My Hate-Hate Relationship with the Homeowner’s Association

May 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m fired up.

I know, homeowner’s associations are supposed to help maintain the beauty (i.e., resale value) of our homes and keep our neighborhood sparkly and welcoming. Blah, blah, blah. But few things irritate me more than when someone tells me how to maintain MY property, especially when the window of acceptability is so narrow and arbitrary.

We don’t have a happy history, the HOA and I. When we first moved here, our development (let’s call it The Projects at Fancy Schmancy) was part of a fancy-schmancy HOA (with fancy-schmancy HOA dues). About a year after we moved in, the homeowners of The Projects valiantly fought to secede from those wretched Fancy Schmancies (in other words, The Projects were a disgrace to the Fancy Schmancies and they kicked us out).

But during the 4 months or so while we were in negotiations, someone decided it would be awesome if we paid HOA dues to both The Projects and the Fancy Schmancies. When I politely declined their request and said I would be happy to pay one or the other, the Fascists, using very small words and talking very slowly, informed me that they basically own my behind and everything associated with me so I better just shut up and pay up. Kind of like how you might explain to a 3-year-old that yes, he is going to bed now, kicking and screaming or not, because you are bigger than he is and can pick him up and put him there yourself.

Next, I decided to put our ginormous rolling recycle bin up against the side of the house in the alley, out of view of 99.9% of my neighbors. Unacceptable.

Then we left the garbage bin at the end of our driveway in the alley for 25 hours after the trash had been picked up. Unacceptable.

We had the exterior of our house repainted the same color. Without first submitting an application to the Architectural Review Committee. [Gasp!!] I know. Totally reckless and an obvious disgrace to the neighborhood. Unacceptable.

We put our house on the market, using the Committee-approved fancy schmancy wooden sign (left over from the days of our indentured servitude to the Fancy Schmancy neighborhood). Then we took it off the market. When we took the sign down, it left a 4 inch x 4 inch patch of dirt in our front yard. Unacceptable. The notice also said we needed to “brown up our lawn”. Oops. I should have kept it for posterity, but I was too mad so I ripped it into tiny pieces and threw it out.

Imagine you just bought a new shirt. You have been eying it for quite a while, so you paid a little more than you normally would. You love your shirt. When you get home, you notice the salesperson has put a little note in the bag.

Welcome to the world of Fancy Brand shirts! We’re so happy you’ve decided to join our family. We certainly hope you enjoy your new shirt. In order to make sure everyone else enjoys seeing your Fancy Brand shirt and wearing their Fancy Brand shirts, and to maintain the integrity of Fancy Brand, we have a few rules you must follow:

  1. Your Fancy Brand shirt must be dry cleaned and ironed each time you wear it. If it is not dry cleaned within 24 hours of last wearing, you will be fined.
  2. You may not wear any accessories with your Fancy Brand shirt unless you submit an application to the Fancy Brand Accessorizing Committee. Your request will either be denied or approved within 7 business days, so plan ahead!
  3. You may not repair your Fancy Brand shirt unless and until you submit an application to the Fancy Brand Repair Committee. Your request will either be denied or approved within 7 days, so plan ahead!
  4. You may only wear your Fancy Brand shirt with pants or skirts specifically listed in the Fancy Brand Covenants, Codes and Restrictions document that you signed with the other 14,000 pieces of paper you signed upon purchase. Don’t act like you don’t remember.
  5. If your Fancy Brand shirt is torn, stained, or otherwise damaged in any way, regardless of location, you will be fined.
  6. If you leave anything in the pocket of your Fancy Brand shirt for more than 24 hours, you will be fined.

Please keep in mind that, in signing your credit card receipt, you have agreed to give away all rights to your Fancy Brand shirt and with it, your behind. If you fail to comply with any of the Fancy Brand shirt guidelines listed above (or any of the guidelines listed in the 7,000 page Fancy Brand Shirt Full Guidelines document, located at http://www.fancybrandshirts.com/FBSFG), we will 1) warn you, 2) fine you, 3) fine you more, and 4) put a lien on your shirt so that you can’t ever sell it. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Enjoy your shirt, and welcome to Fancy Brand!

