The Land of The Free?
They call America “the land of the free” but that’s not always true if you live in an HOA. For the uninitiated, HOA is short for Homeowners Association. They can range anywhere from alright, to naggingly annoying to just downright tyrannical. We’re talking folks measuring your grass, policing your parking spaces, issuing you fines for having the wrong colored mailbox. The list goes on and on.
Being red-blooded Americans, a lot of people living in the suburbs often take great offense to these things, and often times the people doing the nagging are folks on power trips. Most people give in to the demands of these power-hungry people but there are some homeowners who beg to differ and are willing to make a stand. Who are these folks? Are they heroes? Patriots even? Nay, just some ticked-off folks who want to be left alone, and for that we commend them.
Here is the story of a guy named “Alan.” A normal man who inherited a house from his grandparents in a seemingly nice neighborhood. Sure, the white picket fences were innocent enough, but Alan had unwittingly stumbled into a crooked pack of power-hungry HOA mobsters. Everybody wants to get along with their neighbors, but the pricks at the HOA already had poor Alan in their sights. It will be a battle for the ages; one of honor, major annoyance, and plenty of legal fees, but in the end, Alan is going to bleed those crooks dry.
Welcome To The Neighborhood
So this story started about six years ago. Alan was shocked one day by the sad news his grandfather had died peacefully in his sleep. As funeral preparations were made, there was the upcoming conversation of wills and inheritances. Alan’s grandfather, being a generous man, had left him with his very own home; the same place he used to spend his summers as a boy. It was a special symbol of his grandfather’s love.
Overnight, Alan had become a homeowner. Though some folks would’ve sold the house, Alan was very sentimental about the old home; he decided to move in. The house was in a sleepy neighborhood Alan was always fond of as a boy. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the first week there was nice until he was woken up by a loud knock on his door. There on his doorstep were three old men in polos and cargo shorts. Their names were “Bob,” “Lewis,” and “Tom”; Bob seemed to be the guy calling the shots.
“Hello, friend. I’m Bob and these gentlemen with me are Lewis and Tom. We’re board members of the HOA here and were wondering if we could rely on your membership with us,” said Bob, a Jack Nicholson-looking fella with a car salesman grin. Altogether they looked like the Three Stooges on vacation.
“Okay Bob, well uh I didn’t know there was an HOA here,” replied Alan a little bewildered, “Would you mind explaining how I can – hey!”
Just Alan was speaking the tall skinny one, Lewis walked off to his garage door.
He gave the door a small kick with his boat shoes.
“Hey kiddo you mind opening this up for me? I needa take a look inside,” Lewis asked bluntly.
Alan was dumbfounded.
“Um, no you may not may I ask why you–”
Lewis cut Alan off.
“Buddy, if you’re gonna be a member here you gotta let me inside. Trust me. I need to check your garage to see if everything there is in order. I have a right to do this biweekly, and denying me access is an offense which will cost a fine,” he said. “Now we don’t want that do we?”
It was barely even morning and Alan was already getting ticked off.
“I haven’t even signed your stupid papers yet now get away from my garage,” Alan retorted.
Lewis held his hands up.
“Okay, suit yourself, kiddo,” he relented, “But if ya gonna live here ya needa to sign some forms.”
Alan raised an eyebrow.
Bob jumped back in with a clipboard, this time being a bit pushier.
“Don’t know if you knew this son, but you were supposed to have these forms signed a week before you moved in. Now there’s a late fee but we’ll waive it for you how about that?” he said.
Just a week into living here and Alan was already being hassled. He couldn’t believe it.
“I need you guys to leave. NOW,” Alan commanded the old men.
Tom, the short one looked offended.
“Hey buddy, I don’t know what your problem is but rules are rules. Now are you going to be a good neighbor or not?” Tom said taking the clipboard from Bob’s hands and shoving them in Alan’s face.
Alan was about to lose it now.
“Maybe I’ll consider it after you morons leave my property or I’m gonna call the police,” Alan said.
