The Most Absurd Homeowners’ Association Rules You’ve Ever Heard Of
Homeowners choose to buy in HOA communities for several reasons, including safety, long-term property value, and not having to wake up to a neighbor with two cars parked in their overgrown front yard. But while HOAs giveth, they most certainly taketh as well.
The rules that come with being a part of an HOA can sometimes be maddening, if not borderline unconstitutional. Many HOAs will give you a hard time about noise or outlandish paint colors, but then there are others who severely cross the line of control. You wouldn’t believe some of these real HOA rules that actually exist…
Polish That Mailbox
One homeowner’s association in Houston, Texas requires their residents to wash their mailboxes daily. Seriously, who has time for that? Out of all of the things to do in your already busy day, imagine having to add “wash my mailbox” to that list.
In addition to it being so utterly unnecessary, metal mailboxes are prone to rust and that amount of cleaning would also probably cause the paint to chip quite often. It definitely seems like a very random issue for an HOA to enforce.
It can be tough living in a community ruled by a Homeowners’ Association. One of the crazier stories about what it’s like living under HOA rules came from someone who resided directly across the street from an HOA board member who took perfectionism to an unrealistic level.
He wrote the homeowner and his next-door neighbor a letter asking them to have perfectly matching lawns. To achieve this, they were instructed to mow their lawns on the same day, at the same height, and in the same pattern. The reason given for this was to “provide uniformity in the community.”
No Visitors Allowed
Well, this isn’t very welcoming. According to one person, the HOA in their building likens themselves to a hotel, charging their condo owners a fee if they decide to have an overnight guest. Could you imagine owning your home and someone taking note of your guests?
The charges include $10 per guest each night and an additional $5 if your guest needs a parking spot. Residents complain about how having multiple guests on multiple nights can really add up. I guess the kids aren’t having many slumber parties in this building.
Rules Are Rules
One HOA strictly forbids chopping down trees without first obtaining “permission,” regardless of the circumstances. One unlucky homeowner had an ice storm that caused a tree to crash through a neighbor’s sliding glass door and onto their deck, destroying both.
While helping the neighbor remove the tree that had fallen into his kitchen, the owner was approached by a member of the homeowners’ association who demanded to know if permission had been obtained before they could operate a chainsaw. They sought to fine him $1,000 for the offense.
Classy Garage Sale
This one is so ridiculous, it’s laughable. Reddit user 91X reported that in their community, there were two set garage sales each year, one in April and the other in September. Even more frustrating is the fact that specific attire is required for residents at these garage sales.
Polo shirts and khakis were the required uniforms if you wanted to participate in the sale. People were surprised the homeowner even wanted to live there with such specific demands, but the user explained that fortunately, they were only renting so it was temporary.
Keep Your Paws Off My Floor
Pamela McMahan is an elderly woman who uses a cane. The HOA in her building made a rule that stated she must carry her dog through the lobby or be fined $25 each time the dog walks in the lobby. Pamela, obviously, can not carry her dog due to her physical restrictions but no exceptions were made for her.
The assistant property manager of the building explained that the lobby was just far too busy and had too many things going on for a dog to be in the mix, so the absurd restriction was put in place. Pamela was forced to move after running up several hundred dollars in fines.
A Redditor’s homeowner’s association demanded architectural approval for all plants, even two little potted plants by their front door. The Reddit user didn’t think they would require approval because the pots weren’t attached to the house and didn’t modify the landscaping in any noticeable way.
However, they were penalized and even sent to collections over the plants. The unfortunate homeowner had to take the absurdity to court, where he ultimately prevailed. On the bright side, the community worked together to remove certain corrupt board members.
Is Mulch That Important?
A Reddit user named amandatorry claimed that their HOA told them to remove the mulch from their property because of the color. Mulch is made from a mixture of former living materials like compost and bark and is dispersed around plants to improve soil quality, not aesthetics.
The user claimed they were fined twice for having mulch that wasn’t dark enough. Getting mulch to be a specific shade is a bit difficult and insisting on it seems pointless but if you live in this particular neighborhood, you may want to bring a color wheel when purchasing your mulch.
