsible for paying fees and abiding by the rules (or they'll be subjected to fines). In theory, an HOA just ensures the neighborhood is clean and takes care of shared amenities, such as community pools or fitness centers. In reality, however, many residents become incredibly frustrated with their power-hungry HOAs.
HOAs can implement rules about anything from the length of homeowners' grass to what days they're allowed to display holiday decorations. And when rules are broken, fines are swiftly posted on front doors, often accompanied by passive aggressive emails. We've compiled some of the most egregious HOA stories people have shared on r/AskReddit, and they'll make you want to never live in a residential neighborhood.
After you're fired up from reading these stories, be sure to check out Bored Panda's last publication on this same topic.
My old house's backyard bordered an HOA community. Our house was built 30 years before the community was built so we weren't part of it. We used to get notices about violations and fines if we didn't correct them. Never did correct them . They finally sent legal papers to repossess our house. Went to court with a tax map that showed our property NOT part of the HOA community. Judge dismissed their suit against us and found them guilty of harassment. We didn't get awarded much, but I made sure to break every rule of theirs I could untill we moved
Now, I don't mean to vilify all HOAs. Some homeowners really do appreciate their presence. Access to amenities and increased community engagement are two possible perks of an HOA. Someone has to ensure that the neighborhood pool and playgrounds are up to safety standards, and it can be a lot of fun to have a community-wide barbeque with fireworks on the 4th of July.
Some residents also credit their HOA for maintaining their home's property value. That freshly manicured lawn speckled with bright flowers that greets you when you enter the neighborhood is the responsibility of the HOA. And if a calm, quiet neighborhood is important to you, rest assured that an HOA will shut down any rowdy parties. If you don't mind abiding by the rules and have no plans to paint your house hot pink any time soon, an HOA might be a plus for you.
When my parents bought the house I grew up in during the early 90's, they got a letter in the mail saying that they hadn't paid their dues for the HOA. They took the letter into the office and asked what fees they were referring to.
The office lady was really rude and pulled out a piece of paper saying that my parents had signed a contract and they were legally obligated to pay their monthly dues and follow the rules blah blah Karen Karen blah.
Well, when my parents looked at the sheet they supposedly signed, it wasn't their signatures. Their names, not their signatures. Someone at the HOA had forged the paperwork, presumably bc they'd forgotten to get it signed. Needless to say, the contract was void and my parents refused to sign a new one. They were one of about 5 houses that they'd done this to in the neighborhood, one of which was our nextdoor neighbors. About 3 houses to this day still don't have signed contracts including theirs, and they get to do whatever the hell they want with their house, to the immense frustration of the HOA.
The problem arises when HOAs extend their guidelines past the simple "mow your lawn, don't leave your trash bins out too long and don't make too much noise". It seems that some derive pleasure from creating restrictions and imposing them on residents who just want to live in a peaceful neighborhood. As many Reddit users have shared, HOAs can set extremely strict guidelines on parking, approved house colors, landscaping and more. There is a line between wanting to live in an aesthetically pleasing area and policing your neighbors unnecessarily. Unfortunately, many HOA presidents stomped right past that line on their way to slap a fine on your front door.
My parents HOA is stupid strict. Can't have any holiday decorations up past the first week of Jan. My mom pulled a Clark Griswold and broke her ankle falling off a ladder putting up decorations before the holidays so a wreath was left on the front door longer than allowed. They got a letter with a picture and a threat of fine.
A few summers later they and some of their neighbors decided to stick it to the man. They got a flock of plastic lawn flamingos and planted them in one of their yards. Whenever the HOA would send a letter the flock migrated to another yard. Kept it up for about a month and a half.
I’m being charged $400 because of a violation for a bush overhanging my walkway.
I don’t have a walkway. Or a bush. The picture isn’t even my house. They won’t back down.
So how prevalent are HOAs? As of 2021, there were over 350,000 in the United States, regulating about 58% of homeowners. They vary greatly by state, however. Some states, such as Mississippi, have virtually no HOA presence. Meanwhile, in Florida about 45% of the population lives in HOA communities. Florida is even home to the nation's largest HOA, Poinciana Villages, which is located in Central Florida and contains 20,000 homes.
The first month in our townhouse, we got a notice that we had not mowed our lawn and were in danger of being fined. We didn't have a lawn. The entire yard was covered in topsoil, seed, and straw. The "lawn" turned out to be a single weed that was growing up in the shade of a bay window.
