These Homeowners Associations Ruined Lives

Irit Chemel-Norton

Sometimes, when people come together to do good, the results can still end up being bad. Like, really bad. Homeowners’ associations, or HOAs, are a prime example of this. An HOA is supposed to look after the best interests of its homeowners, but sometimes, they can be an absolute nightmare to deal with, dragging people down with biased bylaws and petty problems. Read on for some blood-boiling HOA horror stories where people’s lives were ruined forever.

1. Not Amped For The Ramp

I usually like living in HOAs and the ones I’ve lived in have been decent, but my parents’ HOA, on the other hand, is insane. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer and began his chemo, he became too weak to walk.


My parents installed a ramp at the front door so he could get his wheelchair into the house. That’s when their neighbor, the HOA president, absolutely lost it.

She demanded doctor’s notes and appointment slips, and she even tried to prove to the neighborhood that my dad could walk and was lying. My dad was too weak to do anything and my mom is too passive to deal with that kind of confrontation, so I had to step in.


I threatened to lawyer up and sue her personally. She eventually backed down. My dad then passed in April of that year.

A week later, she came banging at our door saying she saw the funeral home come and pick my dad up and that we needed to take the ramp down“since he’s finally dead” (her exact words). At that point, I called law enforcement right in front of her to report her for stalking and harassment.


I moved in with my mom and now every time this woman sees me, she runs back into her house.


2. The Roles Of Men And Women

My parents still live in the United States. The HOA guy in their neighborhood is a little man with a big ego, so we’ll call him Jerkface.

Bit of a misogynist. When he sees something amiss in his precious street (like a campaign sign in someone’s yard, the horror) he waits until the husband leaves for work so he can yell at the wife.

Because obviously, all wives stay at home.

So my mom left early in the morning for work. Jerkface saw a car pull out of the garage and leave, so that must have been the man of the house.

He tiptoed up to the stairs with some defiant look on his face, only to be greeted by an unexpected surprise—my giant father, asking him what the heck he wanted. He turned around and went home.

Then later that week, he found a house that four students were renting and informed them that this was a neighborhood for “family units only”. He was rightfully laughed off the porch.


3. Playing The Game

When I was a kid, my mom moved to a townhouse complex that had a Strata Council, the equivalent of an HOA.

Because I’m a bit of a night owl, I liked to keep my windows blacked out so I could sleep in, so I tin foiled my bedroom windows which were recessed basement windows. You could not see these windows without being on our property.

My mom got a notice to remove the tinfoil because no window coverings were allowed unless they were white or beige. She passed this along to me. So I took the tinfoil down, put white paper over the windows, and then placed tinfoil behind that.

And to further improve things, I then added a layer of black construction paper. No light was getting through, and it was all white from the outside, which was allowed.

They then dropped off a note asking what time they could come by to inspect the room and make sure there was no tinfoil on the inside of the window.

My mom and I had a good laugh over this and ignored the letter. They sent a follow-up letter that was even more demanding than the first. We ignored that too. Eventually, they sent one threatening fine, but my mom was already a step ahead of them.

She sent a letter back claiming they had already inspected, and that they needed to figure themselves out.

And then she got an apology and no further hassling on this issue, because the Strata Council was full of busybodies who hated each other, and no one wanted to admit that they were out of the loop.


4. Petty Revenge

I love reading contracts and agreements, so when a friend of mine told me about his HOA troubles and not letting him keep his boat behind his house, I jumped on the opportunity. After reading, sourcing, and finding a few rulings, I learned that they had very little power to enforce what they couldn’t see from the road (which affects property value).

He took my documentation to the HOA and requested that they remove his fines.

They refused to say “the agreement says blah blah blah” and after a few months, he finally paid a real estate lawyer $2,000 to go talk circles around the HOA. They backed down, removed his fines, and allowed him to keep his boat. But I wasn’t finished.

Out of pure spite and with my design, we built a 40’ tall “temporary” structure, conforming to both the HOA agreement and building code, to fly a flag on a further 25’ pole. We took it down and put it back up every three months for a year.

You could see it from almost anywhere in the neighborhood…It was a real triumph and IT WAS HIDEOUS!!


5. On The Fence

I lived in an HOA with my parents for seven years down in Northern Texas.

We had a small tornado come through our backyard one night while I was at work, and it knocked down both the fence dividing the front yard from the backyard as well as the fence between us and our neighbors behind us.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

The HOA agreement included coverage for natural disasters, yet when my parents and our neighbors went to the HOA to get the fences fixed, the HOA kept denying them. They would soon regret ever thinking they could pull a fast one on us.

Three months later and after sending a threat of a lawsuit for breach of contract, they finally fixed the fence. I will NEVER live in an HOA because it’s too much hassle.

I don’t wanna have a bunch of entitled people tell me what my house can look like or fine me for not cutting my grass to a specific measurement or whatnot.


6. I Actually Outrank You

I work in emergency services.

I’ve had HOA board members try telling me we could idle our fire engine or park our ambulance “there” as if I’d know the rules. I’m usually professional, but the second time they tried to complain about the fire engine idling, I gave an epic response: “Go screw yourself.

I don’t care what your bylaws say. Article 300 of Michigan traffic code says I can park wherever the heck I want”.