Sorry For Your Loss
Tragedy struck when a small plane crashed into the home of a young family, taking the lives of the wife and her young child. While the community rallied around the mourning husband, the HOA seemed unconcerned about his situation and showed no sympathy for him or his family.
The recently widowed homeowner had to make extensive repairs to his home from the plane crash. Callously, he was given a hefty fine and ordered to redo his home’s renovations because he had used shingles that didn’t match the rest of the neighborhood.
Park Your Bike Somewhere Else
As one Reddit user explained, he was told he couldn’t keep his bike on the balcony of his sixth-floor apartment. Many people who live in high-rise apartments or condos do not have access to garages. That could explain why the user had no choice but to store the bicycle inside the house.
It’s reasonable that the HOA would want to ensure the neighborhood looks nice, but there should always be a balance between aesthetics and practicality.
One homeowner was told to put up curtains in all of his second-story windows for a particularly annoying reason. His nosy neighbor complained to the HOA that they could see his furniture upstairs.
The simple solution is to stop creepily looking through your neighbors’ windows, but at the very least, don’t complain to the homeowners’ association if you have an issue with a neighbor’s lack of decor.
Restrictions regarding pets are some of the most common and expected rules HOAs seem to enforce. However, one Reddit user brought up a somewhat unusual one. According to them, residents are not allowed to have pets that exceed 15 pounds which is a pretty strict limit.
Domestic cats can weigh up to 25 pounds and the smallest dog breeds weigh up to 22 pounds. So maybe without intention, the rule promotes keeping small animals like guinea pigs, mice, rabbits, and tarantulas as pets which the HOA probably didn’t consider when creating it.
Your Trampoline Is The Wrong Color
Someone shared that they live in a community that does not allow blue trampoline covers, only green or black ones. Many commenters were confused by such a specific requirement, but one person offered a possible reason for it.
This particular rule may have been created to benefit wildlife as apparently ducks have been known to dive into blue astroturf, perhaps mistaking it for water. Hopefully, no ducks were harmed in this community which caused the restriction to be put in place.
Put It Where We Can See It
I don’t think many would argue that due to the importance of fire extinguishers, it is appropriate to mandate their presence in every residence. However, because they are unsightly, most people prefer to keep them hidden in a closet or store them in a cupboard.
One homeowner said that her community would never tolerate such behavior. The extinguisher had to be specifically installed on a wall in the kitchen. It also needed to be mounted to the side of a cabinet. At least it ensures you’ll never lose track of it.
Don’t Mess With A Man’s Car
According to another post on Reddit, one user’s HOA wanted to implement a rule about what cars were okay to park in the driveway. Apparently, in order for a car to be deemed good enough to be “displayed,” it had to be of a certain age, have no rust, and no dirt or debris on the paint.
Thankfully, the homeowner and his classic car prevailed in this case. After taking it to court, a judge ruled this policy ridiculous and they even ordered an examination of all local HOA regulations to make sure there weren’t any other outrageous demands being placed on homeowners in the area.
What’s The Difference?
This one is for all basketball lovers, or really anyone who just enjoys shooting hoops. In one Houston, Texas neighborhood, there is an HOA rule that states that you can’t have a basketball hoop attached to your garage if that garage is connected to your home.
However, if your garage is detached from your home, you are allowed to add a basketball hoop to it. This begs the question, what is the difference? No one really knows where this rule came from, or why, but it continues to annoy residents who just want to shoot around at home.
Hide Your Pickup Trucks
One homeowner’s association in Houston has a number of strange bylaws, including one that forces pickup truck owners to park in their garage, and never in their driveway.
We aren’t exactly sure why this is a rule, and what they have against pickup trucks, but it does seem a little bit ridiculous that they are telling individuals what kind of vehicle they are permitted to park in their own private driveways. However, in an HOA, appearance is everything.
Not So Family-Friendly
A townhouse development labeled itself as very family-friendly and great for kids. There was a play area with a makeshift baseball field, a playground, and a fenced-in tennis court. Kids would often frequent this area, using it for a wide variety of sports.
