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.
The Speed Bumps War
Rented a house in a HOA on private property. It was a large development with 100 + homes, plus apartments in the front.
Every now and then some board members would tool around and hand out fines for dirty driveways and such. Wouldn’t have cared if the President and a board member didn’t live on the same street as me, and their driveways were in massive disrepair. The board member’s son did some work on his truck and there was a massive oil spill, partly covered with a red towel that sat there for 8 months… while a few ‘rust colored’ streaks on our concrete was worthy of a fine.
Then one day the HOA decided to install very aggressive speed bumps. The ones that were there previously were fine… graded to not be too jarring but required you slow down. The only accident that occurred while we were there was the spouse of a HOA board member driving under the influence and plowing into a tree, but there were always notices and mailings for people to slow down as ‘this is not a racetrack.’ I guess they felt adding in a couple of literal asphalt ‘curbs’ in the middle of the street would ‘show people’ who dared to drive over 10 mph on the main road. One of the reasons the HOA got so militant is that apparently there was no way to really enforce the 25 MPH speed limit on the main circle and the 15 MPH on the side streets as the police had no authority to make general stops on private property.
Anyways, the only way over these things without feeling like you were going to break something on your car was to ease up the first side, come to a complete stop, then slowly ease down the drop; once for the front wheels, another for the rear. There was no real issue with crazy speeding though. Maybe one or two people in tuners who would occasionally drive a bit over 30 that I saw while driving, playing with the kids or walking the dog. Almost everyone else kept it to the speed limits, or at least close enough that you didn’t notice. Yet everyone got punished with these monstrosities.
Some people had just taken to driving on the grass around them, so they put up concrete barriers there.
After a few weeks, someone decided to pour diesel fuel on the speed bumps the day before the garbage trucks did their rounds. The Speed bumps got completely destroyed (diesel ‘melts’ asphalt – it makes it really soft, and and when the trucks ran over it it carved treads through them).
The HOA reinstalled the bumps, and somehow made them even more aggressive… and a week later, Captain Diesel struck again.
They yanked them out again, and just paved over the holes. It was beautiful.
They did end up installing speed bumps a few months later, but they went with the stock plastic ones that bolt to the street. Which was much more preferable to the man-made Cliffs of Dover that were there previously.”
A Victory For The Little Guy
“I helped a customer stand up to their HOA and win.
I worked as a team supervisor for DirecTV at this time. Most of my duties were administrative, but if anyone on my team had an escalated call (supervisor requested) then those were my job too.
One of my agents got a call and from what he told me, the customer immediately requested a supervisor, that he needed someone with more authority than a front-line service rep.
I take the call and the guy is frantic and asking me for help. He’d been going rounds with his HOA over the placement of his satellite dish. As it turned out, due to various obstructions, the only way his dish could be installed and maintain a quality signal was to be was pole-mounted. So it’s on a pole in his side yard instead of on the roof/side of the house.
The HOA had deemed that a violation and fined him. They then threatened further proceedings against him when he refused to pay, something about violation of the HOA covenant agreement or some such nonsense like that.
They had shown up this day to further the issue and he decided to call us and see if there was anything we could do. Oh yes, there was.
I asked if I could speak to the HOA rep that was in his home and he was more than pleased to let me handle it. After introducing myself and whatnot, I inform the HOA rep that it is a violation of federal law to deny the homeowner the placement of their dish if that is the only place it could be installed to get a high quality signal.
The HOA rep instantly starts trying to tell me what’s what when I just rattled off ‘Over the Air Reception Devices Rule’ of the Telecommunications Act 1996.
‘The OTARD Rule. It’s a part of the act I just named that explicitly forbids the restriction of placement of a signal reception device if that is the only feasible installation option. In short, you can’t make him remove it and if you force it he has options.’
I couldn’t literally say he could take them to court since I’m not one of the corporate lawyers, but the point was made clear enough.