We were there for a family with carbon monoxide inhalation and I truly didn’t care about anything else at that moment. We had crews up and down the road to treat and transport the entire family.


7. You Can’t Sit With Us!

I 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. It was fine for a while, but I eventually reached my breaking point. It was when they sent me a letter that my 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…


8. Color Corrections

My former HOA threatened to take me to court over the color of a light bulb inside of my condo.

They claimed that the color of a bulb inside my unit altered the exterior appearance of the building. I’d had Philips Hue lights for probably over a year without issue. Then, my neighbor left their Christmas lights up well past New Year and received a complaint about it.

The next thing I knew, someone complained about my Hue lights. I switched them to white.

I could have won in court, but it wasn’t worth angering a bunch of petty jerks who have nothing better to do than to sit on an HOA board.

Anyway, the association wanted to add a new amendment that allowed them to sue anyone over anything they deemed a “nuisance”. They brought in their lawyer for a question and answer session.

I asked if the color of my neighbors’ lights could be considered a nuisance, and he clarified that it had to be a bigger concern.

I followed up asking if we could claim that my neighbor had altered the exterior appearance of the building, he laughed and said no dismissively. At that point, all I could do was smile with glee. Their lawyer had already admitted their case was unwinnable, and he’d said earlier in the meeting a big part of his job was to keep the association from taking an unwinnable case to court.

So the lights were whatever color I wanted them to be from then on. I now live in a neighborhood without an HOA.


9. Express Yourself

We had a cookie-cutter house built. One of the color palettes we could choose from included an accent color for the door and shutters that was a dark purple.

My husband and I are a little kooky, so we selected it. At our final walkthrough, our door and shutters were brown. I told the general that it was wrong and showed him my contract.

He told us that since we were the only homeowners in the subdivision that selected that color, the HOA decided to not offer it anymore. We said fine, but we made sure to slap them with a reality check—that what they did put them in breach of contract and we wanted to be released. A few phone calls later, my door and shutters were purple and I was happy.

We purchased the house. At least once a year, we got a nasty letter from the HOA about our “unapproved door color,” and every time, I sent them a copy of my contract and their bylaws stating that the colors from the builder are allowed.


10. All The Horror All At Once

My condo fees are due to go up to $840 in January.

It went up to $100 every year since 2015. I bought it for $425 monthly. Also, I received noise complaints two to three times a week. Thin walls. The neighbor across the hall upstairs would be dropping weights, then my downstairs neighbor would call to complain that it was me.

I got fined $500 when I was deployed 7,000 miles away for NOISE.

I sent a video showing I was not home at the exact time the noise complaint came in. This happened at least 20 times in the few years I lived there.

My record was full of complaints of exact times I was either working at the hospital or deployed. Oddly, the noise complaints never came in when I was home. I also had carpet and got complaints about “ rolling noises”. It gets worse.

The plumbing was wrecked. The wall was next to my condo, so it flooded the inside several times. I got called at 3 am to hire a plumber to fix it. $700 later, the plumber billed the HOA and not me.

It was an HOA problem but these fools tried to blame me over and over again. They did this to me every six months for five years. Oddly, that thing kept flooding. They never figured out where it was coming from.

I got fined $250 for having a tiny glass bowl in the barbecue area, not even the pool. No warning. Nothing. I appealed the fine. They called me to sit in on a board meeting. I had just lost a patient earlier that day and I was trying to contact his family to pick up the body from the morgue, but there I was explaining and begging the HOA to not fine me $250 for a small bowl.

The number of complaints we had against the HOA was amazing. Completely misappropriating funds, misusing their power on the regular. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me, selling and getting the heck out of there. It was an absolute nightmare.

Worst decision of my life to live in that building and deal with that HOA.


11. He Played Around And Found Out

It was 6:30 am, and my cats were going nuts. I realized someone was 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 of threats. I live in the same HOA as a bunch of the jerk customers.

Anyway, that morning, my sliding door started jiggling. I grabbed a firearm and threw open the blinds.

Outside on my porch was an old man. I started screaming, made him get on his knees, and called law enforcement.

Lo and behold, he was an “inspector” from my HOA. He was there for an absolutely baffling reason–because a neighbor reported me cutting down a half-withered tree that was about to fall on my house. Local enforcement later showed up and they were actual officers, but they only worked for the HOA.

They were not happy with me.

But because I said the right words on the 9-1-1 call, the county sheriffs also showed up. They basically had an argument with local law enforcement about the fact that being an HOA inspector didn’t give him free rein to come onto my enclosed deck.

Also, since I didn’t physically attack the inspector, I didn’t commit a felony.

We spent all morning going back and forth, then finally, we basically agreed to an “everyone goes home” agreement. All the HOA did after that was send me a strongly worded letter.


12. Can I Help You?

Our neighbor was flooding our backyard and the HOA property from her drain by overwatering. The HOA sent us an extremely rude and unprofessional note telling us we can’t drain our pool onto their property. We don’t have a pool. We replied to their letter explaining that.

A couple of weeks later, I got out of the shower to see the HOA president and his wife with a ladder propped against our shared fence peering into our backyard.

That’s when I had enough.