“Looks like somebody hasn’t had their coffee yet,” Bob said. “No harm, no foul partner. We’ll just leave these forms here.” Bob leaned the clipboard against Alan’s house. “Just don’t lose it, kiddo,” he said. Bob, Lewis, and Tom strolled away.
What a welcoming party.
The Fine Print
Well, unfortunately for Alan when he spent his summers at his grandparents’ he never had to deal with HOA there. Things weren’t as carefree here as he had imagined when he was a kid. He was still in disbelief over the first interaction he had with his fellow neighbors. Alan took a deep breath and picked up the clipboard of papers those three morons had left him.
He took one look at the HOA by-laws and his jaw instantly dropped.
The list went on and on but some of the more freakish rules were as follows:
“Board members have the utmost to visit your home biweekly in order to check for harmful items stored in your garage. This especially includes gasoline and any fuel containers.”
“Homeowners must mow their lawn every week. Snow must also be shoveled every two hours while it is snowing starting at 5 am.”
“Homeowners must not park more than one car on their property. This does not however include the vehicle in your garage but pertains to additional vehicles parked in the street.”
Alan may have inherited a free house but he just moved into some kind of weird police state.
The Three Stooges Return
Alan kept his head low the next few days. Maybe the real HOA was more reasonable and those guys were just some weird neighbors on a power trip. But alas, Alan heard a knock on his door again one early morning. There they were. The three unwise men: Bob, Lewis, and Tom in their khaki shorts and boat shoes.
Alan sneered at the sight of the old men.
“What can I do for you boys?” he asked sarcastically.
“Hello friend,” said Bob. “Sorry to bother you but have you had a chance to look at those forms we left? Our mailbox has been awfully empty and we’re still waiting on your membership.”
Before Alan could even respond, stupid Lewis was already working on Alan’s garage door keypad.
“OLD MAN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET AWAY FROM MY GARAGE,” Alan shouted.
“Hey buddy, I need in there!” he whined.
What was up with these old dudes and garages?
Anyways, the three weirdos did their song and dance, but Alan refused to budge.
“I am NOT joining your stupid club,” he retorted, “Especially not after you folks have been treating me. GOOD DAY!”
He slammed the door in their faces but he could still hear Bob’s muffled voice outside.
“Suit yourself mister, but rules are rules.”
Alan watched as the trio sauntered away.
For about a week, every time Alan checked his mail there was another stupid fine for the HOA waiting for him. He was fined $250 for each week he didn’t let those three idiots inspect his garage. Alan couldn’t care less though. He simply used the fines to fire up his grill in the backyard.
After about $1,000 worth of fines, the letters stopped coming. Alan breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he had finally won against those morons, maybe they finally got the message. But alas, those old farts meant war.
One afternoon Alan returned home from work to discover something peculiar going on at his house. He came home and his garage door…was already open. Alan’s eyes bulged. He got out of his car and found a fine attached to the wall of his garage which read, “Improper Storage of Gasoline. HOA Violation: $250.”
On the dotted line of the fine issuer was Lewis’ lousy signature. The prick just broke into Alan’s house! But that wasn’t even the worst part! THERE WERE MORE PEOPLE IN HIS BACKYARD!
In Alan’s backyard, there are two old, grandiose oak trees his grandmother and grandfather had planted years ago. As he opened the backdoor to his yard he could hear chainsaws and tree trimmers buzzing. The HOA had hired a professional tree-trimming service to remove his family’s beloved trees!
Over The Line
Alan was at a loss for words, he went into a yelling frenzy at the sight.
“One tree was already so damaged. It was nothing but twigs and stump left. I got there in the nick of time because the team was just starting on the second one. I’ll be honest, I just absolutely lost it. I told the crew to stop right the heck now and I explained to them I was the owner and what they were doing was highly illegal,” Alan retold.
“The tree trimming guys were just clueless and doing their job. I asked them how they got in and who sent them and they said a board member wrote them the check and claimed my trees were in violation of the rules. Supposedly, they left too many leaves on my neighbor’s garden.”
