Compiling a list of HOA horror stories has become somewhat of a tradition for us this time of year. Whether the Board overreaches, homeowners disregard rules, or pettiness takes root, HOA horror stories continue to make headlines. In the spirit of Halloween, here are three of our top picks:
Skeletons in the closet(?):
An HOA required residents at a community in Auburn, California to keep their doors open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. The HOA could have fined people $200 if they kept their door closed. The policy had been put in place after one homeowner was caught allowing people to live in his garage.
After predictable backlash, a letter was sent to residents: "The new garage door policy has been put on hold by the Board of Directors effective immediately. You may keep your garage doors down until further notice. The Board of Directors will be working with the Members (homeowners) to hopefully come up with a more 'reasonable' policy." Homeowners can go back to hiding messes, valuables, and maybe skeletons behind a closed garage door.
Don’t let your freak flag fly:
The president of a townhome community in Toronto sent an email to all owners, saying that any Halloween decorations that included "representations of the occult or supernatural" (skeletons, witches, vampires, monsters, and even jack-o-lanterns), were unacceptable and would result in a fine. The only decorations permitted would be of a "general fall theme," and not Halloween-related. This will be a fun one to watch to see how homeowners interpret the mandated “general fall theme”.
A Colorado homeowner took it upon himself to trim shrubs hanging over the sidewalk, but apparently did so without consulting the HOA first, and with far less finesse than Edward Scissorhands turning all the hedges in the uniformly pastel community into topiaries, as one neighbor described it as looking “worse than a bad haircut”. The HOA issued a $1075 fine for the cost of replacing the damaged shrubs. No good deed goes unpunished (especially when the deed is unwanted and poorly executed).