I walked out dripping wet in my birthday suit and asked if I could help him with something. They backed off quickly. He passed on a few years later and his wife (who isn’t even officially on the HOA board, just a busy body) recently stopped by our garage to ask if we were watering and damaging their fence. She tried to introduce herself and I simply said “We’ve met before” while looking her straight in the eyes…


13. Eat Rocks

I was showing my six-year-old stepdaughter how to skip rocks in the pond.

An HOA board member screeched to a halt in his truck and yelled at her to stop doing that. I yelled back at him, saying I’ll buy more rocks for the community if it’s such a big deal, but his reasoning was that I was unsettling the structure of the pond.

Apparently to him, small, thin rocks mixed in with the large boulders were preventing erosion. He then backpedaled a bit and said teenagers from other communities were messing with the pond and he didn’t realize the situation.

He told us to just leave the big rocks alone. It upset my stepdaughter, who didn’t want to skip rocks after the brief encounter. But there was an upshot to all this.

I told a guy at work this story, who just happened to also be on the HOA board with the same man at a sister community across town.

The two got into a shouting match at a meeting over rock skipping. There were many other annoying incidents and I’ve moved since. Never again.


14. Ruffled Some Feathers

As a kid, my parents and I lived in an HOA neighborhood and had a lovely big backyard at the base of a big mountain.

It had a creek right behind it that ran past multiple houses next to us. Meanwhile, my mom had always wanted chickens. A neighbor two houses from us had chickens, geese, and a turtle. She decided she should get some, and my mom sent a request to the HOA.

Their response was baffling.

Apparently, we were “out of range” of the chicken allowance area because of how close to the mountains we were. They said cougars came near us often and that they didn’t “want any attacks”. You would think a cougar will see the house with the chickens and go, “WOW! Some delicious food!

Whoopsie, it’s in the HOA chicken okay zone, looks like I can’t eat them”.


15. Off To Work You Go

While living with my mother and siblings in Nevada, a huge storm hit the area and did a ton of damage.

During the night, we heard something close to the sound of a garage door slamming down or a huge crack of lightning. The following morning, we got up to let the dog out and found the huge tree in the raised portion of the backyard uprooted.

It took out our fence along the sidewalk, a small playset in the yard, and the back porch, and nearly wrecked the far-most right side of the house itself (we had a leaky ceiling over there for a while).

But here’s the most upsetting part—the HOA told us we needed to get the tree out, away and the damage fixed immediately due to it being an “eyesore”. Like we weren’t trying already.


16. Go Mail Yourselves

I had just moved into my house a few months prior when I got a letter threatening to be fined $200, all because my mailbox wasn’t black. I thought surely they had the wrong house because my mailbox was in fact black.

So I contacted them and they gave a run around arguing that it wasn’t. I told them to come to look and of course, they said it was on me to prove to them it was black.

So I snapped a photo and emailed it to them. I heard nothing back for well over a month, then I got another letter giving me a “courtesy” week extension before I was fined. I was livid at that point, so I contacted the HOA again asking for an explanation as to what exactly the problem was.

I was finally told that “neighbors” felt my mailbox was rather worn and needed to be painted or replaced. So basically, it wasn’t black enough for them. I painted it.

Now for the part that set me over the edge…after a few months or so, I learned that the HOA will replace a mailbox as it’s covered under our terms. So I called them asking why they threatened to fine me when they were the ones that should have to replace it if not to standard.

They stated it was because they had no open work orders for my mailbox and that it was my responsibility to notify them if it needed maintenance, not theirs…


17. I Want To Ride My Bicycle

My parents live in a neighborhood with several local physicians.

One has six kids, and the youngest has profound autism and is non-verbal. Well, he’s about five or six, and he loves riding his little tricycle in their driveway, which is pretty large. He would do it for hours.

His mom stayed home with him for the most part, and she and her husband became concerned that in a moment, he’d drive into the road if they happened to look away.

So, they got some orange construction netting that they would just put across the end of the driveway while he was out there, and would take it down when they went back inside.

I always thought that it was a good idea to keep him safe. Anyway, several of the families in the neighborhood were not pleased with this and said it was an “eyesore,” so a meeting was called.

The proceedings turned so, so ugly.

It turned into attacks on how they were taking care of their son, and how it made the neighborhood look “ignorant” to have that netting up. Needless to say, no one offered any other options, and this family was so irate that they packed up and moved within a month.

This was about four years ago, and that house still hasn’t sold. They live out in the country somewhere, and the last time I talked to the dad, the son is doing very well in his new home.

And he still rides his bike for hours on end.


18. Monkey In The Middle

The house my parents live in was grandfathered into the neighborhood, meaning it isn’t part of the HOA, but that didn’t stop them from writing us letters. One of them was about vines over our fence, so my stepdad wrote them the following epic response: “We received your letter about the vegetation growing over our fence.

While we do appreciate your concern about the beautification of our neighborhood we cannot comply with this request at this time.

The vegetation in question are actually assistance vines for our senior rhesus monkeys and have been left long due to their diminished ability to scale our fence during their nightly wanderings.

While they only have about three years of life expectancy left, we feel that they deserve the same respect as any family member and do everything we can to accommodate their remaining days.

As their mobility continues to decline we may be reaching out to you for approval for “slow monkey crossing” signs for our street and alley with an image of a monkey in a wheelchair. Maybe we can get six different signs with each of their sweet little faces on them.

They love to pose for pictures, especially in their little throwback baseball uniforms with blousy trousers and little souvenir bats.

