Yeah! What she says!

Yeah! What she says!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home Owners Associations - Hate 'Em!

To be honest, I hate them. I lived in one once, and it was like living in Nazi Germany, and quite frankly, I refuse to pay anyone to harass me daily.

I understand why they were developed. I have had bad neighbors, and messy neighbors, and been in a position where crappy neighbors were ruining my happiness, and my home value. This is why I moved, and why I moved into an association. I quickly realized why this was the biggest mistake I have ever made.

Shortly after moving in (we are talking two, maybe three weeks) we started receiving fines for yard maintenance. The home we purchased had been empty for several years, and was not maintained. Although we started making some efforts to clean the front and back yards up right away, we had a house to unpack too, and getting beds set up, and the kitchen functional were our first priority. With no regard to how new we were to the neighborhood, the fines came. I called the HOA, and was told that it didn't matter how long we had been in the home, it was now our responsibility.

It didn't end there. I was fined for putting the hood of my car up, in the driveway, to add washer fluid to the reservoir. I wasn't doing an oil change, or major repair, and the hood was up for two minutes, but I was fined $100.00. I was fined for leaving the Christmas lights up until January 5th (as is tradition in my family because of Epiphany) because the rules and regulations stated that they had to down by January 1st. That fine was $50.00 a day, and wasn't mailed to us until we had already taken them down.

It wasn't just the stupid fines. The neighborhood security officer also made me keep my son inside all weekend once because children are loud when they play outside, and one of the neighbors had called and complained because they were sick, in bed, and trying to sleep. I was threatened with the local sheriff being called if I did not comply with the request to keep my son indoors. We also weren't allowed to keep a small utility trailer in our side yard (could not be seen from the street), because any vehicles that were not your daily driver had to be stored in the RV lot a mile away for an additional $60.00 a month. On top of that, right before we moved, my husband at the time, had to push his truck out of the driveway every morning before starting it and driving it because it was too loud for the neighbor across the street whose bedroom overlooked our driveway (we lived on a corner). This was an attempt to keep her from complaining, yet another morning.

After five years of this garbage, my husband at the time left, moved in with my so-called friend, who it turns out he was sleeping with (and had been for months), and who's sister lived down the street from us. I started packing and looking for apartments. The sister of my so-called friend called the sheriff anytime I put anything in my car (one morning it was my lunch box, another day it was some clay flower pots I was giving to my mother), as I was supposedly disposing of his property. I called my ex while the sheriff was there for the flower pot occasion, and had him on speaker phone, to ask him if he wanted the clay flower pots. The sheriff thought it was funny that either of us had to participate in this game, and my ex's reaction to the call made him say "You probably don't think so now, but this divorce is probably for the best."

The sheriff's presence made matters worse with the HOA, who seemed to always find a reason to fine me for something after their arrival, such as undue neighborhood disturbance, visitors not using the guest lot and parking on the street, basically anything they could find. To beat all, the so-called friend, and her sister, had a brother, who was the county commissioner. When I finally got all the way moved out, I left the county entirely as now I had problems that went beyond a bad HOA and a marriage in divorce court. It probably didn't help that the sister down the street was also on the board of directors for our association did it? My guess is no, that didn't help, but the problems with her came later in my life under the rule of the HOA. My ex-husband and his affair probably didn't affect the problems we were having with the HOA for the first four years in that home at least.

As you can see, I had a really bad experience. One that I never care to repeat. One that I vowed I wouldn't repeat. My current husband (the man I should have married first not second), and I are currently house hunting. We have an offer in on a house now. Despite all my protests, it is in an HOA. I have been reassured by others in the neighborhood, that this association is nothing like my last. I know that there are some that really aren't bad at all, but I am still nervous about the whole thing. I hope this doesn't prove to be another in my long list of mistakes.

I decided to write about this because I read an article today in the local paper. It seems Nevada legislators are considering reform for HOAs. I have to say that this is long over due. You can read the article here. I guess I am not the only one who had a bad experience.

To anyone considering a move to a home in an HOA, make sure you get a copy of not only the CC&R's, but also a copy of the rules and regulations, or by-laws. If they won't give you copies, they are probably breaking a law, but don't buy a home there. In this housing market, you can find something else that you can afford in a place without constraints, or in a place not ashamed of sharing all the information with you upfront. If you don't know how to get copies of the CC&R's or the by-laws, your Realtor can help. If your Realtor can't or won't, explore you Realtor options. Most are more than willing to get you anything you require when looking into a home purchase.

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