Do you live in a housing community? Do you have a homeowners association? Are there rules and regulations regarding what you can and cannot do with your property? I happen to live in one of these communities. First of all, when we moved in we were young and, well, dumb. Had we had a clue as to what we were in for, we might have thought twice about the entire thing. Welcome to the neighborhood from hell, run by the homeowners association from hell!
This song is what I hear when someone says “HOA”
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It all starts somewhere
HOA’s(homeowner associations) started in the 1970s somewhere near Atlanta Georgia. The thought was there were too many homes popping up for the government to manage properly. They couldn’t afford the park areas for all the new construction, so they encouraged local developments to govern themselves and in return, they would be allowed to build closer together. Sounds good so far, right?
In order to maintain the HOA office, they needed dues from members. Usually paid on an annual basis, the prices were near the $200 range. And, in exchange for amenities like a pool or community park, they would impose rules and guidelines for all homes in the community.
Rules were meant to be broken
Some rules are pretty reasonable, like no “hulk” cars or trucks. (A hulk car or truck is something that is in poor condition, either nonrunning or in progress of being fixed.) Painting the houses from only the pre-approved list of colors. Other rules are downright stupid.
Let me tell you some of the things my hoa has tried to impose on our family and why we are never again joining an association.
We moved here in 2006 and we loved everything about our neighborhood. We have access to wild land and forest. There are hiking trails close by and we even have a private lake and park. It is a quiet community with nicely spaced houses. We thought we had found the American dream.
Flash forward to a year down the road. We hate it. We had been living in our home for about 6 months before the first problem arose. My hubby is an avid outdoors guy. His favorite activity during the not frozen months is 4wheeling in the mud. He even has a monster truck so we can go more places. Well, my HOA hates it. In case you are wondering, it is currently both street legal and licensed. But because he only drives it a few months out of the year, he legally can not have it. They consider it to be a hulk truck. You tell me, does this thing look like it is considered hulk? Yes, but only in size.
When we started having kids, we started to see other problems arise. As it turns out, having kids is totally allowed. Having kids who are kids and play outside with toys? Not ok. While I do admit that my kids are messy (really what kid isn’t?) my children’s toys were the center of the newest fines. I think at one point the highest fine we had to pay was somewhere near $5,000.
We also have dogs. At the time, our dogs were outside dogs. (I know, that’s horrible right?) Did you know that dogs bark? Especially when a family of raccoons is stealing the food you just fed them? Well, barking dogs seems to be an issue with the association.
Some people’s kids, geez!
I have heard horror stories. Things so crazy, I often wonder if they are legitimate. No blue tarps? No hot tubs? You must water your lawn, even in the months of drought? Yes, those are nuts. But I found even crazier rules while researching this topic.
I found a site called bankrate.com, you can read the stories here but I would love to highlight some of the crazier things they have found.
A man from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., lost his home because he planted too many roses on his four-acre site. The board fined him and watched monthly as the fines mounted.
A family that cares for five foster children in Port Richey, Fla., was threatened with eviction from their residential development. The association considered having foster kids a business because the state paid $2,028 a month to care for the children.
Reddit.com for the win!
Thus far, my favorite has to be all the stories on Reddit. They are funny and sometimes sad. There is a story about a child’s trampoline being taken away. And of a parking nazi (she was a self proclaimed as this, I would never call anyone a nazi anything, ever.)
One writer even said they knew of a Christmas decoration inspector. Really?
You gotta ask the RIGHT questions, baby!
The point is, if you are thinking about moving to a home that has an established Homeowners Association, you need to do your homework. You need to ask the questions before you move in. questions like;
What are your fence height policies?
Can I paint my house?
In the event of a drought, do I have to maintain my lawn color with watering? If so, will you be paying for my water bill?
Who’s duty is it to maintain the roads and streets in our community?
Is there any fine print that I have not read but need to?
WHAT IS IN IT FOR MY FAMILY??
That the last one is the most important question you need to ask. Many of these associations have member benefits, such as a private lake, or yard maintenance. If you are not going to receive any benefits why on earth would you join something that costs you money each year?
Can you top these stories with your own?
I am sure that not every homeowner who is part of a local Homeowners association hates it. It does have its benefits to being a member.Hate having to make choices and would never consider breaking the rules, Homeowners Associations might just be for you.
I am a rule breaker as it turns out. And, I guess I have a tiny aversion to authority and being told what to do. Huh. Who knew?
Do you have a crazy HOA story? Tweet it to me @ohshesahotmess with #mycrazyHOA
Until next time…
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