Anyway, best of luck in your slow-rolling alley checking searches for minor aesthetic annoyances. Maybe you can convince the guy that painted his door to resemble the Texas flag to correct the red and white stripes so it will be presented properly.

Texas pride, y’all! The McVineys”.

Their response was something like “We’ll look into it”.


19. Insecurity

I don’t actually have an HOA, but some people in my neighborhood decided to form a community association. They have a FB group and meet regularly.

The group regularly posts pictures and videos of people they deem suspicious (a.k.a. not white). They chatter constantly about the comings and goings of people they suspect are substance users.

They are very into public safety and are constantly complaining that people aren’t turning on their porch lights. Around Thanksgiving, things started getting spicy—the leader started a contest on Facebook. Participants needed to post daily time-stamped photos of their neighbor’s houses to see who could get the most lights on. When I explained why this was counterintuitive to security, the leader laughed at me.


20. There’s Always A Catch

My dad moved into a new townhouse in the summer of 2013. It was a foreclosure property, as the previous tenants were kicked out for not paying their mortgage and for not paying their HOA dues.

They gave everyone in the HOA new patios and decks the summer prior. It was required, and you had to get a new deck and patio.

But there was a catch—the tenants had to pay for them in monthly installments in the next three years along with their HOA dues. As I said, the previous tenants had foreclosed on their home.

However, there was one rule placed when they got the decks, which was that you couldn’t move out without paying off your deck first. He was told by HOA that he would not have to pay off the deck because it was foreclosed and he was not responsible at all for paying it off.

Sweet, free deck! He signed off on that. He moved in, but then he started getting assessments from the HOA for the deck. But wait, he wasn’t supposed to be paying for the deck…He fought it with the board.

Even with the signed thing saying we didn’t have to pay for the deck, the board went against him. He ended up having to pay off the remaining balance. To this day, he refuses to speak about this topic.

It’s a trigger for him.


21. Pool Pressure

My father-in-law’s condo corporation has a shared pool. The old folks don’t like to share, so they have all kinds of silly rules, like no more than one guest per resident, resident-only times alternating every hour, etc. My father-in-law can’t even take his own two grandkids for a swim because he’d exceed the number of allowed guests. So many rules and the pool is usually empty.

And it doesn’t end there.

Because the residents were still breaking the rules, they passed a new rule that if any resident was caught breaking the pool rules, they would close the pool to everyone for a week and post the offender’s name and reason for the closure on the community bulletin board.


22. To Tree Or Not To Tree

They sent us a series of nasty notices to remove a rotten tree in our front yard.

The tree had lost all of its leaves and it was unsightly, apparently. But here’s the interesting part—they sent us this notice in November. You know, like, FALL. When perfectly healthy trees lose their leaves.

We pretended we didn’t understand which tree they were talking about until spring when the tree magically came back to life.


23. Your Comfort, Your Problem

When I was a kid, I lived in one of the two front rooms of the house, which were the hottest in the summer and the coldest in the winter.

My dad didn’t like to use the A/C so we all just had fans. One summer, it got so unbearably hot in my room that fans just weren’t cutting it and I was miserable.

My dad then put an A/C unit in my window and it was awesome.

But it was short-lived because the HOA told us to take it down, simply because it was an “eyesore”. My parents told them it was for their child but they didn’t care, so my parents had to take it down.

The kicker? Just down the street, a guy who had the exact same model house as us had an A/C unit installed in the same exact window like the one we had it in, and the HOA never said a word to him.


24. You’re Not The Boss Of Me

My dad retired and decided that he really wanted to buy a camper and travel. My mom was all about it, and both of them were very excited. So my dad ran off and traded his F-150 truck for an F-250 with a huge diesel V8.

He also bought a gooseneck camper and waited for spring. The camper was in the backyard, the truck in the garage, so no big deal…or so we thought. Not long after, he got a visit from a lady.

She had a list of rules from the HOA that were established long after my parents had built their house, about 15 years later when the subdivision really took off. She said that my dad can’t have the camper on his property because it was an “eyesore”. Mind you, this camper was in the backyard, behind a six-foot privacy fence.

You could still see it, sure, but it’s not like it was old and in disrepair either.

So there were my retired parents, living in a subdivision that has an HOA that was established long after they built their home, and the HOA is expecting them to abide by rules they didn’t agree to.

He never moved the camper.


25. Don’t Touch My Garbage

We live in an HOA neighborhood and we had a neighbor trying to sell his house a few years ago. I kept my trash cans by my garage (they aren’t ratty-looking or stinky, they looked brand new) and when I’d come home, they were gone.

After looking around, I found them behind the fence on my lawn. This happened three times in a week, so after that, I got angry and thought someone was messing with me.

I went to the hardware store, got the largest chain and padlock I could find, and started chaining them to the post on my front porch.

My neighbor was outside and I said, “Hey Craig, you wouldn’t happen to know what keeps happening to my trash cans”? Apparently, he scoured the HOA rule book and found out they are required to be out of sight except on trash day.

He thought my trash cans being visible is why he was having a hard time selling his insanely overpriced house in an awful market and he was moving them himself. Never talked to me, never got a notice from the HOA.

I chewed him out right there—I told him he was an incompetent child and should know better than to repeatedly come on to my property and mess with my stuff without my knowledge.

