For those that choose to purchase a home, some properties come with the stipulation of joining a homeowners' association (HOA). While there are benefits that come with joining an HOA, like special amenities, facility support, and maintenance, they are also known to be pretty uptight when it comes to the minutiae of people's homes.
Whether it's a homeowners' association that freaks out about protective netting for a tricycling boy, or a president that ends up assaulting an old woman over her transgressions, it's safe to say that these people all let their power go directly to their heads. Here are some of Reddit homeowners' wildest, most absurd stories about their awful HOAs. Content edited for clarity.
"One time I went away for a long weekend and left after work on Thursday. 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 to no avail, so he called the homeowners' association to notify me.
The lady that 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 police 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 was that I needed to have a dumpster placed in my driveway along with a moving pod as I removed what was left of my furniture and began drying out the house. Then I got a visit from the HOA.
They didn't like how 'unsightly' my home had become and wanted the items removed from my driveway, so I essentially told them that they could take their complaints and go shove them up their butts.
I got a little revenge too because I stopped paying their stupid fees since they couldn't fine me before six months of residency and I was moving in less than five months. I will never again own a property involved with a homeowners' association, they're the worst."
"My friend and her husband moved into this gated community. She loves having a birdbath in her backyard...and she gardens a lot, so the decoration makes sense. Turns out her HOA figured out that she had said birdbath in her backyard. Apparently birdbath=lawn ornament, which was forbidden. She told them she would remove it. A week later she gets another message saying that it hasn't been removed (it wasn't). Obviously, her and her husband put it together that the HOA is snooping in her backyard.
For a week, she spends her time outside sunbathing in the wide open setting her trap. Sure enough, an HOA narc opens the gate to their backyard and sees her in the birthday suit.
Instant call to the police for privacy violations. The HOA gave up and let her have a birdbath.
She is now on the board of the HOA and they leave her alone."
"When my boyfriend and I were privately renting in a town home community, the dumpster had video surveillance so that the homeowners' association could fine anyone breaking the rules about what we were allowed to dump.
One day my boyfriend and I both got crabby calls from our property manager, alerting us that HOA had fined us $250 for illegal dumping. She said the property owner would have to pay it and we would 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 ask if we could see the video. Everyone time we called, they would either transfer us to someone else that would hang up, 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. That went on for about two weeks.
Finally, my boyfriend got to see the video one day while I was at work. I texted him to find out what was on it and he said the video was of a middle-aged lady throwing out a bunch of furniture; it was the stupid property owner's freaking wife! We were livid. The owner was actually really nice about it once he realized what happened, but the property manager was still rude.
The owner actually ended up firing the manager a while later because we got mail from the IRS meant for him, so we gave it to her to pass along to him, but he never got it."
"My very first place in college that I didn't rent was a townhouse condo. It was your typical cookie cutter, three-storied, four to a section, little cut out of suburbia for beginners. I lived near the back of the development which meant driving by/past the front units every day to get to and from work and school.
Our homeowners' association board president, Sonya, lived across the street from our elderly HOA treasurer, Zelda. Sonya was in her 30s and ran an illegal daycare out of her home, and I hated driving by her house after 3 PM or on weekends because her two elementary-aged kids would hide behind parked cars and run in front of your vehicle screaming, 'Slow down!'
I got really scared after that happened a few times and only drove 5 MPH through there but the little twerps kept doing it. I spoke with their mom about how unsafe jumping in front of cars was. I was driving very slow because I was TERRIFIED and they were basically harassing me and our neighbors weekly, but Sonya said her kids were being neighborhood monitors so I should be thankful for their diligence. What the heck?
A week later around 7 PM, after most of the residents were home (mostly young families), I pulled in after work and noticed a tow truck on the street. Then two. Then three. Holy poop, they were towing everyone in the neighborhood! I parked in my garage and ran upstairs to tell my roommates to move their cars from the street. They ran out and, sure enough, everyone who parked on the street was getting towed.
Two of my neighbors were fighting with the tow truck drivers, saying that they've always parked there because it's a parking area, which is indicated in our homeowners' booklet. We whipped it out but the tow truck drivers said they're just following the orders of Sonya and then left when the police showed up. Apparently, Sonya had put up home printed paper signs and signed a contract with the tow company in the middle of the day without telling anyone.