He just handed the phone back to my customer and left the house. The customer was so freaking excited. ‘You have no idea how much of a hassle this has been, fighting with them over this for months! The threats of fines, etc. Thank you so much!’
A victory for the little guy. Forget HOAs and their power-tripping little sycophants.”
When Taking Photos Of The Deed Wasn’t Enough, They Turned To Drastic Measures
“We live in a condo and began receiving $100 fines for not picking up dog poop. The area behind our building is a common area and lots of people walk their dogs around. I offered to submit DNA testing for my dogs and they ignored me and continued to send notices of fines.
I began taking my phone with me on every walk and took photos and videos of me picking up poop with timestamp evidence. I sent a folder full of photos to the HOA with photographic evidence that I was picking up after my dogs.
We continued to receive fines. I got a small trash can and kept on my patio and began saving my bags of dog poop for two weeks. I did tie the bags but they were still obviously smelly as poop bags are very thin plastic. I then mailed a box of poop to the HOA office along with copies of the timestamped photos showing I had picked it up. I told them that I had better not ever receive another fine for dog poop because I had provided more than sufficient evidence that it wasn’t us. Miraculously, the fines stopped and we haven’t received any for over 2 years.”
“I lived in a neighborhood with a park in the center, located directly behind my back fence. The entire neighborhood was managed by the same HOA company, but the neighborhood was officially set up as two different HOA communities. Even though it was on the other side of my fence, the park was designated as part of the community I was not in.
On multiple occasions, the irrigation system in the park broke and completely flooded my backyard. Three or four times over a span of a few months, I woke up to literally a foot and a half of water. Over time, my brick fire pit literally sank into the ground an entire layer of brick, water came into my kitchen on two of the occasions, and every time my home’s foundation looked weaker and weaker after clean up.
I called to complain to the HOA each time. The flooding almost always happened on a weekend, and it wouldn’t be until Monday that they came out, leaving my home flooded for a minimum of two days each time.
After the third or fourth complaint, I finally reported them to the BBB and the Water Authority, and I sent a video to the local news. The next business day the head of the HOA company called me furious. Despite all the pictures and videos I’d sent, she said she was convinced I was making it all up. When I pressed her why she thought that, she specifically said it was because ‘The park can’t be flooding your house, it’s not even part of the same HOA community you live in!’
It Lives Up To Stereotype
“We’ve only been part of an HOA for the last few months, and it’s already living up to every stereotype I ever had in my head.
They held our once-annual meeting with very little notice, and like 6 people showed up. They elected a new ‘association’ and immediately decided to spend $700 on dog poop receptacles, even though like 4 people have dogs, and the whole neighborhood is one street.
This sparked an incredible amount of drama. One guy on the HOA decided he was going to get super defensive when people started questioning this decision, and it quickly devolved into him just taunting people on Facebook because he was on the board and they weren’t, and if they didn’t like his authority, they should change the by-laws. Then someone left a bunch of dog poop on his driveway. Then he resigned from the HOA. No word on the dog poop receptacles.
This has all happened in the past 3 days.”
Taking The Job To A Whole New Level
“I worked from home full time when I lived in a condo with a pain in the butt HOA. I caught an HOA member opening our patio door and looking inside our condo. I then later caught him on our patio ‘inspecting’ 3 small plants we kept outside during the day and brought in at night.
Our patio had a 4-ft high brick wall all the way around it, there was no entrance/exit. That guy climbed over the fence, then opened the screen door when I caught him. His ridiculous excuse was he wanted to make sure we didn’t leave the sliding door open with nobody home and that it was security risk.
I told him that their jurisdiction ended at the wall and if we wanted to leave for a week with all our windows and doors open it was our freaking business.
The second time I caught him I told him I was calling the cops and having him arrested for trespassing if I ever saw him on my property again.
Of course, 2 weeks later we got fined for the plants and later got fined for some other petty things.”
HOA Or Total Scam?