The HOA randomly shut this all down and only allowed the tennis courts to be used. In order to use the courts, homeowners had to prove they were tennis players or they would have the authorities called on them. When questioned by residents why this area was shut down so abruptly, their response was “because we can.”
One HOA experienced poster claimed that white Venetian blinds were mandatory for all street-facing windows in their community. After seeing some of the other insane regulations HOAs place, this seemed like a simple request, but unfortunately, their cat turned it into a major hassle.
The cat’s favorite activity was destroying the blinds, which were easy prey due to the Venetians’ horizontal orientation. As a result, the HOA began issuing notices whenever the blinds were damaged. According to the user, the blinds were replaced twelve times in a single year.
Don’t Forget Your Towel
In one HOA, you are forbidden from sharing towels with anyone at the community pool. This is another one of those crazy rules where you wonder who had the time to come up with it, or the energy to be so bothered by the situation that they felt the need to restrict it.
There is a fine for violating this demand. The price for not possessing your own towel is a whopping $25. The user doesn’t list any more specifics and it is unclear how the rule is being enforced, or by who.
Don’t Hang It Out To Dry
If there is one common theme amongst HOAs, it’s that they do not care about saving money, or the environment. This particular HOA follows that trend by not allowing its residents to line dry their clothes outside because it is an “eyesore.”
The HOA issues fines to anyone who chooses to take advantage of the sun and warmth of spring and summer by hanging out their laundry on a line. Hang drying saves energy, smells great, and costs next to nothing, but this HOA clearly isn’t worried about families’ financial situations.
No Sleep On Trash Day
Many people like to take their trash cans out to the street the night before trash day, especially if the garbage truck comes early in the morning. In one neighborhood, you have to wait until midnight to put your bins on the street or risk a fine of $25.
This particular community had their trash picked up early Thursday morning so their residents were forced to either stay up late or wake up early to get their trash to the street or pay the price for it.
No Privacy Here
This one just doesn’t feel safe. The homeowner’s association in Auburn Greens, California, may have one of the most baffling regulations. They require residents to leave their garage doors wide open from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday or face a stiff charge of $200 for not complying.
There are obviously concerns regarding this rule, one being what happens if no one is at home during these times? It would appear that this is irrelevant, and individuals are expected to have faith that members of the general public will not go through their belongings.
Neighborhood Parking Police
According to one Redditor, their homeowners’ association banned people from parking in reverse in the driveway on the grounds that they needed to check their registration sticker.
Having to deal with the police and hefty fines because you forgot to renew your automobile registration is enough to make anyone feel extremely anxious but no one wants to hear from the HOA about anything, especially if it has nothing to do with the neighborhood.
It’s All In The Details
Do people really pay attention to doorbells? Apparently in one HOA-run neighborhood they do because their monthly community newsletter contained a page-long essay detailing exactly what doorbell frames were allowed. There were shapes, materials, and styles that were prohibited.
Frames with “novelty” designs were forbidden. Brass was listed as an unacceptable material. The shapes allowed were probably the most comical as round was preferred, but oval was acceptable. Square was not allowed unless it was turned to become a diamond.
One Reddit user lived in a neighborhood where all of the mailboxes had to be identical. This might not seem like an outrageous demand at first, but these weren’t mass-produced mailboxes you could pick up at Home Depot. They had to purchase the mailbox from a particular guy who charged $750 for one.
If insisting on overpriced, identical mailboxes isn’t bad enough, this HOA also enforced that no cars could be parked on the street for more than an hour, which is completely unrealistic, especially in an urban area.
No Hummingbirds Allowed
An HOA in Houston doesn’t allow anyone to put a hummingbird feeder in their yard. This is unfortunate because Houston has the perfect climate for the little birds, and people love seeing them in their yards.
Bird lovers who enjoy drinking their morning coffee while watching birds flutter around the garden should avoid this particular Houston community. It’s unclear if any bird feeders are allowed at all, but would you want to risk a hefty fine to find out?
Crazy Cat Ladies Rejoice
Reddit user NdYAGlady mentioned that there are strict regulations for all pets except cats in their HOA community. You’re free to keep as many cats as you wish, but only property owners (sorry, renters) are allowed to have dogs on the premises, and only one.
