Home Owners Associations, or HOAs, are usually handy for making sure all the neighbors on the block keep up their yards and bring in their trash cans on time. It's when they step outside those bounds that HOAs become a nuisance. When power-hungry, but utterly ineffective, people are in charge, they can single-handedly lower a neighborhood's morale.
People living under dictatorial HOAs went to Reddit to vent their frustrations and we gathered the most ridiculous, outlandish, and totally out of control stories we could find. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My at-the-time girlfriend (now wife) rented a townhouse with friends in a community that had an HOA. There was parking spots reserved for guests of the tenants. Ironically, parking was always an issue for my wife and her roommates but always simple for me - I just popped on the visitor's pass and was good to go in that lot.
I spent the night probably once or twice a week, and one day I awoke to find my car missing. After some ace detective work, I found out that my 10-year-old (at the time), 5-speed manual transition Honda had not been stolen, but just towed. When I reached out to the HOA, they told me that there was a provision in the bylaws that said a car could only be parked in a visitor's spot for a maximum of 72 hours and that a board member submitted my car to a list of cars to be towed due to 'abusing' a visitor's pass.
They argued the language in the bylaws was such that the total amount of time that a car may be parked in the visitor's lot was 72 hours, non-consecutively (i.e., if you park there once a week for 10 hours each week, on the 8th week we are in violation of the policy). This in opposition to the clear purpose of the provision, which is to prevent people from storing their cars in the lot. They summarily denied my request at the next HOA meeting to recover the $150 towing fee.
Long story short, I sued them in small claims court and got back the towing fee plus court costs (plus, they engaged a lawyer, so I feel good about wasting some of their retainer as well)."
"Back when I was renting my townhouse, I got a letter from the Board claiming that my dog had dug up my yard and damaged my fence, and that I would have to repair it. Initially I replied with a note that said, 'Hey, I think you have the wrong place since my yard is perfectly fine and I don't own a dog.'
I thought everything was good. Then the owners of the house got a phone call from the board that my dog had damaged the yard. After assuring them that their property was not damaged and I still don't have a dog, they called the board back and said there was a mistake. I also sent another message to the board that they had the wrong unit. I foolishly thought this meant the matter was closed.
Then a couple weeks later, I got a notice that I was being fined for having a damaged fence, an unsightly yard and that I'd be getting a bill for the repairs.
My reply was:
'I have been informed that you are issuing a fine due to the nonexistent damage to my fence caused by my nonexistent dog. Please find attached your nonexistent payment.
I have repeatedly informed you that this notice was issued in error. As the attached photos of my yard indicate, there is no damage to my yard or fence. I have also repeatedly informed you that I do not own a dog. Perhaps this misunderstanding is due to the fact that I own a cat. Please see attached photos of my cat, and some typical dogs to aid you in being able to tell the difference.
Until such time as I receive notice for something that actually pertains to my unit, I will assume that I am in compliance with the board bylaws.'
They dropped it after that. I did get a notice about my grass being too long shortly afterward though.
About a month later, a professional management company was brought in to take over a lot of what the board did and the crap subsided."
"I would sit in my yard with my dog between 4 and 6 pm every Friday for 3 months.
Because the HOA would measure my grass every freaking Friday. My lawn guy was the best and I refused to switch. However, he could only come on Saturday. HOA let us choose which day we inspected. Everyone voted for Saturdays. They secretly vetoed it and came Fridays but CLAIMED it was Saturday they were coming. To prove this, I sat with my dog every Friday waiting for him. He would park, wait a while, then go to another street and measure there. My street was the only one who didn’t receive fines for breaking the agreement. It became a party when everyone figured out what I was doing.
People would cook out in the front and we would all go throw on coals and food as needed. I got reported for something or other after the 3 month marker, so I brought my supercut 3 months of time stamped videos and submitted them to the HOA distribution list before I went to meet with them. There were 40/50 people there because we had organized a day to go and air grievances. It was maybe the best time I ever spent with any HOA.
Seriously though, that HOA was nuts. If you are non-white, people will file complaints against you more often than usual and the HOA will come out to inspect.
I’ve had complaints about a broken down car in my driveway...I was changing my oil and it took me an hour.
I’ve had noise complaints when nobody was home. Literally even the dog was on vacation.
Pool cover came off one day...cops were called about exposed pool of water and unmaintained pool. Nobody knocked on my door. I noticed the day after and fastened it back and there was already a citation in my mailbox.
Three places that I have lived I have had to ask the police to start filing harassment complaints against people who keep doing this kind of thing. Someone reported me for being Muslim and burning crosses...I am Mexican and atheist...never owned a cross since moving away from home. Also had to confirm with police whether being Muslim was a crime because it WAS what he wrote on the citation."