“Two days before I bought a condo, I was told that I would be blocked from moving in unless I paid the first month’s HOA dues. So the morning of the closing, I went to the management company’s office and dropped off a check. I moved in without issue and then continued to pay my dues on time each month. Four years later, I got an invoice for $800+.
Apparently, they never cashed that first check. So when I paid the next month, they credited it toward my first month and assessed a late fee. This continued for 4 years where every month’s check was credited to the previous month. I got in a huge argument with the accounting office and they wouldn’t budge on the $800+ in ‘late fees.’ I was irate.”
Beyond Messed Up
“The city I grew up in was briefly in national news because a HOA was trying to force an elderly couple to give their only grandchild up for adoption after her parents were killed in a traffic accident. The little girl had no other living family and had watched her parents die, but the HOA wanted her gone because it was a ‘retirement community’ and told them to give her up or be homeless. The grandparents finally just sold their house and moved. A whole block of other people bullying grieving parents and their five year old grandkid probably got to them.”
An Eye For An Eye
“There was a war between two of my neighbors.
You see, we had regulations as to what kind of trees you could have. Someone had planted these beautiful cherry blossom trees and lovingly cultivated them from saplings, but got told repeatedly that they were against HOA policy. The homeowner told the president to go eff himself (this is not an exaggeration, according to what I heard, the guy literally said ‘go eff yourself’), and left. The HOA president snuck over to the guy’s house and cut down the trees at night.
So the homeowner, rather than filing a suit, decided to do the same thing. He went to the HOA president’s house and cut down his trees. Again, rather than calling the cops, the HOA president decided to start hacking up his bushes in the middle of the day.
We moved before this somehow concluded itself, but man, upper middle class, middle aged white people are weird.”
Their Plan Backfired Big Time
“My parents owned about 30 acres of land in the middle of nowhere Nebraska on the outskirts of town. My parents built their house in the late ’80s and that’s where I’ve lived my whole life. My parents passed away and I inherited the property and it’s all my land…or was my land. Back in 2005, this developer bought up a bunch of neighboring land and wanted to buy my land. I told him I was willing to sell 10 acres furthest from the house (the adjoining section to his neighborhood). He asked for 20 acres and I told him that the 2nd 10 acres would be 3x the price and he agreed and we signed the paperwork and he bought the land and I was paid for it. End of story, or so I thought.
The land sat empty for over a decade since it took awhile for him to sell the plots of land he made to home buyers and his company built houses. From about 2005 to 2012, the land sat empty and I didn’t mind, I still mowed the grass and what not to keep it tidy, but never tried to take the land over or anything.
By fall of last year he had finished the entire area and there’s about 200 homes in that neighborhood, unfortunately, they formed a HOA. Because of the neighborhood my 10 acres is now worth about 10-20x what it was originally worth and the HOA knows that.
Since the September of 2017, I’ve had a bunch of angry letters and citations left on my property and in my mailbox. Some of them include:
-‘Having a barn larger than 7×7 feet’
-‘Having abandoned vehicles on my property’ (it’s a project car shell that I’m working on)
-‘Having a non-conforming mailbox’ (still no idea what this is)
-‘Having the improper roof tiles’ (again, no idea)
I ignored them and told the HOA members that I’m not part of their neighborhood and therefore have no reason to follow their ridiculous rules. The HOA says since my property values have gone up, I owe back dues from the date I sold my land (BEFORE there was even a single house built) and have to correct everything on the list.
The back dues were over $10,000, plus from all the fines it would have cost me about $15,000-$20,000 to ‘fix’ my house. They said to either pay up or they will put a lien on my property and take it over. I went straight to my lawyer and we sent a HOA a cease and desist letter saying to stop contacting me unless they have actual signed documents that show I was part of a HOA. They never got back to me. I went out of town after that and came back to my mailbox missing. It was cut clear off the post with a chainsaw (wooden post with a metal mailbox on top). I repurchased an identical mailbox and set up cameras all over the property.
