I HATE HOA's
I know they have value in many communities. They maintain the pool common area and keep people from doing redicuilos things like painting a house green with orange trim.
However, there are sometimes people on the board who are just power hungry and want to feel important. I had a problem with an HOA president, not the HOA itself. She lived across the street from a flip I was doing and was nothing but trouble through the whole process. She, the HOA, sent me a violation letter every week or so. As her final effort she would not allow the HOA to issue a free to close letter (estoppel). Her issue was the garage door was not compliant. I walked the neighborhood and about 20 % of the houses had the same Home Depot door, including 2 that closed since she was elected. Further, the VP did not have a complaint door either. The management company made her agree to allow the house to close, since she and the HOA would be liable for any losses resulting from their selective enforcement of the rules.
Does anyone else have an HOA horror story?
We've had this thread many times and there are plenty of horror stories. The problems arise from two groups of people: the ignorant and the petty.
The ignorant are the ones that buy into an HOA without reading or understanding what it entails, then they flip out when someone fines them for leaving Christmas lights up all year or not keeping their dog on the leash. I think this group creates the majority of problems because it ramps up Group #2.
Group #2 are the people that live in the community and often are retired. They want everyone to live the way they live, period. Because they have a lot of time on their hands, they're the first ones to spot problems with Group #1. As they attempt to correct obvious, blatant violations in the HOA, they start getting ramped up and take it too far. Again, because they have so much time on their hands, they relish reading the rules and regs and looking for ways to keep their community "perfect" which actually makes their community less desirable.
I find that the HOA managers can be bullies, but having sat on those boards and managed associations, I understand their position. If you aren't tough on the landowners, they will walk all over you. However, it's OK to be firm, but not OK to be a jerk about it. And they tend to forget that the landowners are their customers.
Have there ever been actual bonafide studies proving HOAs increase property values? It seems to me that the reasons people cite to justify their existence are grossly overblown. i.e. with the green walls / orange trim example I understand it's ugly but I hardly find it a reason for me to tell another what to do with their stuff. (For the record I live in an HOA and a few lots down the street is a red brick house with this awful orange trim. I'm 100% confident it has no impact on my homes value whatsoever)
At any rate HOAs always come with fees that eat away at any supposed value they create, and more and more I see people citing the lack of an HOA as a benefit of a property. People are finding that these busybodies regulating the shade of eggshell white allowed for a mailbox are more trouble than they're worth. They're an unnecessary additional layer of government.
About 7 years ago my HOA really started abusing their power toward families with children. When our building was made in the late 60's no children were allowed to live there. The laws changed and they were no longer allowed to discriminate against families with children. However, a contingent of original owners continued to do so for many years.
They harassed kids at 1pm on a Saturday of a three day 4th of July weekend for making too much noise at the pool. Not playing Marco Polo or anything horrible like that. Just for waking up some old person during her nap. For a while they kept enforcing every violation imaginable against any kid without a parent present. Kids could not play ball, ride anything with wheels, play tag, etc. Basically, every time they saw a kid outside without a parent they issued a warning or a fine. And they frequently screamed at the kids. One old lady in particular was unhinged. She would swear a stream of profanities at the kids and threaten to beat them.
The HOA president warned the rest of the HOA to stop. He said they were begging for a lawsuit but the contingent of old hags wouldn't stop. The HOA's attorney told them the same thing. Finally, all the parents got together and ousted enough of them in the election. All the fines they issued were repealed. Since then a few of the worst of them died sad bitter and alone in their condos or were shipped off to nursing homes.
Anytime the discussion of HOA regimes pops up I think of an episode of the X-Files from the 90s called "Arcadia". Mulder and Scully go undercover as a married couple in an otherwise perfect community of SFRs where people have mysteriously died.
The theory goes that "something" is killing residents who do not conform and Mulder does not conform. He uses a portable basketball hoop, messes with his mailbox (I think he paints it the wrong shade of eggshell), and thinking that there are bodies buried in the yard he uses a bulldozer to excavate a huge hole. When told it's against the rules to install a swimming pool, he says he's building a reflecting pool and that the HOA rules do not regulate reflecting pools.
It was one of the funniest episodes of that show but, sadly, X-Files is not on Netflix so I wasn't able to pull it up once this thread put it in my head.
There is a reason that HOAs "enforce every petty rule". The rules can only be enforced by civil law, by not enforcing the rules the HOA can lose the right to enforce the rules. Let's say the board allows several owners to use unapproved paint, non-compliant garage doors, etc. Then I decide to do what I did as a young GI and start repairing and flipping cars. It's called curbing when you do it with cars!