"My mother-in-law was fighting stage 4 ovarian cancer a few years ago. Obviously, we had no desire to take down our Christmas lights. We were constantly visiting the hospital, it was very touch and go. On top of that we had a child under 1. It was a very emotional time.
HOA compliance officer constantly would stop at our house at all hours of the day. We had security cameras so finally after reviewing the footage we called the guard shack to see what the emergency was.
We were told that Christmas has been over for 3 weeks and we need to have our lights down before the end of the month or he would fine us $25 a day for the first week, then $50 each day after that. We explained the situation, and the guy said well it’s not my problem, take your lights down.
My wife exploded on the guy. Went to the next board meeting and let loose on the board and general manager. Turns out it wasn’t a HOA policy. The guy worked for the security company that was hired to work the main entrance guard shack, and would get a bonus if he would patrol and hand out fines for HOA violations.
This prick would just drive around and make up his own rules and fines and by the next meeting was fired, and a new security company was hired when the contract was up in the summer.
Everything worked out in the end, and my mother-in-law has been cancer free for over a year. I have light show icicle lights on my home now. They have settings for different holidays. Just to spite them now I leave them up and turn them on for various holidays: Valentines Day, Easter, 4th of July. HOA hasn’t said a word."
"Was moving to a different city and crashed at my dad's townhouse for a few months to save money for the move. One day a guy showed up to install a satellite dish that my dad ordered.
My dad isn't the type of guy to pay very close attention to HOA rules, and apparently missed a brand new (and HIGHLY contentious) rule that satellite dishes were 'eyesores' and no longer allowed. So just as the installer guy is getting up to the roof, this couple (head of the HOA) comes SPRINTING from their townhouse across the street to shut it down, screaming bloody murder.
I had absolutely no issue with not getting a satellite dish, it wasn't even my house, but these two HOA thugs were absolutely awful. The wife was just hurling insults at the installer guy and I, and the husband immediately started climbing the ladder up onto the roof to 'kick the crap' out of the installer guy. None of this was provoked at all, it just went from 0-100mph in no time flat and this couple was out of control.
Well, the installer guy eventually had enough of having racist insults hurled at him and came down the ladder and started a full-on brawl with the husband in my dad's driveway. The wife was screaming at the top of her lungs at me, even though my only contribution to this whole fiasco was to answer a door and let a guy on the roof. I still vividly remember being absolutely dumbfounded watching these two grown men beat the crap out of each other while I tried to communicate to my dad on the phone over the shrill sounds of some strange woman absolutely berating me for 'ruining the neighborhood.'
It was wild.
The wife eventually pulled her husband away from the installer guy, who angrily took his ladder down and launched it into his van and sped off. The couple had a few more choice words for me and then went back across the street. I just stood there flabbergasted. I couldn't believe anybody would react to a situation like they did, instead of just explaining to me like adults why I couldn't have the dish installed.
Told my dad the whole story that night about how his failure to comply to HOA rules got me in the middle of a street brawl and he had a good long laugh about it. My dad didn't even care that much about the rule, he just thought it might be cool to have a dish. Never thought anyone would be so massively offended by it and wasn't worth the battle to fight back."
"My best friend, Steve, grew up in suburban Arizona. His family owned their home and rarely had problems with their HOA other than it being generally Fascist.
It all started with some cardboard boxes. Steve and his sister, at the ripe age of around 6 or 7, wanted to make a fort in their front yard. Their dad, being the great guy he was, helped them build a little cardboard box fort for them to play in. Being kids, they played in the fort for a couple hours and proceeded to get distracted elsewhere. Not a day later they received posted notices on the door and phone calls informing them they need to clean the 'unsightly' garbage out of their yard or be faced with fines. It wasn't a huge deal, but left the family a bit jaded towards the HOA.
Fast forward a handful of years later, Steve's dad decides he wants to paint the house. Now if you don't know, most HOAs have strict rules on the color and send templates for you to pick off of. He said the templates ranged from tan to slightly different tan. Steve's dad finds a color he likes that's more of a greenish tan and paints the whole house. The HOA proceeds to have a meltdown because they painted their house outside of the allowed color spectrum. Steve's dad says no way, it's basically the same color, I'm not repainting my entire house. So the HOA hires a contractor to come down with a paint color tester and posts notices on their door with a detailed analysis of how his color is yucca tan and doesn't fit the spectrum and if they don't repaint by the end of the month they will be fined.
Instead of folding, Steve's mom finds out when the next meeting is and discovers no one votes, the same dude as been president of the HOA for way too long, and there is some shady stuff going on in terms of contracting.
So she walks around the neighborhood the next few weeks 'campaigning' and runs. She wins by a landslide. Largest turnout for an HOA meeting since its inception. Apparently everyone was also sick and tired of the crap but just bent over.