My lawyer also uncovered something interesting. Turns out that the HOA wants to put in ANOTHER community playground and a pool/clubhouse and they need land! They can’t expand in any other direction since they’re almost on the end of a highway on one side and the other sides are zoned for agriculture, so they decided they’d try to take over my land. Basically, they were trying to force me into the HOA to make them sell my land below market value.
I went away for the holidays and I came back to find my project car was towed out of my driveway, my pond was emptied out and filled with gravel and sand and a fenced off 2 acres of my property closest to HOA. I immediately called the police and filed a report regarding the stolen property. The car was just an empty shell, so it’s not worth a lot (maybe $2,500?) but it’s the principle of that prick president of the HOA. It had been 2 weeks since we sent the C&D and they didn’t contact me in any way except this. I hired a local salvage company to come tear up the fence and they did it free of charge since I let them keep the fence to sell as scrap metal or whatever they do with it. My lawyer also suggested I send a letter demanding payment to fix my pond as it was filled in with gravel and sand. A local landscape company quoted me nearly $8,000 to get the pond back to the way it was.
So the HOA board got a lawyer to respond to my C&D and they requested a meeting ASAP with my lawyer present as well. I didn’t want to go but my lawyer suggested me hear them out at at least. At the meeting, I noticed their president and some of the higher ups were not there.
The board had no idea what was happening and their lawyer was just as confused as them. After I laid out my timeline of events they thanked me for my time accepted all the financial burden of replenishing my pond, missing car (couldn’t locate it), and damages.
I got checks for everything and got my pond restored and I didn’t really think much of it.
I found out later from the new HOA president that it turns out the old president, treasurer and someone else had been stealing money from the coffers. They wanted my land to expand and put in a pool, clubhouse and etc just as I saw on their website. The old board fined everyone a ton of money to get all the cash together and buy my land. Instead they spent it on themselves. They needed my land somehow so they thought they could just take over the land I wasn’t using.
Long story short, their entire plan fell apart after I fought back and brought to the other members of the HOA attention what they were doing. From what I’ve been told, they had to sell their house to pay back the HOA and have since moved away. The HOA has offered me market value for my land and I do plan on selling since I really don’t use the land for anything and the money isn’t bad.”
Going From Bad To Worse
“I drive a 2016 Nissan GTR. It was towed from my driveway. A neighbour had my vehicle accidentally towed (she said a blue Nissan, the idiot tow driver ignored the illegally parked Altima and took my car). Anyway, for those who aren’t car people, the GTR has a rather bespoke all wheel drive system and if not towed properly, it can cause damage to the drivetrain.
I picked the car up and the diff has been grenaded. Even worse, I called Nissan up and they said if you tow the car improperly, you void the warranty. I was looking at a multi thousand dollar repair bill.
I went to the tow company and they told me to take it up with the HOA, as they’re the ones who have contracted the towing company. The HOA told me to go after the towing company. Great.
A day or 2 after this happened, I started getting written up by the HOA for random things like my grass being too tall, despite the fact that I pay the optional fee for it to be maintained, my house being the wrong color, despite the fact that it’s been this color since I bought it, etc etc.
I asked around and the towing company responsible is OWNED BY A MEMBER OF THE HOA BOARD. How that is even legal, I have no idea. Ever since word got out that I might be suing the towing company (thank you, gossiping neighbors), I’ve been facing complaint after complaint from the HOA.
The car ended up needing a transmission among other things. Rather than get it repaired, I sold it to a guy who wanted to tear it down, turbo the heck out of it and use it for drag racing. I ended up using the funds to put a downpayment on a 911 fund so that turned out alright.
As for the HOA, there was an election held and the old members of the HOA were voted out and things had calmed down a fair bit. The harassment and all that has stopped, thankfully.
Thinking things were going back to normal, I was excited to move on and focus on my upcoming marriage. The wife and I went to the Caribbean for our honeymoon and while we were gone, the guy who owned the tow truck company and his son broke into my house and trashed the place.
Thankfully, we have security cameras that caught them breaking in and they’ve been arrested and are awaiting trial so….that got way out of hand.”
