It’s no secret, homeowners associations are known for crazy regulations.
Sure, many HOA regulations are beneficial. After all 70% of homeowners have a positive view of their HOA.
But with 63 million people in America living under homeowners association regulations. And little government oversight dictating what regulations HOA’s can pass, you better bet there are some crazy stories.
When unscrupulous individuals get behind the reigns....
Suddenly, a homeowners association can turn from a blessing to a waking nightmare.
Today, let’s take a look at 17 crazy fines that HOAs have imposed onto their residents over the years!
Can homeowners associations make any regulations they want?
Although there are some federal rules which govern HOA regulations in regards to discrimination and fair housing. In general, HOA’s have a lot of leeway as to what rules they can make.
Of course, HOA’s can not violate the law. Yet when someone abuses the HOA system. Homeowners associations can be terrifying for the targeted individual or community.
After-all, you sign an agreement that you will comply with the homeowners association regulations. So, legally speaking, homeowners associations can make nearly any rules that they want.
These 17 scenarios serve to prove that point!
1. Fines for Political Signs
To express just how little regulation there is surrounding HOA’s. David Reischer, Esq from LegalAdvice.com has a story about representing a client who was fined for having political signs in his yard.
His story illustrates just how little dictates the regulation of HOA’s. Here is what he had to say:
“I have represented a client that was forbidden from posting political signs in their front yard. The HOA fined my client for posting a 'Trump For President' in 2016 sign on his front lawn.”
“Our legal argument before the court was predominantly based on that the First Amendment which we argued allowed a person to freely express themselves, including the posting of a political sign in the front yard. However, an HOA is based upon a contractual agreement among its owners, and is therefore considered a private entity, not necessarily subjected to the restrictions imposed on government by the First Amendment clause.”
“It was a complicated case that finally got settled, but it really underscores how crazy HOA regulations can drive a homeowner nutty, especially in these polarized political times, in which people get very heated and passionate about their political beliefs.” -David Reischer, Esq. LegalAdvice.com
What other crazy fines have HOA's imposed?
Keep reading and you will find out! This next one is a doozy...
2. NOT Leaving Garage Door Open
Yes. You read that correctly. Not leaving the garage door open!
This one is simply out there. In most communities you might suspect that if anything, leaving the garage door open would be considered a finable nuisance. But in one Auburn, California HOA community, the opposite is true.
You might be wondering what possible reason such an HOA regulation would be implemented. I know I was.
Apparently, someone was renting out their garage to tenants. As a result a rule was implemented that all residents must leave their garage doors open from 8am to 4pm in the Auburn Green's Homeowners Association.
3. Fines Over Branded Vehicles and HOA Hypocrisy
This one fits right in with GreenPal, as it involves a landscaping company owner being harassed for his truck and trailer. This HOA regulation story really goes to show just how far a rouge HOA can go to target someone with arbitrary rules.
This story comes out of Orlando, Florida and came from Courtney Keene, Director of Operations of MyRoofingPal.
I’ll leave the story telling to her!
“My partner at the time owned a landscaping company, and he drove a branded truck that often had a trailer (for his equipment) that wouldn't fit in the driveway. Every time he parked it on the curb, someone from the neighborhood was quick to complain to the HOA."
"They knew they couldn't make a case disallowing people from parking along the curb, because many of their own board members did the same thing with second or third vehicles. They decided instead to ban any branded vehicles from being parked in front of the house."
"There was no room for my partner to park in the garage, so he ended up having to park around back. A few months later, the wife of one of the board members started an Avon business and got decals for her SUV which she always parked in her driveway. My partner complained to the board because of the obvious special treatment, and they -- no joke -- told him any advertisement had to be a specific size. Hers was supposedly acceptable because it fell within that completely arbitrary range."
"He actually ended up painting over the branding on his truck and had it redone to be exactly within those standards, just to prove they didn't actually care about that. They of course complained and issued a fine for having the vehicle out in front of the house, then changed the rule so that it disallowed trailers, not branded vehicles."
"We ended up moving before my partner could get into an all-out war with these people, but I'll never forget the hypocrisy. I really hope to never be part of a neighborhood with a HOA ever again.” -Courtney Keene, MyRoofingPal.
4. Retroactively Raised Fees
Look, if you think that you have heard it all.
This person reported that their HOA raised fees retroactively!
Could you imagine?!
5. Parking Truck in Driveway
This one is outright crazy! One man in Florida spent $200,000 to defend his right to park his truck in the driveway instead of his garage.
Although he eventually won in court, A.J. Vizzi was forced through a long legal battle which lasted 2 years.
Simply because his truck did not fit inside the garage!
"It was like, 'our rules overrule what your community says because we're a master association and, you know, we're right and you're wrong.' I couldn't believe I had to go hire an attorney just to defend myself against this ... meritless lawsuit." -A.J. Vizzi told Fox 13.
