There are countless tales of homeowners’ associations taking a draconian stance on policy enforcement, here are just a few highlights of their enforcement at work.

  • A Californian HOA established demanded residents keep their garage doors open from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, allegedly to expose squatters. This was eventually stopped when enough residents complained about the need to lock down their exposed valuables. Be mindful of any policies your HOA has that could risk your privacy or valuables.
  • One family was repeatedly threatened with fines and jail because their children’s playhouse and swing set were not pre-approved by the HOA despite the playset being present at the home for two years. After going to court, the judge sided with the family. Just because an HOA decides to confront you about something does not mean it will always win; just be willing to fight for it in court if need be.
  • A Tennessee family chose to relocate rather than adhere to their HOA’s demand that all front-facing windows feature 2-inch blinds. The family’s reason? Their young daughter was almost fatally strangled from becoming trapped in the blinds’ cording. Be mindful that HOAs will rarely make exceptions to their bylaws.
  • A Pennsylvania HOA decided that a red tinsel sign spelling “Jesus” was improper after a neighbor complained. The HOA stated that the “prohibited sign” was not normal Christmastime decoration. While the homeowners stuck to their guns, they kept the sign up until a mid-January when a deadline fell for all residents to remove Christmas decor. Be prepared to fight for your decorations or at least know how to work the system.
  • One North Carolinian HOA made the decision to trap and kill dozens of beavers that had occupied a nearby creek because water levels were rising to the point of imperiling community infrastructure. While residents advocated for relocation, North Carolina considers beavers only suitable for destruction. Similarly, a Coloradoan HOA decided to end an influx of rabbits. While it told residents the rabbits would be removed, it failed to disclose that the rabbits would be destroyed post-removal. One resident used her own money to ensure the rabbits were relocated instead. The lesson here? HOAs can be far less compassionate than their residents.

About Ephraim Vashovsky