There Were Guards, Then There Was Postal
“We moved about 18 years ago and ever since the beginning we’ve had issues with parents dropping off underage (under 16, that is) kids with no supervision at our community pool for hours at a time. We’ve had issues with theft, vandalism and non-residents using the pool because for the first ten years or so, the gate had a keypad which you had to input a number onto and people were just giving out the number to anybody and everybody. And for the first couple of years (until the HOA caught on at least), we also had a public phone that could call anywhere, free of charge. People were using it to call long-distance to Mexico and South America. When the HOA figured THAT out, they removed the phone and replaced it with one that can ONLY dial 9-1-1. About 8 years ago, they also replaced the keypad lock with one that you have to scan a card to get in.
Around the time they switched to the key card, they also started hiring security guards (NOT lifeguards) to keep an eye on things, which has been an up and down situation. We’ve had good guards and we’ve had meh guards and then we had Postal (which was short for I’m Could Go Postal At Any Minute, which is something some of the residents tagged the guy with).
Postal was a bad guard. Spectacularly bad. He would stop you at the gate and monologue at you, then get mad when you politely excused yourself and walked away. He got mad at me and my son on several occasions when we got up to drink from the water fountain, going on a rant about how the water was dirty, not fit for human consumption, going to make us sick, etc. It’s not the BEST tasting water but it’s not dangerous.
Postal also had a horrible habit of stalking around the parking area (all of about 6, maybe 10 spots total) and peering into the cars parked there to see what was inside. I got the feeling he was looking for something or maybe checking to see if they were unlocked for some reason. It creeped me out.
He would get upset over things that were none of his business to get upset over. A friend of mine was at the pool with her daughters when another kid accidentally hit her in the head with a wet NERF football. Postal decided it was HIS job (it was not) to yell at the kid whose football it was, screaming in the kid’s face and freaking him out.
Postal would go up to kids at the park (next door to the pool) and monologue at them, which made them and their parents uncomfortable.
I heard that one night, he was there and there were some teenage girls goofing around on somebody’s phone, taking video or something. He became enraged, thinking they were taping HIM (they weren’t) and threatened to grab HIS phone and start taping THEM. His reaction freaked them out and they left.
At the Labor Day pool party (hosted by the HOA) I went up to a board member and told him I’d caught Postal staring into my car AGAIN and it had made me really uncomfortable. Postal overheard me talking to the board member and sat for the rest of the party in his car sulking. Meanwhile, the board member proceeded to yell in my face about how I’d ruined everything. Me and all my complaints. While I had emailed the board about two dozen times over the course of May through Labor Day, I wasn’t the only one. There were probably a dozen residents (maybe more) who had been complaining about Postal’s behavior over the summer. I thought that he’d be fired and that would be the end of it.
The next summer, he had returned, however. The explanation I was given was that all the complaints had triggered his PTSD and because of that, the board not only felt compelled to hire him again but also to pay for his therapy bills.
The dude was honestly a nightmare and had no business being a security guard ANYWHERE.”
Waking Up To Havoc
“Our HOA decided to resurface the roads, one half at a time. All of the roads in our subdivision are fire lanes, so you typically can’t park on them. People asked in the FB group if they could make an exception for this once and let them park in the fire lanes on the other side of the subdivision because otherwise you’d be trapped in your driveway until the asphalt dried.
They insisted we could just park outside of our gated community. This wasn’t making a lot of people happy because the neighborhood outside of our gated community is uh…pretty rough. Finally they resurfaced the roads and people went ahead and parked outside the gate. The next morning they woke up to:
-general vandalization of cars including keying, dents, etc.
-half of the cars spray painted
-almost every car broken into
One couple brought the HOA to court over this and won. The cherry on top is that one of the HOA members had a pest control truck parked in the fire lane outside of their house for hours not one week after this incident. When she was called out on it in the FB group she lashed out at people for ‘stalking her’ and telling everyone where she lived.”