Trash cans or not, it’s my stuff, property, land, fence, and lawn.


26. After Hours

I went away for a long weekend and left after work on Thursday. On late Friday afternoon, my water heater burst in the attic of a three-story home and flooded my entire townhouse. When my neighbor got home from work, he saw gallons of water running from underneath my garage door.

When he realized I wasn’t home, he tried to find my phone number and when he couldn’t, he called the HOA to notify me.

The lady who answered said that since it was “after business hours (it was 5:01 at this point), the matter would have to wait until Monday ”.

My wonderful neighbor ended up calling the non-emergency 3-1-1 line and they came and shut my water off from the street. When I got home Sunday morning, my entire house was damaged and I could see my attic from my basement.

After a massive panic attack and a frantic call to my insurance company, we started the process of repairs. The cherry on top? I needed to have a dumpster placed in my driveway and a moving pod to remove what was left of my furniture while they began drying out the house, and I got a visit from the HOA.

They didn’t like how “unsightly” my home had become and wanted these items removed from my driveway.

I essentially told them that they could take their complaints and go elsewhere. I got a little revenge too because I stopped paying their stupid fee since they couldn’t fine me before six months and I was moving in less than five months. I’ll never own another home with an HOA ever again.


27. The Hero We Need

Our HOA hired a management company to run the day-to-day business.

What that meant was a guy would ride around taking pictures of petty stuff and mailing violations to homeowners. I had so many quarrels over nothing. Well, it turns out the HOA didn’t have any teeth behind the violations since the bylaws didn’t allow fines.

Somebody came up with the bright idea to start imposing fines to ensure compliance.

They thought they won, but I would NOT have it. That is when I ran for and won the vice presidency of the board. Another gentleman who was fed up with this stupidity ran and won as well.

We didn’t have the power to dissolve the HOA, but we decided the next best thing was to paralyze it.

Without us in attendance, the board could never reach a quorum to conduct business.

And they never did.


28. You, Me, And Him?

Let me paint you a scene: a young married couple finds their first apartment and although it is far from perfect, it is spacious and two minutes away from work.

Mind you, this is the beginning of August…in South Florida. On the day we moved in, we saw a letter posted for the HOA stating that someone HAD to be present in our unit while the workers were there to work on the central cooling unit.

Okay, no big deal, I had the ability to work from home sometimes, so I did. Well, at the end of those two days, in which workers were to be there from 8 am to 5 pm, we were told that the project “was bigger than expected”. We found out the shocking truth behind exactly what was happening.

They were replacing the piping of all 22 units in our complex, and we were lucky enough to have one of two points of access to the roof (in our bedroom closet).

That roof access was utilized 24 days out of the month of August anywhere from one to 14 hours a day.

So to summarize, as newlyweds, we spent the first month of our marriage alongside many A/C repairmen. Also, we still don’t have functioning central air.


29. Trophies

The neighborhood kids and I were avid skateboarders and the lady who was the HOA president decided we weren’t allowed to use our skateboards on the sidewalk or the street anymore.

She proceeded to put up several “no skateboarding” signs all around the complex. As soon as I noticed the signs, I put my sneaky plan into motion.

I went to my dad’s toolbox to borrow a wrench, and in broad daylight, removed each sign one by one and gave them out to each of my friends to hang up in their rooms.


30. All Fired Up

I wanted to tear out a bunch of evergreen bushes that ran alongside my house. We tore them out and we were debating on whether to burn them on-site or put them in a burn pile at a spot I knew about 10 miles or so away.

I opted to just burn them right there. I have an open area next to my house that is about a one-lot size. And so started my nightmare.

We put the bushes in the open, running a garden hose out to the area in case it spread.

Then I decided that I should get a burn permit. So I printed one-off and took it to my fire station to be signed. I came back and put the burn permit on my steps and set the fire.

The bushes were fairly green so they didn’t want to turn aside from the initial flame up. I needed some accelerant, so I ran to the dollar store and grabbed some cheap lighter fluid.

I came back and my buddy told me that some HOA nutjob came by and said we couldn’t burn things. He said that he didn’t care about our permit and he would be calling the Fire Department.

At that point, I heard the fire trucks getting closer. The HOA nutjob pulled up to see what transpired between the Fire Department and me.

The fire truck pulled up, saw that we were doing everything right, turned off the lights and sirens, and waved at us.

The HOA nutjob peeled out and left. We all laughed.


31. Everybody’s Problems

When we rented, the HOA would report to our property manager and then the property manager would call us to let us know what we’d done wrong.

We were reported for so many things that had nothing to do with us. We got a call that we couldn’t have a grill on our front porch. We didn’t even own a grill.

We got told that we were only permitted one car parked on the street. Our other two cars needed to be parked in the garage. We only owned one car at that time. Our neighbors were complaining that our dogs were barking all hours of the night.

We didn’t have dogs (this house didn’t even have a yard).

The weirdest part, however, is when our property manager called and said, “You need to move the doormat that you have leaning against your house”. My husband went outside and found a doormat leaning against the neighbor’s house.

But to whoever reported it…wouldn’t it have been easier to just knock on the door and say something??

For the entire three years that we lived in this house, the neighbors across the street used their porch as storage.