That night she went out into the street with a bucket of red paint and painted the curbs! Then she had the tow company post their tow signs and no parking signs the next afternoon, eliminating street parking. After that, anyone who didn't fit in their garage had to park three blocks away, outside the condo units.
The next straw was when four large Evergreen trees were cut down from a communal park in the development. Zelda the treasurer found out that Sonya had paid her 'sideman' arborist over $8,000 of HOA money to cut the trees down without any discussion or approval from the HOA board. Zelda flipped her lid and let everyone know what happened to the trees at the next HOA meeting, including how Sonya had used the funds intended for our 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, towing issue, and more. Around 8 PM I heard screaming outside, blood-curdling female screams of, 'Help! Call the police!'
It was Zelda standing outside her condo, completely freaking out.
Apparently, Sonya came over, punched the 70-year-old Zelda in the face, pulled her out of her own home, locked her out, and then started threatening to harm her disabled and bedridden elderly husband who was upstairs! Zelda was hysterical while I was on the phone with the police, as were five neighbors also standing outside. Zelda was screaming every curse word in the book through her own front door at our crazy ex-HOA president.
Sonya was arrested that night for some crazy stuff like assault and holding someone hostage. Since Sonya was a single parent, her kids were taken away by relatives about an hour after Child Protective Services showed up. Zelda was left with a gnarly black eye and huge scratches on her chest where Sonya had clawed her shirt and pulled her into the haymaker. I only lived there 14-months and eventually moved due to the escalating issues with the HOA. It was quite an ordeal!"
"My dad moved into a new townhouse in the summer of 2013 and it was a foreclosure property, as the previous tenants were kicked out for not paying their mortgage/homeowners' association dues.
Apparently, the summer before that they'd given everyone in the homeowners' association new patios and decks. It was required that you had to get a new deck/patio, however, the tenants had to pay for them in monthly installments over the next three years in addition to their HOA dues.
There was also a rule put in place when the decks were installed which was that you couldn't move out without paying off your deck first. But since the previous tenants foreclosed on their home, the deck hadn't been paid off.
My dad was told by the HOA that he would not have to pay off the deck because it was foreclosed so it wasn't his responsibility.
Sweet, free deck! He thought as he signed off the agreement.
He moved in shortly thereafter, but then the HOA starting sending him payment notices for the deck. He was completely confused, as they'd agreed he wasn't liable, so he fought it with the board.
Even with the signed document saying that we didn't have to pay for the deck...the board went against him. He ended up having to pay off the remaining balance on the deck, and, to this day, he refuses to speak about this topic. It's a huge trigger for him."
"Back when I lived with my mom we were part of a homeowners' association that were a bunch of turds. The average age of the HOA was about 60 years old and at the time, I was 16. We had a community pool and my mom got HOA violation letters because I wore a bikini to a swimming pool.
That's odd, I thought.
After that, I wore a one-piece swimsuit to the pool and my mom got another letter saying the bathing suit was risqué, but they dropped it when my mom told them it was my high school swim team uniform, asking them to explain how it was provocative.
The next summer they had new rules that basically made it impossible for any kids to enjoy the pool, and it soon became an old folks' pool. Next thing you know, the police did an undercover sting and half the HOA were arrested for 'lewd and lascivious actions in a swimming pool' as they were using it as a launching platform for their swingers' club.
After that, the pool rules were rescinded and we got to use the pool again. As I got older, I realized the valuable lesson I'd learned from that experienced: never buy a home that has an HOA. I haven't been involved with one since then and I never intend to. The majority of the time they're run by old people with superiority complex issues."
"My parents live in a neighborhood with several of the local physicians. One of them has like six kids, and the youngest has severe autism and is non-verbal. He's about five or six years old and he loves riding his little tricycle in their driveway, which is pretty large, and would do it for hours. His mom stayed home with him for the most part, and she and her husband became concerned that he'd drive into the road in a moment if they happened to look away.
To deal with that potential issue, they got some orange construction netting that they'd just put across the end of the driveway while he was out there, and then take it down when they went back inside. I always thought that net was a good idea to keep him safe.