I didn't pull it. I tied it to a stake and told them it was our garden.
Everyone in my neighborhood was fined for having “dirty roofs.” Seriously, they claimed that everyones roofs were dirty and made the neighborhood look bad. It’s not like they were covered in mold or anything, hell idk how a roof is even dirty but 268 of the 284 houses in my neighborhood were fined $75 for it. We found out later that the HOA president started a power washing business and likely just wanted to drum up some business. He was impeached because of it and none of us even paid the fines
Aside from being a nuisance to many homeowners, HOAs have a quite controversial past as well. They've been around since the mid-19th century but have spread rapidly since the 1960's. At that time, HOAs were a tool for white Americans to keep neighborhoods segregated. Jonathan Rothwell, author of "A Republic of Equals", explained a bit of the racist history of HOAs in an interview with Insider. "There is plenty of evidence from historic records and housing policy discussions that anti-Black racism motivated some of the strategies used by homeowner associations, such as deed restrictions and covenants that explicitly discriminated against Black people by compelling other owners to avoid selling to them."
Moved to Florida where every neighborhood is an HOA. Upon moving in I felt like I had joined a sorority or fraternity and I had to endure the hazing from the HOA. The final straw was when they sent me a letter that my white mailbox was dirty. So I decided to walk down one street and took pics of mailboxes with no doors and mailboxes that were covered in mildew and I emailed them all to the HOA. I told them to not send me any more notices until these mailboxes were up to code. I haven’t received another notice in a year. I guess I passed my initiation...
Condo association technically, but you can't put plastic skeletons out on your balcony unless it's October.
I may be the reason that this rule exists.
House in the neighborhood caught fire. Luckily everyone was okay (they had small children), but the fire burnt a hole in the side of the house.
While waiting for it to be repaired, the family covered the hole with a blue tarp to prevent rain from getting in and causing more damage.
HOA fined them because the tarp was an "eyesore."
Although this may sound like an issue of the past, it's no secret that racial injustice can still be found in the United States. In fact, in 2019 a woman in Florida found a "Caucasian-only" restriction in one neighborhood's HOA bylaws. It was no longer being enforced, but it is upsetting to know that those documents had not been updated to remove prejudiced restrictions. Even today, HOA neighborhoods tend to be more affluent and less racially diverse than non-HOA areas.
I'm the Treasurer of our HOA. We pay $250 a year to cover road maintenance. We make sure that is all we worry about. We get Karens at meetings all the time complaining. We politely tell them we maintin the road and that is it. We have 18 laid back neighbors and 2-3 Karens.
They told us we couldn't use hoses in our back yard. HAHAHAHAHAHAgof*ckuourselves
Rothwell went on to say that "HOAs perpetuate racial and economic segregation by blocking fair participation in housing markets, thus denying wealth-generating opportunities and upward mobility for many Black people and lower-income families". A recent study found that homes in HOA neighborhoods sell for about 4% more than similar homes without HOAs. This may sound insignificant, but homeowners then also have to budget for HOA fees, which are typically due monthly. The amount varies by location but can be up to $571 per month, in New York for example. And there is always a chance they'll rise the next year.
My parents live in an HOA nneighborhood. It didn't have a ton of rules or restrictions so they moved in. One of their main rules is you can't have a camper visible from the street.
In the county they live in you can't have a camper parked in front of the house (basically the front door is considered the front of the house). They knew this going into the house so first month they had poured a drive way addition that ran to the side of their house and into the back yard. Their house is at the end of the street so you can only see this camper I'd you walk into their side yard.
One HOA sent my dad a pic that someone took standing in his yard. He copied the county's trespassing laws and gun defense laws to a letter and forward it to the HOA.
He hasn't heard from them since then
My HOA had a coup where half the board resigned on the spot, same day, and the three board members that were left handed management of our neighborhood over to some mega HOA corporation based out of LA. Before the handoff was complete, the chairman of the board fired everyone that worked for the HOA, including our incredibly talented accountant who due to his experience kept our finances so tip top that we had a surplus of money and have never had our monthly dues raised in almost 15 years.
When we, the residents, demanded an explanation, the chairman refused by quoting an article from our HOA charter which gives the board the explicit right to manage the community however they see fit and without needed approval from the residents. He basically told us "I don't owe any of you an explanation, so suck it."