As homeowners (in a different neighborhood, no less), we were written up for not taking Christmas lights down in a timely manner. It was mid-January and we’d been gone for my grandpa’s funeral.

So, we took them down right away as soon as we got the write-up (no warnings–as is procedure–just straight to “Here’s a write-up, you need to go before the board and they’ll decide if you have to pay a fine”).

I alerted them that the lights were removed.

They got back to me saying we didn’t remove all decorations. I had a snowman on the door that said “Let it Snow” and snowflakes in the window.

Winter decorations, not Christmas. They were super snotty about it until I pointed out they’d broken their own procedure by not giving us warnings and that we felt targeted. They dropped it.

A year and a half ago we redid our landscaping.

The landscaper had pavers sitting in the front of the house, so it was obvious something was up. We got a letter in the mail telling us to cease and desist as we hadn’t gotten HOA approval to landscape our backyard.

The letter included a photo. The angle of the photo clearly showed that whoever had taken it had gone into our backyard to take it. They are not allowed to do that. I emailed them, pointing this out.

They dropped it.


32. Childhood Ruined

My family moved to a new neighborhood when I was in kindergarten. My dad had built an amazing playhouse for my siblings and me. It had miniature windows, a miniature door, working lights, and even A/C.

It was basically a tiny house before tiny houses were a thing. It was beautiful. He had built it on cinder blocks so that we could move it to the backyard of our new house once we moved.

Perfect, right? Wrong.

The homeowner’s association refused to let us bring it, citing that the neighborhood didn’t allow “tool sheds” because apparently, they are an eyesore. Backyard playgrounds were fine, but somehow our playhouse didn’t qualify as a playground.

My younger sisters and I were devastated. I remember crying and crying because I couldn’t keep the playhouse that my dad worked so hard on.

I’m 24 years old now, and I still tear up when I think about it.

Why did anyone care so badly that they’d deny some kids their playhouse? I still drive by our old house once a year or so. The new owners haven’t taken care of it and it’s fallen into disrepair.


33. Damaged

Until a recent coup, our HOA was run by some of the pettiest people alive. Some of their hijinks over the years included sending us a nasty letter telling us that we were in breach of their covenants due to bare places in our lawn.

We were in the midst of totally replacing the sod in our yard as part of a landscaping plan the HOA approved.

They also sent us a letter because the trash can had not been moved back inside until 10 minutes after the deadline (6 pm.

on trash pickup day, because apparently no one has a commute or works different hours than the HOA board members. This was sent with a time-stamped photo of the trash can.

And my personal favorite:

they sent us a letter saying that we needed to replace our mailbox because it was damaged and we would be fined $25 a day until we did so. The mailbox was fairly new so I went out to look at it.

It was absolutely covered with bird poop. I cleaned it off and noticed that there was no damage, shrugged, and emailed the HOA that the problem was rectified.

They came out to verify that it was and I got another letter.

It was more bird poop. A few hours of observation revealed that a hawk was perching on the mailbox stalking a chipmunk that was living in the garden around our mailbox. So I went to the garden store and got a bottle of ‘predator pee’ stuff that scares away small animals and sprinkled it around the mailbox, causing the chipmunk to relocate.

Problem solved.

Sadly, I did not send the HOA an envelope full of the stuff.


34. When Life Is Crazier Than Fiction

The very first place in college that I didn’t rent was a townhouse condo. It was a typical cookie-cutter, three-story place with four to a section.

I lived near the back of the development. This meant driving past the front units everyday to get to and from work and school. Our HOA board president, Sonya, lived across the street from our HOA treasurer, Zelda.

Sonya was in her 30s. She ran an unlicensed daycare out of her home. I hated driving by her house after 3 pm or on weekends because her two elementary school-aged kids would hide behind parked cars and run in front of your vehicle screaming, “SLOW DOWN”! I got really scared after this happened a few times and only drove 5 mph through there.

The little turds kept doing it.

I spoke with their mom about how unsafe jumping in front of cars was. I was only going 5 mph because I was terrified and they were basically harassing me and our neighbors weekly.

Sonya’s reasoning was blood-boiling—she said her kids were being neighborhood monitors and I should be thankful for their diligence. I couldn’t even fathom the stupidity.

A week later at 7 pm, after most of the residents are home (mostly young families), I pulled in after working my retail job after class.

I noticed a tow truck, then two, then three. My gosh, I think, they’re towing everyone in the neighborhood. I parked in my garage and ran upstairs to tell my roommates to move their cars from the street parking.

They ran out, and just as I said, everyone who parked on the street was getting towed. There were two neighbors fighting with the tow drivers, saying that they’ve always parked there. It’s a parking area, it’s in our homeowners’ booklet. We whipped it out and the tow truck drivers said they were just following the orders of Sonya and they left when law enforcement showed up.

Sonya put up home-printed paper signs and signed a contract with the tow company in the middle of the day without telling anyone. Law enforcement advised all residents that tomorrow this would be effective, but that the homemade signs Sonya made were not approved by the city and there were no official “No Parking” signs in the area.

That night, Sonya went out into the street with a bucket of red paint to paint the curb red.

She had the tow company post their tow signs and “No Parking” signs the next afternoon. Goodbye, street parking. Now, anyone who didn’t fit in the garage had to park three blocks away, outside the condo units.