6. Fined For Having a Hobby
Apparently in some homeowner's associations, having a hobby is frowned upon.
As Lily Morford writer/researcher for USInsuranceAgents.com explains.
“I live in the Tampa Bay area (in Florida) in a townhome. Since my husband and I don’t have a garage that is connected to our townhome, my husband enjoys doing some woodworking inside my mom’s garage (that is connected to her townhome) that is a few miles down the street (in a different neighborhood) from us.”
“My mother’s HOA has accused her of running a woodworking business from inside her garage. My husband does have a full-time job, but he likes to build things (small furniture and shelves and the like) for people and occasionally sells what he makes at local fairs in town.“
“After a few months of going back and forth with her HOA, she was sued by the HOA for operating a business out of an HOA unit even though she has never missed an out-of-pocket HOA payment since the day she moved in. We’ve since hired her an attorney and she’s fighting the case in court.” -Lily Morford USInsuranceAgents.com
7. Raising the Costs of Gardening
Look, landscaping can be expensive. And planning a successful landscape can easily cost a bit on it's own. But if you live in a home owners association, and you build the wrong type of garden. The cost of gardening can quickly become unaffordable!
For one Texas couple their flower beds have resulted in over $20,000 in fees and over $100,000 in legal fees.
In Texas City, Texas, the most Texas of cities. Dorothy and Klaas Tademas were fined $200 a day for a flower bed which was in violation of the HOA regulations. Although the couple updated their garden beds to meet the HOA standards, they are still facing a mountain of fees, which the couple simply can not afford.
I don’t know of too many people that could afford to pay that much. I have seen some amazing landscapes over the years. However, $100,000 is a pretty steep budget.
8. Shutter Color Fiasco
Debra Blue was living her best life. And she wanted her house to reflect that. What better way to do that than to paint your shutters a pretty plum color?
Well, her HOA thought there were other ways that she could go about conducting herself and her creativity.
They first sent her a letter telling her that she needed approval to continue keeping this home improvement. She requested approval and was denied. Debra was then told that if she continues to keep the shutters up, she will be fined up to $25 a day. Eventually the fines totalled $1,000.
After her request was denied though, she went house to house to ask her neighbors for approval for her plum shutters. She had compiled a list of supporters by the time she was done.
But, when her HOA continued to give her grief about her shutter color. She decided to try to put an end to the whole shutter debacle by just taking them down. Whether it was until the color was resolved, or indefinitely.
Good news! After many an hour spent with her neighbors in meetings and trying to figure out what to do. They eventually got the board members of their HOA kicked off and got some new, fairer ones, put on. They decided on a slightly darker shade of plum purple and Debra got her shutters put back up.
Her house is now truly living it’s best life!
9. Too many Rose Bushes
For some there is no such thing as too many rose bushes. But for one man too man roses lead to $70,000 in fines, and foreclosure on his home!
In one Santa Fe, California community, Jeffery DeMarco dubbed his property Ranch of 10,000 Roses. When he submitted his proposal to the HOA, he never heard back from them. So he thought it was all good. As an avid plant breeder, Jeffery’s ambitions plan cost him around $200,000 to implement.
Unfortunately, the home owners association didn’t appreciate roses the same way as Jeffery. Nor did they like his marble dolphin statues at the front of his property, which they described as “too ornate”.
The HOA said his plan didn't call for so many roses. But he quipped that it was titled the Ranch of 10,000 Roses, and he thought that made his intentions very clear.
This fiasco lead to massive fines and foreclosure on Jeffery's home.
10. $3,400 Plastic Lawn Flamingos
A Georgia couple kept their house nice, and their lawn even nicer. Their lawn was lovingly adorned with a nice pair of plastic flamingos. A day came when they decided to move out of their house and sell it. Little did they know, plastic flamingos get pretty expensive when there are fees involved.
It turns out their homeowners association wasn’t as big of a fan of the flamingos as the couple was. Because when they went to sell their house, it had a $3,400 lien on it.
They had been getting fined $25 a day due to “unapproved lawn decorations” and were never told about it!
It seems that we’ll never know how the case pans out. As the story was written, the couple and homeowner’s association were feuding about reaching a settlement for who gets the $3,400. Maybe a judge had to decide?
11. Fines for Facebook Posts
This one was reported to us by Deb Fiorentino of Fiore & Co. PR. It’s actually a story about her daughter in Gilbert, AZ. This is another case where first amendment rights are being infringed upon by HOA regulations.
“My daughter is the administrator of a non-sanctioned neighborhood Facebook group - the kind where neighbors post about lost dogs and cats, and the help finding landscaping service."