The crew even said the HOA member told them they had Alan’s permission to remove the trees. Alan was in shock. He couldn’t believe how far those old losers had gone. He flipped through the lousy pamphlet of bylaws and there was the rule right there:
“If a tree produces more than one 40 liter sack of leaves within two weeks, then the homeowner must take down the offending trees within 14 business days.”
Alan had an intense fire in his belly. He told the tree crew he would overlook their trespassing if they agreed to be his witnesses in court. The crew agreed to do so. Alan was officially at war. He picked up his cellphone and dialed the police. It was time to get revenge on these crooks.
Alan Goes On The Offensive
The gloves were off for Alan. He had tried to play the nice guy, tried being assertive, now it was time for him to really go on the attack. It’s one thing to be weird about a guy’s garage, it’s another to break into their house and desecrate something near and dear to his family. Those trees were a familial symbol and now he was going to make the HOA pricks pay.
After Alan called the police an investigation was underway. Turns out it was Lewis, the tall, skinny one, who had broken into Alan’s garage. He had used a bolt cutter to cut the chains and bike locks Alan had previously put on the door.
The police made appearances at all three of the HOA board member’s houses. Alan wasn’t there but he was sure they all about peed themselves at the sight of the law. But if the humiliation didn’t kill them, the upcoming legal battle was sure to do so.
Lewis got hit with trespassing and breaking and entering charges. While all three had to foot the bill for the repairs to his door and rehabilitative tree services, which for two giant oaks like that cost north of $30,000.
Now this could’ve been the end of the story, but Alan wanted to push harder, he wanted to really hurt these guys for what they had done. In their foolishness, the idiot HOA members actually wanted a trial…which means they thought they had a chance of winning somehow…?
Alan rolled his eyes at the thought but he allowed the fools to dig themselves deeper in the hole. So, Bob, Lewis, and Tom threw another $15K-$20K in legal fees into a trial they inevitably lost. I mean, how can you plead not guilty to breaking and entering when you left a note with your name on it at the scene?
After their defeat, Alan sued the BLT trio for emotional damages. He told the court how much the trees meant to him, really lathering it on, and inevitably won. And because his grandparents were immigrants, he had seeds from their mother country flown into the US! That certainly wasn’t cheap.
Then for the knockout punch. Due to the break-in, Alan claimed he felt unsafe in his neighborhood so he appealed for the HOA to pay for an in-home security system. All in all, trees, security system, and then emotional damages, Alan got a payout to the tune of $250,000.
But That’s Not All Folks!
Okay, so just when you thought Alan couldn’t get any sweeter of revenge on the Three Stooges, Lady Karma made a visit. By now, the HOA’s stupid escapade has now cost them at least $500,000 in payouts and legal fees. With nowhere else to turn the three men decided to file for bankruptcy and disbanded the HOA.
To make sure Alan got his money, a mediator was hired to check the books when he made a startling discovery. The three idiots, Bob, Lewis, and Tom had been defrauding the HOA for over 10 years!
Emails, letters, and other documents were found confirming that the HOA had been doling out as many fines as they could for revenue then pocketing the cash! Which certainly explained the outrageous rules and thuggish attitude!
By the time the dust had settled, Bob, Lewis, and Tom were not only out of the HOA, but they were also out of the neighborhood completely since they had to sell their homes. Alan had unwittingly cracked the racket wide open. Overnight he had become the most popular guy in the neighborhood; he had broken the curse of the evil HOA.
“You see, most people never wanted the HOA in the first place, but the board members practically forced them to sign the contract, claiming it would not be optional, and if they did not sign before moving it would be a $500 fine,” Alan explained after finding out the truth. “Only six of the over 50 members actually wanted this HOA.”
With those three bozos gone Alan was finally able to breathe easy in his new house. He looked out onto his neighborhood, the same one he used to visit back when he was a kid. It was finally beginning to look a bit like home.