But that’s not all.

A week later, four large evergreen trees were cut down from a communal park in the development. HOA treasurer and old lady extraordinaire Zelda found out Sonya had paid her “sideman” who was also an arborist over $8,000 of HOA money to cut these trees down without any discussion or approval from the HOA board.

Zelda flipped, and at the next HOA meeting, she let everyone know what happened to the trees and how Sonya wasted our HOA money away (we were planning for a community co-op garden).

After the 6 o’clock meeting, I guess someone else on the board called Sonya to let her know that she was going to be removed from the HOA president seat due to the unapproved expenses, the towing issue, and more.

Well, at about 8 pm I heard screaming.

Like, blood-curdling screams from a woman, “HELP! CALL 9-1-1”! It was Zelda. She was outside her condo screaming her head off. Sonya came over, punched the 70-year-old Zelda in the face, pulled her out of her own home, locked her out, and was now threatening to harm Zelda’s disabled and bedridden elderly husband who was upstairs!

Zelda was freaking out and I was on the phone with 9-1-1.

About five neighbors were also outside on the phone with law enforcement, Zelda was screaming every curse word in the book through her own front door at our crazy ex-HOA president. Sonya was taken into custody that night for charges like assault and holding someone against their will.

Since Sonya was a single parent, her kids were taken away by relatives about an hour after CPS showed up.

Zelda had this gnarly black eye and huge scratches on her chest where I guess Sonya clawed her shirt and pulled her into the haymaker.

I only lived there for 14 months and moved due to the escalating issues with the HOA.


35. Happy Holidays?

The most recent one was this year. They sent a letter saying no Christmas decorations until 12/1, and they all had to come down before 1/3.

They also sent a whole list of forbidden ornaments, including anything inflated or “not in keeping with the spirit of the season,” so basically all the lighthearted, funny ornaments were banned. Look out the window kids, it’s the Grinch’s sad cave!

Anyway, we had beautiful weather on Black Friday but had to wait until things got cold again before we could get out there and put up lights. Then, after New Year’s Day, we had exactly one day to take down all our lights, and the wind chill was -25 degrees. Naturally, we decided “there’s no way they bill anybody for this” and opted to just leave the lights unplugged. That was a big mistake on our part—we got a bill before 10 am on the 3rd.


36. You Had One Job

In October 2016, my condo started to collapse.

We were forced to leave, and we became officially homeless for a year, with a card from the Red Cross and everything! The HOA did NOTHING. No one would admit to anything, explain anything, or contact us at all.

For a year we waited.

When we were finally told the building was structurally sound again, we moved back in, only to be told later that we had to get out for a month while they did repairs.

But the worst of all? We were required to keep paying our HOA fees through the entire thing. The only way owners were offered non-payment was if we signed a document promising not to sue anyone.


EVER AGAIN with a condo, NEVER AGAIN with an HOA, and NEVER AGAIN with River Towers in Alexandria, VA.


37. Make Up Your Mind

The HOA was nagging my mom to repaint our house because the color was looking faded.

We had it painted five years prior and although it was yellow and had faded a bit, it didn’t look bad at all. Well, my mom finally gave in. She spent $3,000 to $7,000 getting the house repainted.

Two days later, we got a letter that made her livid—it said we didn’t need to paint our house anymore…needless to say, she was not happy.


38. Silver Linings

HOAs aren’t all bad.

Mine collects about $250/year and uses that to keep up all of the public lawns and trees and stuff. Everyone involved has better things to do with their time than keep up with petty nonsense.

  There was one time a stay-at-home mom decided to take it upon herself to enforce all of the parking restrictions outlined in the HOA agreement. She went around putting warnings on people’s cars for all sorts of things.

She wasn’t a board member or anything, she just felt like power tripping. Little did she know her behavior would totally backfire. When she tried to actually get those warnings enforced, the actual board members just laughed at her and moved on with the meeting.


39. Too Many Cut Corners

My dad bought a house in this 15-story apartment complex. The complex has a huge board at the ground floor reception which names the previous owners of every single apartment. Naturally, we asked the HOA to remove the name of the previous owner and add my dad’s name instead.

They refused. Their rules stated that they could only make changes to the board if more than 10 names have to be changed.

Now, let me be very clear—this was a fine cost-cutting measure to have when the complex had just been built and people were buying houses left, right, and center. But now?

It’s been six months and we are no closer to the 10 names, and it’s possible we will never be. Every single delivery is a hassle now and will be forever.


40. The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Privilege

They refused to let us have garage sales.

My dad protested at a meeting, and the president had a shocking excuse—he said it was because they didn’t want “undesirables” in the neighborhood. My dad said, “Oh so you mean anybody who isn’t white, right”? And the president threw him out of the meeting.

We had a garage sale anyway.


41. The Curious Incident Of The Dog Everyday

We used to live in a condo. Our neighbor claimed that our dog “barks incessantly” and the HOA issued a citation. But we had a foolproof plan—we got a camera to prove that our dog didn’t bark. The neighbor filed a claim and the HOA issued a citation.

We showed the footage proving that our dog was mostly silent, so the HOA dismissed the claim. But then the neighbor started to file claims daily, and the HOA would keep issuing fines. No follow-up.


