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Living in an HOA has some plusses, like services, amenities, no rusted out cars in front yards and whatnot, but boy can it be challenging. Before you buy a house in an HOA, read up on the challenges of living with a Home Owners Association and some of the risks and limitations you might face. These insights have me thinking twice about buying in a neighborhood with an HOA.

I love my house.  I really, really do.  I also knew that we were moving into a neighborhood with a home owner's association, but I didn't realize how annoying that really can be!  Ugh.  And I feel silly because I was warned.  My parents have been in a neighborhood with a crazy HOA for years and years where they even had to increase their home insurance rates to stay in compliance with HOA requirements..  All of my friends and family were jealous of our last little subdivision since it was HOA-free.  But none of that prepares you for receiving stupid little letters and wanting to poke someone in the eye…

It's Only Been 4 Months

Yep, we didn't move in until mid-October 2012, so we have only been here for 4 months.  And we've already received 5 letters about deed restriction violations.

  • The first one was because we left one of our vehicles in the street for more than 6 hours.  I called and asked about it.  They said it was mainly to prevent cars from being left in the street overnight.  We don't do that, so the inspector said we were fine…
  • Then it was for having a vehicle that leaked oil (even though we have a drip pan under it).  I told them it had a drip pan and they said it was fine.
  • Then it was for having some weeds in our flower bed in mid-January since winter was not very cold this year.  We got them weeded.
  • Then it was for cleaning up the few oil stains that were caused before the drip pan was brought in.  Our roommate is handling that now.
  • And now they are threatening a $50 fine and lost access to our swimming pool and clubhouse if we keep leaving a car in the street for more than 6 hours.  I have started an email string asking why they are escalating this if the inspector said we were fine more than a month ago.  I also let them know that I am documenting our five main vehicles when they are in the street with time dated pictures to prove that we aren't violating any restrictions at all.

I Hate Bullies

Here is where I am going to vent/whine.  I hate bullies.  I really do think that deed restrictions exist to keep a neighborhood nice, which I support.  But these passive agressive letters are driving me insane.  I also think they are not following the spirit of their rules.

My home is well kept, my lawn is mowed during the warm seasons (early April through the end of October and once or twice during the winter), and we never park up the street to make it unpassable.  We live next to a vacant utility lot and the street is extra wide, so even when we do park a max of two of our own cars on the curb, we aren't slowing down passing traffic at all.  And our cars are all brought into the garage and driveway every evening before bed.  It just doesn't make sense to play Chinese fire drill all day when all of our schedules are so different.  We have 2 college students, 2 self-employed people who run errands, and a 6am-8pm day job worker all balancing their schedules and keeping their cars accessible without affecting anyone else including our neighbors.

What I'm Doing About It

I will be attending the next HOA meeting whether it's on my bowling league night or not.  I also really am documenting our 5 vehicles and stated that any fines or restrictions would be pursued legally since we aren't keeping our vehicles in the street.  I also already asked the management company via email what they would like us to do when we have guests over.  I specifically asked if there was a visitor's lot or something since our get togethers last longer than 6 hours.  Or what we were supposed to do when someone stayed the night since I refuse to make them drive exhausted or drunk.  I'm waiting on their response, which they said should be emailed back to me by today.

Overall, I'm just annoyed and am waiting to hear back.  What would you do?  Have you ever had to handle HOA crud like this? The frustrating thing is we were thinking of doing some improvements to our house and this has kind of distracted from that. Home equity loan interest rates are looking good and we would like to take advantage of that and use the funds to improve certain things about the house.

Update 2/14/13 – Right after this posted on February 13, I received a letter in the mail about my delinquent account (and it showed my balance plus like $30 in fees).  I already spoke to them last week about them sending the original bill to the wrong address – I only received it the evening of February 6 and sent their check in the morning mail of February 7.  So I emailed the actual people I spoke to about that and already received a response this morning that my account has a $0 balance and they apologize the notice was even sent.  Yay!  So I then emailed those two people back directly about my other issues and am waiting to hear back.