However, several of the families in the neighborhood were not pleased with the net and said it was an 'eyesore,' so a homeowners' association meeting was called. The meeting quickly turned into attacks on how the couple were taking care of their son, and how it made the neighborhood look 'ignorant' to have the netting up.
Needless to say, no one offered any other options, and the family was so irate that they packed up and moved within a month. That happened about 3-4 years ago and the house still hasn't sold. Now they live out in the country somewhere, and last time I talked to the dad he said that the son is doing very well in their new home and still rides his bike for hours on end."
"I had just moved into my house a few months prior when I got a letter threatening to be fined $200 stating that 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 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 hear nothing back for well over a month, then get another letter giving me a 'courtesy' week extension before I'm fined.
I'm livid at this point, so I contact the HOA again asking for an explanation as to what exactly the problem is. I'm 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. So I freaking painted it.
Now for the part that set me over the edge... After a few months or so I learned that the freaking HOA will replace a mailbox, as it's covered under our terms. So I called them asking about why they threatened to fine me when they were the ones that should 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..."
"I grew up in a military family, so we moved around every four years and lived primarily on base housing until we relocated from Georgia to Michigan, where we moved into a nice subdivision. The subdivision had a lake with some houses backing up to it. The homeowners' association for the subdivision had a clear agenda of creating a park-like atmosphere around the lake and had recently begun implementing decisions based on aesthetics and some new bylaws they'd enacted.
The problem was, the bylaws affected my parents' plan to put in a fence and pool in their backyard. The bigger problem was, the HOA enacted the bylaws incorrectly and never recorded them. Little did they know that, after finishing the military, my mom had gone on to become a teacher and then later got her law degree. When they posted a cease and desist notice for our backyard renovations, my mom called them on their lies.
When they declared they would 'tear down our fence,' my dad's response was, 'I'd like to see them freaking try!'
The HOA was simply being implacable. In Michigan, you have to have a fence if you want a pool, it's a safety/liability thing. However, the people with lake houses didn't want fences and thought they were offensive to see and against their park aesthetic. Even after my parents offered to put a really nice fence up, not some lame chain link thing, they still said no. Other people had similar issues with the HOA, offering many solutions only to be denied. It was clear the power-tripping group just didn't want fences and thought they had the power to decide. It got so bad that another homeowner lost a sale of their house because a new buyer with small children couldn't get approval for any kind of fence in their wooded lot.
After hearing others' horror stories and seeing the pushback from the HOA, my parents decided on the nuclear approach and implemented it. Construction on an expensive white vinyl fence began, finished, and the pool equipment was on the way when we received the stop order notice. Then I got to witness something that still brings a tear to my eye.
See, these turds had been puffing themselves up for months over the fence, and they even went and hired an attorney to 'put a stop to it.' This attorney invited everyone to a sit-down meeting. This meeting wasn't just in someone's living room; no, they rented out an entire boardroom at a local eatery. My dad said he didn't want anything to do with it (knowing his temper problem and 12 Gauge which he casually referred to as his 'southern hospitality' would not be welcome) and asked that I go with mom to provide backup.
Not realizing what I was about to witness, I blithely agreed and showed up in my polo and cargo pants while everyone else was in suits and ties. This board of old ticked off dudes was sitting there waiting for us when we arrived. We sat down and they started talking about costs and how they had to hire a lawyer that we'd have to pay for since we created the problem.
Then my mom cut them off, 'What makes you think you have any legal right to impose this rule?' she asked.
They all turned to their attorney who said, 'Umm...miss...ma'am, we had a vote.'
Then my mom did it. She took out the recorded bylaws, flopped them onto the table, and said, 'Really? It's not in here.'
Cue awkward moment of silence. Papers rifled through. Stammering. My mom, seeing the opportunity, continued, 'See, what I think happened is you had a vote, but it was wrong. These bylaws require a majority of the lots to vote in favor of a change to be made. You had a majority of the votes cast, not a majority of the total lots. So what you really had was a plurality and that vote never passed. You can see the rules for voting here (points out page) and you can see that the rule was never changed in the official bylaws either, probably because it never passed. And now, NONE of you have bothered to even read or follow the bylaws and you're trying to impose them on me. Well, I can tell you THAT'S not going to happen. Thank you gentleman, I will not be paying a dime for any of this or your attorney, have a good day.'