Husband was leaving for work after lunch today. Toddler Boy and I walked out with him to the garage. My car is parked on the driveway behind our alley-entrance garage.

Husband: What’s that yellow note on your car?

Me: [Rage building] I don’t know. But I’m probably about to have a meltdown.

You might be wondering what my offense was.

Car up on blocks? Never.

Oil leaking onto the driveway? Nah.

Flat tires? No.

Loud music blaring from my super-dope gangsta bass speakers? Nope.

Car blocking traffic? Niet.

Car caked in mud? Niner. Wait, that’s not right. No.

Car alarm going off? Not even close.

My car was parked behind my garage, 6 inches off the side of the driveway so Husband had enough room to pull his car out of the garage.

My crime. Yes, that's a box of Honey Nut Cheerios covering my license plate. I don't trust you people. Plus, Honey Nut Cheerios are freaking awesome.

I love the apology. "Sorry, I know this is retarded, but this is the only job I could get in this economy and they force me to watch Barney for six hours at a time if I don't write 3 citations a day."

Aren’t you glad I spent the afternoon writing that instead of cleaning my house (or moving my car)?

Update: I feel better now.

Update #2: Thank you, Lord, that I have a house and a husband with a job to go back to at lunch. And a yard that I get in trouble for not having brown enough. And a driveway to park almost all the way on. Amen.

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8 Comments

  1. beta dad said,

    I’ve never met anyone who didn’t hate their H.O.A. Some politician should use the H.O.A as a metaphorical bogeyman to describe what will happen if their opponent wins the election: “If those liberals take control, the federal guvmint will become an H.O.A that controls every aspect of your life!” Or, “if those conservatives deregulate everything, cities will turned into giant H.O.A’s with corporate fascists at the helm!” I’m glad I have never had to deal with one.

    • Mamma Gina said,

      Nice job representing both sides of the aisle, Andy. I’m touched.

  2. Harmony said,

    This is hilarious! I live in the polar land of your HOA hell. I merely pay my $50 a year to have the associaion filed with the state. In fact, we are at the end of a cul-de-sac in a driveway that goes back about 20 yards from the street. We ended up moving next door to the ONLY house on the street that believes yard work means spraying the yard with Round-Up as a way of maintaining property. We refer to our neighbors as “The Klopeks” (please recall the 80’s movie ‘The Burbs’ starring Tom Hanks). (Wish I was kidding.) In fact, the father of the female resident at said estate comes around 4-5 times per spring and summer to weed whack grass that is 4 feet tall in the back yard and spray said Round-Up in the front area.

    We, too, tried to sell our house and I couldn’t help but think the whole time that what person would want to buy a house that is neighbors to The Klopeks?! Needless to say, we’re still here and we’ll have to wait till the market picks up or hell freezes over and the Klopeks discover the fine uses of a lawn mower.

    Not that I care what people do with their yards, but do something so there aren’t tumbleweeds! I’m paying dues to live next to a shanty?!
    I feel your pain, just in another way!

    • Mamma Gina said,

      See, if you paid 24 times that you could be harassed too! The weird thing was that a few months before we got the notice about our yard, there was a house right when you entered the neighborhood that was obviously vacant. The grass was literally 3 feet high. It stayed like that for weeks. There were notices on the door. My thought: How about you take some of the $50,000 in “management fees” (no, you wouldn’t even have to dip into the tens of thousands we pay in landscaping fees for the common areas), find a lawn mower, and MOW THE FRICKIN LAWN???

  3. Laurel Jacobson said,

    I am literally on the floor howling with laughter and I KNOW all of my co-workers think I’m nuts. Your finest work yet, Gina!

  4. beta dad said,

    That’s how I roll, Gina. I wanted to name the twins Fair and Balanced, but the good doctor would have none of it.

  5. anamidg said,

    This note: AMAZING passive aggressive skill!!!! I think you should nominate it on the passive aggressive notes blog. I love that your neighbors are staging a coo. Die HOA, die.

  6. maria said,

    fancy brand fancy brand fancy brand

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