Now we are trying to overturn his decision to essentially give our neighborhood over to some sh*tty HOA management group that treats its residents horribly like a sh*tty landlord would a tenant. Oh, and the management group that we were given to is run by a man who's only formal education is a degree in Opera. And the accountant who has been assigned to manage my neighborhoods finances, does not have a degree in finance or business. She has a degree in ballet.
It is my opinion that our board was bribed into selling us to that management firm. Our community hired a lawyer and we are in the process of reversing what our board has done. If successful, we are going to rehire everyone they terminated and change the bylaws to prevent anyone from ever being able to do this again.
So yeah... Thats my worst story and it's still going on right now.
I got a HOA violation for my neighbor's vines growing into my yard.
When residents are dissatisfied with their HOAs, there are several ways they can attempt to resolve the issue. Ursula Burgess, an attorney with 18 years of community association legal work, warns that completely dissolving an HOA is a lengthy and expensive process. It's usually best to start small and attempt reform first. Burgess recommends residents become active members of their HOA to stay informed and have a platform to voice their concerns. Often, a problematic HOA can be fixed by removing a board member or two. “The good news is that there is generally a mechanism that allows for members to vote out board members,” says Burgess.
They wanted me to switch the color of the lightbulbs I used outside.
Nah, I don't need someone who is that picky to have ANY power over my property.
At that point, it's no better than renting.
My grandparents lived in a old folks community with a zealous hoa. My grandmother had to go to the hospital, cause of her many health problems. My grand father would go with her. This happened once when I was visiting. There was a knock on the door at about 10am. Two elderly women with clipboards immediately jump into a speech about how the trash cans hadn't be brought in. I explained the situation. One of them said she was in the hospital the previous week but still managed to bring in her trash can and handed me what looked like a ticket for $50. F*ck. That. Sh*t.
I was just learning to drive and parked my car too far away from the curb. Parents and neighbors didn't get along so neighbors measured the distance from the wheels to the curb and parents got fined.
Now I live in the country with pretty much no rules. We have goats and emus in our front yard.
Burgess also encourages passionate members of HOA communities to join their own boards and change the system from the inside. After all, HOAs “really are meant to be there for good reasons,” she says. “If they’re not operating properly, then we’ve just got to go in and fix them.”
Upscale beach neighborhood, Repeatedly refused my solar panel application, sighted the location of them as being an eye sore (top of the back side of the house....not visible from street) and fought me at four different meetings, delaying my installation, ultimately cited the state law and they immediately backed down and amended their covenants- ps, a clothes line is a "solar collection device" and they cannot deny you use of that either, so if you want to play dirty- hang a bunch of beach towels in your yard!
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 the assh*le customers. My sliding door starts jiggling. I grab a gun, and throw open the blinds. Outside, on my porch is a f*cking 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. "town" 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 a 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 a "everyone go home" agreement. HOA sends me a strongly worded letter.
When I was a kid my parents had a house in a nice cul-de-sac, but it was a working class neighborhood. The transmission in my truck took a doo doo so I replaced it in our driveway.
A few days later we got a letter citing a clause stating all improvements done on property must be done by a licensed contractor. It was a far reach but they stood by it as there was nothing in the CC&Rs against working on personal vehicles.
My dad made me pay him back for the fine but for awhile afterwards I’d go put some oil or coolant under the HOA presidents cars and hope he wasting money chasing a nonexistent problem.
Even without an HOA in effect, nosy neighbors still find ways to monitor one another. Websites and apps such as "Nextdoor" have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they help neighbors stay informed about their area. Nextdoor is filled with posts of neighbors offering fruit from their gardens, alerting others of garage sales and asking for recommendations of where to find the best ramen nearby. At the same time, Nextdoor sometimes houses warnings about "suspicious individuals" spotted. Often these are accompanied by a grainy screenshot of security camera footage featuring an unsuspecting passerby. Rarely would there be any actual cause for suspicion. It's also not hard to find posts on Nextdoor complaining about the aesthetics of someone's home or demanding that everyone in the area mow their lawns.
My dad was telling me a story about their HOA this week. A homeowner in their neighborhood passed away, and hadn't yet paid their HOA dues for the month. AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE, the HOA president approached the mourning family and asked what their plans were for paying the back dues, and for paying any dues until the house was sold. Simply amazing.
Can’t be parked in the same reserved parking space for more than 72 hours. Kinda F’ed up they enforce that during a pandemic.
Can’t park your vehicle with the front or rear bumper sticking over the curb.
Pick up trucks have to have a bed covering.