The board sends me a letter telling me to cease and desist and I ignore them or tell them to pound sand. They take me to court and my attorney cites "selective enforcement". In reality their attorney would have strongly suggested they reach an accommodation with me long before it reached the courtroom.
BTW, I have a lot of experience with HOAs as a result of having had a lot of rentals in Houston Texas (no zoning so HOAs are a necessity), as an owner, board member and plaintiff in a couple of lawsuits. I was the president of my small, 23 property, HOA where I live now until the other two board members decided to cut maintenance expenses. Said cuts could easily lead to a lawsuit or two.
Since I left the board I had to stop them from holding a vote during an illegally called and constituted meeting and three times I had to point out during the meeting that the board was giving incorrect information ton the members.
In a bureaucratic world, keep your lawyer on speed dial sad, but its just the cost of doing business. As the president of a small (24 unit) HOA, we take all attorney demand letters seriously as one lawsuit would wipe out our annual budget.
I can't speak for other areas, but here in Houston HOAs provide a valuable service. We have no zoning so someone could open a strip club or an auto mechanic shop next door. The HOA deed restrictions prevent that from happening.
I just heard something interesting from my aunt in Naples FL who lives in a condo complex. They ban work vehicles with logos on it which is a common abuse of HOA power, but they tried (and failed) to ban all trucks. Yes, just regular personal trucks that many people drive because they like them. It seems unreal to me that a snug group of authoritarians in an HOA can so easily invent some arbitrary rule for themselves.
Honestly the rule about work-logo trucks is nothing but the work of a bunch of elitists who don't want to manufacture the illusion that they are better than blue-collar commoners and don't want to see any sign of them in their community.
I've lived in my HOA for about 16 years now (would never do it again but this is now home) and my neighbor of only a couple years is moving out. I believe this is because another neighbor had been harassing him over his work van which causes no actual harm to anyone whatsoever but apparently causes my neighbor loads if imaginary grief. So now these nice neighbors are moving out and what will I get in exchange? A neighbor with an obnoxious barking dog?
I live in a condo complex. For the last five years, my wife has not sent a single check to the HOA without writing an F U in Russian on the memo line.
I lived in one in North Naples for 3 years. I cut down several nuisance trees inculding a large coconut palm that was hovering over my neighbor's driveway where his children played and his corvette was often parked. My neighbor never asked me to have it removed. I did it because of the danger these palms pose. One of the men from HOA came to my house letting me know I need to get permission before doing anything to the the exterior of MY property. Another resident cut a tree on HIS property and was fined by HOA. He fought back big time. How big did he fight? He hired an attorney. Six freaking years later it was not resolved and every homowner received a special assessment to pay lagal fees for the tree-fight. Another neighbor wanted to paint her house white, with blue accents on the door and shutters. They told her NO. Mind you, this is not a cookie-cutter neighborhood. Every house is different and does their own lanscaping. So here we are paying the hoa fees every month, paying our taxes and mortgage, and yet HOA gets to tell us what we can do and not do with our property. I moved out. NEVER AGAIN! Luckily I made a good chunk of change on that house. Oh, and I will never invest in a property with HOA. They are ridiculous about who you rent to. Nope! Not for me.
Linda that is completely ridiculous the HOA tyrants would throw a fit over that. I am curious though: why did you have coconut trees? Didn't Gilligan's Island warn you of their dangers? LOL
I had to do something similar with a property I bought that neither had an HOA or a tiwn government (it was unincorporated county land) and I paid about $72 to get permission to cut down trees on my own property. County tree person came out to count that I had the right amount of trees to avoid having to buy new ones and adviced me that a huge dying tree (i.e. there was literally a hole at the base that rotted a small hole through the tree) did not need any permission to cut if I chose to in the future. He was nice and informative on the health of my trees but the whole time I was thinking about how I am living in America but need the government's permission to cut down trees.
On my next property there were some tall long-needle pines and my neighbor's fell across my property's backyard during a hurricane. I had the remaining 3 removed and didn't even bother asking Big Brother for permission.
I have a 3rd property with some genetic trees on the side that are growing through power cables and cable COAX lines. They are also infected with mistletoe so they're going next, and I may forget to ask my Big Brother for permission again.
Free eBook from BiggerPockets!
Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!
- Actionable advice for getting started,
- Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
- Learn how to get started with or without money,
- Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
- And a LOT more.
Sign up below to download the eBook for FREE today!
We hate spam just as much as you
Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community
Basic membership is free, forever.