So Steve's mom is elected president and discovers that the previous regime was doing the ole 'Im gonna hook-up my son-in-law by contracting his company and pay him stupid amounts of money to water the sand' crap. She quickly ends all that. Then, rather than change any rules other than a few stupid ones, she just decided to refuse to enforce any of them.
Steve's mom goes years as president. Recently she decided forget it and didn't show up to the election and someone else got elected. Now the new guy is trying to enforce the old rules, but everyone is so use to the freedom there is a war going on."
"My dad was telling me a story about their HOA. A homeowner in their neighborhood passed away, and hadn't yet paid their HOA dues for the month. AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE, the HOA president approached the mourning family and asked what their plans were for paying the back dues, and for paying any dues until the house was sold. Simply amazing."
"My roof started leaking in multiple locations throughout the house. Called HOA because they are responsible for outside building maintenance.
HOA: 'Sorry can't fix it right now.'
Me: 'Fine I'll hire someone to fix it and bill you.'
HOA: 'We will sue you if you even think about touching that roof.'
Me: 'What am I even giving money for then?'
Months later at HOA yearly meeting
HOA: 'Yeah... so we've been audited and if we don't come up with a certain amount of money by next year we are probably going to be unable to do any sort of maintenance in the future.'
Me and other owners: 'You don't do any sort of maintenance to begin with.'
HOA: 'Anyway you can either all give us $40,000 right now or for the next two years we're going to charge you $1600-ish more a month. Also don't pay attention to the 20% of the expenses in the report that the auditors put in the unknown category, we don't have any receipts for any of those expenses so we don't know where that money went. We blame the maintenance company so we're just going to fire them and start fresh with a new, cheaper one.'
All Owners who aren't on the HOA: 'When are you jerks going to fix the roofs on our houses?'
HOA: 'Someday, maybe, I mean we don't have a problem with our roofs so we don't really see what you're all complaining about. Right now we really need to fix our reserve budget crisis that we totally didn't cause by misappropriating funds to make improvements to our houses.
Nearly everyone had leaky roofs but not the HOA members though. It was a group of stacked townhouses so my roof was another dude's backyard and I had a real backyard. When they finally got things fixed it was clear the people they had hired in the past were always the cheapest of the cheap because the jobs had been shoddily done. Plus they had managed to completely block up the drainage system on several of the top units so whenever snow melted or there was a heavy rainfall, I would get leaks and my upstairs neighbor would have a swimming pool for a backyard.
After all that I had to get a loan and tear down/renovate the whole thing... so much mold...
After that I sold the place, was either that or set fire to the entire thing."
"A HOA was established in my neighborhood a few years ago. 3 people volunteered for the board. One of the women on the board had a thing against birds. She passed a rule saying that nobody was allowed to have bird feeders citing they were destructive and an eyesore to the community. I didn’t have a bird feeder but I went and bought one just to see what happen. Installed it dead center of my front yard. Got a $25 fine in the mail 2 days later. I laughed at put it on the fridge. 2 days later...got another one. As this was happening more and more people were putting bird feeders on the front yards....just to see if anything would really happen. Nobody planned on paying any of the fines from the neighbors that I talked to. A couple weeks went by and one Saturday morning my neighbor called me at about 7am telling me to come outside and look down the street. There were at least a hundred birds on the woman’s property that passed the rule against the bird feeders. There was a police officer on scene trying to figure out what to do. Apparently somebody covered this lady’s property in bird seed overnight....like a lot of bird seed. Eventually they brought a K-9 unit to chase them off...but they kept coming back because of the seeds. Eventually the birds did leave and this woman’s house was COVERED in bird poo. You couldn’t walk on the property without stepping in it.
The next day the woman resigned from the HOA and it was dismantled shortly after that. Nobody ever paid any of the fines."
"When my family moved away from my family's ranch we went to a trailer park for a while then into an actual house and we wound up in a neighborhood that had an HOA. My dad refused to sign their contract because he is red-blooded, American, redneck. Everything was good until they tried to tell him how to manage his household. This happened in a place where you actually aren't obligated to obey the HOA unless they have you on contract. We infuriated them because we refused to pay dues. This prompted the HOA President to do everything they could to make us decide paying the dues was easier than dealing with their crap.
They told him that we couldn't keep our cars in our driveway, they had to be in the garage. The problem is, we had my dad's car, mom's car, my car, and the work truck but only a 2 car garage. But my father is a patient and accommodating man. So we moved our cars to the street. They tried to get onto him for that, so we parked in the front yard. They then tried to come at him with the contract and tell him to sell 2 of the vehicles. His response: 'I ain't signed crap! Get off my property!' And thus the war between the HOA and House Playpen began.