No kids toys, including bikes and scooters can be left outside when not being used.... got a fine for that one when my daughter took a break to eat lunch.
Can’t have interior lights on past 10pm without have curtains closed.
Trash has to be put out behind your car after 9pm the night before it’s picked up. It doesn’t get picked up until around 7am. No fun when you have to leave before 7. No guidance on where to put it if you don’t have a car or have to leave before 7. When asked, they tell me to just take it to the dump myself if I can’t follow the rules.
My daughter was a lifeguard at the pool in our community and they weren’t allowed to give out certain equipment (it was for swimming lessons). One day the HOA president asks for equipment and my daughter says no as she was instructed. The HOA president actually says “Do you know who I am?” Then he proceeded to call her boss.
Nextdoor has become so popular for neighborhood gossip that Cathy Adams wrote an article for The Independent discussing how the app satiates our "desire to be nosy". She mentioned that one of the most exciting posts she had seen was a photo of "a dumped, skeletal-looking snake on the local common surrounded by blue bin bags like some kind of pagan ritual". That certainly caused some stir in the chat. Luckily for her, Cathy's experience on the app has been mostly positive. But every now and then, a post pops up from an individual proving they would make a well-hated HOA president.
Not necessarily a rule, but my HOA has been having a never ending battle with pigeons since I bought my condo 5 years ago. Their latest plan was to leave trays of poison seeds all over the complex (on the ground, no less). This resulted in a pigeon corpses appearing all over the complex with no noticeable decrease in the amount of pigeons hanging around. After a huge storm blew the trays over, it also resulted in everyone being afraid to walk their dogs for fear of ingesting poison. A+ work HOA
Not my HOA, but when we were condo-hunting we looked at one community that had a changelog for their house rules. They'd been amended from no pets to allowing one cat per unit, and then two weeks later back to no pets. What did that cat do?
Window washers hired by homeowners must be chosen from an approved list of window-cleaning businesses by the HOA.
If you ever own a home, I hope that you have the freedom to paint a mural on your garage door and plant as many cactuses in your front yard as your heart desires. But if you do end up in a neighborhood with a strict HOA, there better at least be a nice pool and some tennis courts to make the fees worth it. Don't forget to check out our previous piece featuring awful HOAs, and let us know in the comments if you have ever experienced restrictions like these!
My parents moved into an HOA a few years ago. I lived with them temporarily. One day, someone from the HOA went around to every house with a color palette of shades of white that were acceptable for mailboxes to be painted in. If the white paint on a mailbox didn't exactly match one of the shades of white on their color palette, the mailbox had to be repainted, at the expense of the homeowner. My parents had to repaint their white mailbox so its shade of white was acceptable.
They charged me $500 for leaving a glass cup on the bbq.
Damn I was pissed. My blood boils just thinking about it. I have so many other horrible stories like my wall was flooded inside and they refused to fix it even though it was a HOA problem. I pay $617 monthly. F bastards
I have hedges in the front yard. There's dirt under them because you know, plants grow from dirt. HOA comes by and says we absolutely can't have any exposed dirt, including under the shrubs. I didn't even know what I was supposed to do about that?? I just poured mulch over the dirt under the shrubs. They haven't said anything so I think that was the right thing to do. It definitely looks sh*ttier than just the plain dirt.
Wildest thing is that it was just the dirt under the shrubs for a literal decade
Condo where I used to live forbade pickup trucks. In Georgia.
We are only allowed to have chained link fences. No wooden or any other fencing. I’m sorry, but I want some privacy in my back yard. Our houses are so close together I can see everything the neighbors around me are doing.
The fences on your property must all be the same color, and match the adjoining fences of the neighbors property. The community was planned single-family houses with fences between houses. Looking from the street it went House-fence-house-fence-house-.... I was in the middle of the row and had a shared fence with both neighbors, that each each had their own color. I got a violation notice the same week I moved it.
If I painted my fences to match each other, at least one of my neighbors wouldn't have matched theirs on the other side. This would have sent a cascade of violations down the street.
We have a landscaping committee. If you want to plant flowers, they must be approved by the committee before you plant them.
They sued me for thousands of dollars in late fees. The day after Christmas. I was told my dues date was the 15th when I bought the house. Paid the 13th for a year or more. It was actually the 1st of the month. Turns out the dipsh*t admin at the management co. input my previous address, an apartment, when setting up my account, so I never saw a late notice. Explained the situation, they said "No exceptions". I couldn't afford a lawyer to fight it.
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