"In January she received a letter from the HOA threatening to fine her $250 per day if she did not remove what they thought were negative comments about the board from the non-sanctioned, private, neighborhood Facebook group. The fines were said to be $250 per day and revocation of her clubhouse privileges."
My daughter said they can't ask her to censor my neighbors and refused to take down the letters, hired an attorney and prepared to fight the fines.
"This opened a two-month battle on the rights of the board and the neighborhood. Along the way the neighborhood has uncovered all kinds of wrong doing since and has gathered a petition to have the board recalled. You can also check out a facebook page my daughter threw up at www.savevvl.com”
12. Jailed for Not Resodding
66 year old Joseph Prudent was living in Bayonet Point, Florida when he was arrested for failing to sod his lawn and being in contempt of court.
He had recently fallen on some tough times financially. Yet as fines and complaints about his lawn piled up, he still wasn’t able to “pay his dues”. Because of this, he was arrested.
The HOA in his area claimed that they were just enforcing a serious and legal system. Thankfully, some in his neighborhood pitched in to “revamp” his yard. In court, he was given 30 days to fix his yard up to HOA standards.
For some a brown lawn is just an eyesore, but for people living in certain HOA’s. A brown lawn can mean arrest or even foreclosure on their home.
In my opinion, he should have hired the pros at GreenPal to sod his lawn.
13. Fined Over a Fence
Christa Colquhoun has a son with autism. She also happens to live in a community that has an HOA.
Christa wanted to protect her son by building a fence around her yard so that her son doesn’t end up running into the street on accident one day. She put in a request to build the fence. Citing that she needed to build it in order to better suit her son’s needs.
60 days of waiting and she still had no response. So what does a concerned mother do in this situation? Build the fence that her son needs. She hired someone to match the fence to a railing on her house and to put it up nicely.
There wasn’t an issue at first until her neighbor started making fun of her child and complaining about the fence. When she filed a report about the inappropriate behavior of her neighbor, Christa ended up getting a letter saying that she would be fined if she didn’t take down the fence!
At the time the story broke, the fines were up to about $600 and climbing.
Christa has said that her local HOA has not contacted her despite most of the board members living right down the street from her. Her homeowner’s association claims that they were unaware of the boy’s autism though the charges seem to be sticking. Which could lead to foreclosure.
14. Fines For Planting Pansies in the Common Area
Jim Lane was a homeowner in the Gilead Ridge subdivision in Huntersville, NC. He went out of his way to plant some pansies in the common garden of his housing development. He thought he might get a thank you letter, yet instead he received was $7,000 in fines from the local HOA.
Things escalated to the point where an HOA board member called the police on Lane saying that he was trespassing in the commons area. Additionally a lien was placed on Lanes home.
A simple act of kindness and trying to be a part of the community ended up resulting in nothing but fines.
15. 20 Year old Landscaping No longer Approved
Imagine designing an amazing landscape and enjoying your forever home.
You were 45 when you installed your landscape, and no one had any issues. But 20 years down the road. You are 65 and the homeowners association decides the HOA wants you to do something different.
Well that is exactly what happened to a man known only as I. A. in Florida. However, according to attorney Ryan Poliakoff the HOA may have waived its rights to have the resident alter his landscape.
Unfortunately it may be a long legal battle for the HOA resident to prove his case.
16. No Pink Playhouses!
One Georgia HOA board took to suing a woman over the color of her daughters playhouse. Becky Rogers-Peck was sued by her home owners association, because she had a pink playhouse in her yard.
The HOA was ok with having a playhouse in the yard, but it just couldn’t be pink. Fortunately, for Becky the charges were dropped after several of her neighbors stepped in and complained to the board.
This is one of those stories that shows that when a community comes together, they can stop a rouge HOA. Atleast sometimes...
17. Fined for Flying the Flag
As if those weren’t crazy enough, one HOA in Killeen, Texas threatened to fine a man for flying the American flag.
Sgt. Chris Link was told originally by the board of his HOA that he could not have a flag pole in his yard. So he removed it and hung the flag from his porch instead.
That still wasn’t good enough for the associations president that told him that if he didn’t get his flag removed, he would have a fine sent out that day.
Shockingly, this isn’t the only time someone has had threats of fines from an HOA for flying an American flag.
One man in Sweetwater, Florida was forced to sell his home after heavy fines were levied against him for flying an American flag in a flower pot!
Bottom Line on HOA Regulations
HOA's are very helpful for maintaining property value, and keeping a community in order. Unfortunately, not all people have everyone's best interest in mind.
When a the wrong person gets on an HOA board, home owner's association regulations can be a tool for harassment!
If you have an HOA story, share your story aloung with this post on social media! We would love to hear your stories!
Best of all, if you need a lawn care professional to help you maintain your HOA regulated lawn and landscape. Look no further than the pros at GreenPal!
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