42. Big Ugly

I was subletting a duplex and got a letter for having an unsightly cable. The coax line went under an awning and came away from the house just a few inches since coax doesn’t do sharp turns well.

In HOA fashion, they didn’t politely ask me to do anything, they went straight to threats of fines and evictions.

There was a funny detail, though—that cable was painted the same color as the house, meaning it had been cutting that particular corner since the house had last been painted…which was when it was built, 15 years prior. Thankfully my landlord was cool and made it go away.

Pretty sure some geriatric busybody was unhappy with a young couple living in sin and wanted us punished, preferably by stoning.


43. Sure, Make Granny Suffer

They moved into an over 55 neighborhood (even though they’re not 55 yet) with an HOA. The board, as you can imagine, was full of older people with not a lot to do.

It was them and my 80-year-old grandma living in the house. My parents decided to add a railing to the front steps to help my grandma get up them easier.

It was metal with white bars on the top and bottom and black bars up and down holding it up.

The HOA’s next move was rage-inducing—they claimed they didn’t specify this in the planned proposal and insisted they take it down or they would be fined. My parents moved to repaint it all one color since my grandma needed the support going up the stairs.

They denied it, stating that the material wasn’t correct and they had to remove it to avoid the fine.


44. You Don’t Even Go Here

My HOA story doesn’t involve my own home but one of which I was a frequent guest.

My partner lived across the street from the president of the association and he apparently didn’t like my car very much (2007 Hyundai Accent, dented but that’s not his problem). I wasn’t allowed to park in the driveway (because it was unsightly) or on the street (because it was a fire hazard, I guess).

I either had to park my car on a different block and walk to his house or he had to pick me up. A couple of times, I got off work late and didn’t want to walk; so I just took the risk and parked in the driveway.

He received texts first thing in the morning and a letter threatening a fine. The most ridiculous part: HE WAS RENTING. The landlord was the person who joined the HOA. He just had the misfortune of dealing with Mr.



45. Rules Were Made To Be Broken, I Guess

In 2016, the neighborhood HOA my sister, and her boyfriend put a rule against political signs…which was conveniently suspended for the stupidest reason ever. All the members became huge Trump supporters and started putting signs up in peoples’ yards.

When they were removed, they received threatening phone calls and complaints that they were “harming the solidarity of their community”.


46. Appearance Is Everything

When I was a kid, my dad’s appendix ruptured and he was in the hospital for almost a month.

My mom was with him most of the time and my siblings and I bounced around between grandparents’ and friends’ houses. About a week and a half into his hospital stay, we got a notice from the HOA saying that our lawn was overgrown and that we would be fined if it wasn’t mowed ASAP.

My mom called the president to explain the situation and her response was apathetic: “There are plenty of lawn care companies in the area that you can hire if you are unable to make time to take care of it yourself”.


47. Planters, Keepers

We didn’t buy the house because of it, but the HOA had a very short and restrictive list of plants you were allowed to use in your landscaping. Here’s the thing—most of them weren’t appropriate for our climate and will not survive the heat of summer You were not allowed to deviate from the approved plant list at all, not even behind your wooden backyard privacy fence, because two-story houses looked out over other backyards. It was a stupid and wasteful ordinance.


48. Don’t Stop Me Now

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 threats of fines if we didn’t correct them.

Never did correct them. They finally sent legislative papers to repossess our house—but they had no idea who they were messing with.

We went to court with a tax map that showed our property was NOT part of the HOA community.

The 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 that I could until we moved.


49. I Don’t Need Your Opinion

When we first moved in, I asked the neighbor across the street how “serious” the HOA was here. He said “bad,” then told me a story where he got a notice with a photo of his recycle bin being left on the street for too long. The photo was of him walking the recycling bin back to his garage.

I had the HOA come out to “approve” a fence I was going to install. The lady at the HOA office was very nice and said my plans were within the covenant by-laws etc. We just needed to have the “inspector” check it out himself to sign off. When he got to my house, he said he didn’t understand what I wanted to do. I explained the type of fence I wanted to install and he said that it wasn’t “allowed”.

I walked him out to the street, pointed two houses down, and said “That house, right there has the fence I want to install”. He scoffed, walked down to look, and sure enough, it was EXACTLY as I described it.

He told me, “Well we don’t like to have a bunch of different “types” of fences in the neighborhood”. That’s when I went for the jugular.

“I don’t care what you prefer, the covenant says I can have that fence and that’s what I’m going to install because it’s within the specifications of the covenant”. The old fella didn’t have much to say after that. I got an approval letter the following week.


50. Betrayal

When we were privately renting in a townhome community, the dumpster had video surveillance so that the HOA could fine anyone breaking the rules. One day, both myself and my partner got a nasty call from our property manager alerting us that HOA had fined us $250 for improper dumping.

The property owner will have to pay it and we will have to reimburse him.

After racking our brains about what we could have possibly thrown out that wasn’t allowed, we decided to call up the HOA to see if we could see the video.

They would either transfer us to someone else that would hang up, or their hours would change so that no one would answer the phone, or they’d promise to get the video to us the next day, etc.

This went on for about two weeks.

Finally, my partner got to see the video while I was at work. I texted him to find out what was on it and I was shocked—he said the video was of a middle-aged Asian lady throwing out a bunch of furniture. It was the stupid property owner’s freaking wife.


Source: 1, 2

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