Buying my house was one of the most exciting purchases I have ever made. I participated in each detail from the color of the carpet, to the design of every backsplash, to the finish on my cabinets, so when I finally got my keys and unlocked the front door for the first time … I was home.
And then I met my HOA.
Apparently the Home Owners Association is kinda like Brussels sprouts, you either hate ‘em or love ‘em. I’ve grown to love Brussels sprouts, the same is not happening with my HOA.
I’ve been living in my home for almost a decade, it’s where I lived with my husband, and it’s now where I live as a happy single mom. It’s where my most treasured memories reside.
I love my neighborhood. I don’t know my neighbors all that much but the “community” is why I moved to the area. It’s safe, clean, and I am not house poor (although I am stuck for a while like most of America, because the equity is all gone.) For the most part, the HOA has been fairly quiet, only enforcing rules of “no RVs on the lawn” and “take down your holiday lights before Labor Day.” I pay my ridiculously high fees on time every month and I keep to myself. So why do I feel under siege by the group elected to protect us?
The HOA is currently on a power trip … against just me. I have recently been the target of a string of harassing letters accusing me of being in violation for a litany of offenses including: leaving my garbage cans out past 5pm, leaving my hose on the spigot, and for having a planter in front of my door. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEGADS! I receive letters constantly telling me that I am in violation of some code in the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions), but when I ask for the section of the CC&Rs that states the offense specifically, there is nothing there. So I ignore the letters and move on.
Apparently, that is the wrong approach to take. I am now embroiled in a heated battle with people whose faces I have never seen but who lurk around the neighborhoods spying and waiting for the exact moment to cite a violation. They leave no note stating they were there; so I have no record of my offensive behavior, therefore with no way to dispute it. I am just left with nasty letters and a bad taste of Brussels sprouts in my mouth.
I went door to door asking if others had received the same notices. Nope. I was the lucky winner. So I am now left to wonder what did I do that was so wrong that I pissed off the HOA? Is it my pink flamingos that are peeking out from my plants? Is my welcome mat unwelcoming? Are my wind chimes out of tune? Or maybe the project manager needs to record a bunch of nuance reports to meet a HOA quota?
Regardless of the reasons … I feel harassed and bullied by the community that I used to be so happy coming home to every day after work. I am frustrated and disappointed that after 10 years of paying into a neighborhood — where I raise my child — that I am treated like a common criminal because I didn’t put my hose away or I because I left the basketball hoop on my driveway (which apparently is considered “common area.”) I want to rectify the situation and I want to clear my tainted slate but the laws pertaining to HOAs and homeowners is so convoluted that I don’t know what my rights are and how to protect myself against being steamrolled. A part of me just wants to pay the fine (that I cannot afford) to be done with it, but I won’t now out of principle.
I am an honest citizen and a good human. But the HOA boogeymen would have you believe that I am a defiant, law-breaking squatter who has no regard for her own home or that of her surroundings (yes, I am being melodramatic but these letters have pushed me over the edge!)
When did the HOA get so powerful and when did homeowners just fall in line?