Then she got up, looked at me to follow her, and marched out. They actually had the gall to try to hand her an invoice for the lawyer as she walked out and she just waved it off. That was the day I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. Serving fools like that, my mom showed me what it was to stand up to those who had let power go to their head."
"My friend's mom lives inside this circular complex full of townhouses with a roundabout in the center that used to have a lot of trees and looked really nice, almost like a mini park. The HOA decided to cut down all of the trees without giving notice and my friend's mom was very upset.
She went to complain about it and they basically said, 'Sorry, too late.'
In protest of them doing that, she decided to buy this big inflatable palm tree that she stuck on her balcony for all to see. One of the neighbors, who was in the HOA decided to file a complaint because it looked gaudy. She knew exactly who it was and it upset her more that this person did that instead of coming to talk to her after years of living near each other.
She was able to keep her tree and when Christmas came around she even decorated it. She decided she was going to wage this war against the HOA and this neighbor by having annoying inflatable decorations on her balcony. When it started warming up she bought a flamingo, which she likes to dress in Chicago Cubs or Blackhawks gear depending on the season.
I told my friend he should get her a six-foot wacky waving inflatable tube man to put on there next, which I think would be hilarious, but I don't know if she wants to take it that far."
"Right after my wife and I got married we found an apartment to move into and, although it was far from perfect, it was spacious and two minutes away from work. This happened during the beginning of August in south Florida.
On the day we moved in, we found a letter posted from the homeowners' association 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 have the ability to work from home sometimes, so I did.
Well, at the end of those first two days (workers were there from 8AM-5PM) we were told that the project was 'bigger than expected' and found out exactly what was happening. They were replacing the piping of all 22 units in our complex, and we were lucky enough to have 1 of 2 points of access to the roof in our bedroom closet.
That roof access was utilized for 24 days out of the month of August for up to 14 hours a day, so my new wife and I spent a lot of our first month of marriage alongside AC repairmen. Also, we still don't have functioning central air."
"I'm a college student so I stay on campus most of the year and go home during the summer. I got pretty bored at home so I set up a basketball hoop in my driveway, and I played daily throughout the summer before going back to campus in the fall.
Right when I got back to school, my dad got a letter from the homeowners' association stating that if he didn't take the hoop down, he would get fined daily. My dad didn't feel like arguing, so he took my rim down.
When I came back home for winter break, I scheduled a meeting with the HOA and asked them for answers. They told me a basketball hoop was not the 'image' they wanted our neighborhood to represent.
When I threatened them with legal action, they relented and allowed me to put the hoop back up. My break ended last week so I moved back to campus and my dad received another letter from the HOA.
This time the letter said that a basketball hoop would only be allowed as long as someone used it at least once a week. Were they seriously going to have someone watching the hoop at all times to make sure someone played it once a week?
Obviously, I can't drive home every week just to play basketball on my driveway, so once again my dad was forced to take it down. Now when I go back home for summer break, I'll have to rebuild my hoop all over again. The bureaucracy and red tape with those people are unbelievable!"
"A friend of mine who had a diseased, rotting, falling over tree in his front yard had to request the homeowner's association's approval to have the tree removed. His request was initially denied and stalled for several weeks, because the association wanted professional verification that the tree was actually diseased. A cursory glance at a tree that was practically horizontal in the guy's yard wasn't enough, apparently.
The church I'm a member of owns a house next door to the church. The house has some historical significance and is architecturally interesting, but at this point it's been totally abandoned for years. The family who built the house no longer has any interest in it, they sold it to the church and have no relatives in the city anymore. Because of the architecture and the length of the abandonment, doing anything productive with the house is likely a million dollar+ project. But the association has flatly refused to approve any reno plans and simultaneously has refused any notion at all to tear the house down. So the church is stuck with a house that is in increasingly bad shape, totally empty, can't be sold because of its condition, and the neighborhood association will not approve any plan to do anything with the house except leave it alone."