My mom wanted a garden like we had back at the ranch, so my dad grabbed my brother and I and we went to home depot to get supplies. We come back and start doing the prep-work and some guy comes up and asks what we're doing. 'Building a garden. I'm gonna put some raised boxes up with some shelves over by the door and line the rest of the front with flowerbeds. What d'you think?' The guy says he thinks it sounds alright and walks away and we get to work. 15 minutes later my mom comes out and says she had the HOA President on the line, dad tells her to tell the president to get lost. Next they come over to tell him he has to have landscaping projects approved by the HOA. After a short argument my dad reverts to his military personality and yells 'GET OFF MY PROPERTY!' At which point Mr. HOA chose not to press the issue.
We had lived there about 8 months and other things had happened but this was the first time they called the police. We were packing up to go hunting. It was a Friday evening, and we moving back and forth from the house bringing all our gear and supplies. As we're going over the checklist one last time just to make sure, a police car pulls up and tells my dad they got a call about armed men robbing a house. My dad explains the situation and the officer goes to get in his car and leave when this lady (who turns out to be the HOA President's wife, they lived down the street a ways) comes out and asks the officer why he isn't doing anything. She insists that he can't just let us carry weapons around. She gets more and more upset as the officer explains that the weapons are safely stored for transport, it's our private residence so we actually can carry them, and my father is licensed to carry anyways. At this point she is starting death glares at my dad who tells her 'Linda, you are trespassing right now and if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: stay off my property.' At which point the police officer told us all to calm down, and sent Mrs. HOA back home and us on our way.
A few more months go by, we've been there about a year and we're remodeling about half the house over the summer. They have called the police on us for nothing enough times that the police are actually on our side. We were working on a bathroom and pulled the toilet out and put it by the curb with the trash. The trash collectors came and took everything but the toilet. Fair is fair, it was definitely over the weight limit. We call the city and ask how to get rid of it and basically we have to take it to the dump ourselves. We figure we'll get it when we take the copper and tile and get back to work. About an hour later there's a knock on the door. Dad opens it to none other than Mr. and Mrs. HOA. They tell us we can't leave the toilet on the street. My dad tells them he understands, he'll move it when we're done working for the day. This is not good enough. They demand we move the toilet THIS INSTANT! 'Okay' my dad says, and then has me help him move the toilet.... and position it as the centerpiece of our yard. He told them the toilet would stay there as long as he liked. This time there was no yelling, not even a command to get off his property. Only my 6'4" bearded, construction worker father, laughing his butt off at these two as they lost their minds. When they left, he made an 'out of order' sign for the toilet, took us for ice cream and we were done working for the day.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!! A few days later, I wake up to police sirens on the street. I get up and walk outside in my PJ's to see what's going on. And I saw a sight that brings a smile to my face to this day. The police arresting Mr. and Mrs. HOA for attempted theft of a toilet as my father, clad in dog tags, combat boots, boxers, and a bathrobe stolen from Motel 6 smokes and laughs from atop his porcelain throne."
"During grad school I rented a house with a couple of other people. We had one neighbor house that had a few guys that lived there. All cool people, rock climbers, built a rock wall in their garage, etc.
ANYWAY... miss witch (as she shall be named) that owned my neighbor's house (but not my house) didn't like that I placed my trash can on the RIGHT side of my driveway instead of the LEFT side. She came over a half dozen times (why she was around so much I have no idea) and knocked on my door to yell at me, to which I told her to step off and mind her own business. She did not live there, or even in the same plan.
Now, there was technically something in the HOA agreement about trash can placement. It said as follows, and I quote (from memory):
'Trash cans shall be placed in the designated area and shall not be placed on the doorstep or within 5 feet of the door.'
The 'designated area' was never defined elsewhere in the agreement, yes... I checked... multiple times. My front door was closer to the right hand side of my driveway (but more than 5 feet away), so logically I wanted to place the trash can there. And the left side of the driveway was covered by a bunch of low lying branches from a few nearby trees, so it'd be annoying to wade through that to get to the trash can. And people all throughout the neighborhood had their trash cans on various sides of the driveway.
Anyway, this went on for MONTHS. She'd even MOVE my own trash can to which I told her if she came on our property again I'd call the police. I'd always move it back to the right side of the driveway, eventually just to spite her. It infuriated her SO much. She claimed it 'bothered the neighbors' to which I IMMEDIATELY called bull since a) I knew the neighbors and b) was friends with said neighbors and asked them 'Hey does it bother you that my trash can is there?' To which their response was, 'Why are you asking me that? Of course not.'
Now, for reference, I knew for a fact her tenants (my friends) were breaking quite a few HOA laws, including a few about not keeping dirt bikes or quads inside the garage (they had a ton), but she didn't seem to care about it, just MY TRASH CAN.
Anyway, eventually, like 6 months later (hilarious right?) I got a letter from the HOA saying I owed a $10 fine. To which I laughed at and threw away (in said trash can).
She sold the property the next month. Stupid witch, that property was a goldmine."