Other small and hairy pets, such as guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils are strictly forbidden since they are considered “exotic.” The HOA board seems to be made up of cat fanatics who hope to one day live in a community where felines rule and dogs drool.
Assigned Light Colors
Skeptibat posted on Reddit that their community now requires certain colors for Christmas lights. In response to a question about acceptable colors, the respondent said, “The HOA encourages variety, therefore it all depends on the home number.”
If the HOA was serious about encouraging diversity, it would allow its residents to decorate however they wanted. Assigning specific colors to individual homes takes the fun out of decorating for the holidays.
Those Are Some Expensive Roses
In one of the more heartbreaking stories about HOAs, Santa Fe’s Jeffery DeMarco was singled out by his HOA for violating a particularly ludicrous regulation. He planted too many rose bushes in his yard. There is a cap of bushes allowed by the HOA and he, unfortunately, exceeded it.
What makes the story sad is that the HOA began issuing monthly fines to DeMarco and then took the matter to court. The court ridiculously agreed with the HOA’s position that DeMarco wasn’t following rules and he was forced to pay $70,000 in fines, which caused him to lose his home to the bank.
Take Your Laundry And Go
A Reddit poster stated that where they previously lived did not permit in-home washers and dryers. Even if they had a community laundry room it was often inconvenient to not be able to wash clothes in their own home.
This same community doesn’t allow for businesses to be run within the home so, with the explosion of remote workers, they must be having a hard time finding homeowners who want to travel to do their laundry and are also unable to work from a home office.
Sorry Kids, No Trick-Or-Treating Here
One homeowner said that their HOA forbade trick-or-treating in the neighborhood forcing families to travel elsewhere to celebrate the holiday. The head of the HOA claims that the rule change was made for the sake of residents’ physical security.
Children enjoy going door-to-door and asking for candy on Halloween. It’s part of the joy of being a kid and they’ve made it so that families have to travel to other areas to celebrate the holiday.
Screen Door Confusion
One of the most confusing HOA regulations was shared by Reddit member FroggiJoy87. All the homes in their area are required to have a white screen door. HOA approval is required for the screen door, of course. In addition, this screen door must be kept shut at all times.
The focus on flies in someone else’s home is curious, but ultimately not a deal breaker. This next part is where it gets baffling. The use of a screen door in the rear of the house leading to the yard is strictly forbidden. The homeowner was at a loss to understand this reasoning.
A Reddit user reported seeing an HOA attempt to seize residents’ dogs in their community. Their justification? There was a problem with the length of the leashes, which was either too long or too short. When a veteran was subjected to a call from animal control, war broke out and the HOA lost.
Can you really report folks who have their pets on leashes? No one deserves that. Perhaps the residents of this neighborhood should start walking their dogs in strollers.
No Frog Fun Allowed
One homeowner in South Carolina said their HOA restricted them from flying any flags other than the American flag, the state flag, or a military flag. When a neighbor put up an adorable frog flag, they were warned several times to remove it or face consequences.
Imagine being so up in arms and threatening a resident over a cute frog banner. Perhaps if the amphibian had been carrying an American flag, it would have been tolerated.
One Redditor said their HOA has very specific requirements for the paint on all of the homes in the neighborhood. Not only does it have to be one of the seven approved shades, but it also has to be from the same manufacturer.
The particular paint they’re forced to use isn’t sold in most hardware stores, so they are forced to pay a premium for it. Hopefully, the HOA provides some sort of discount, but even so, why make painting your house that much more difficult?
Your Driveway, Our Problem
A Redditor revealed that the HOA board had reprimanded them for having an excessive number of vehicles in their driveway. Not in the street or on public property, but in their own personal driveway.
The homeowner explained that they had recently relocated a great distance and they had friends and family helping them move, so they asked for a temporary exception. The HOA refused which is certainly not the best way to welcome a new person to the neighborhood.
Looks Over Safety
Here’s another HOA worried about “eyesores,” but this one is actually dangerous. One Floridian was taken aback when their HOA forbade them to keep their storm shutters up all year. This guideline is extremely risky in a state where severe storms are common.
The only time locals are permitted to secure their shutters is shortly before a storm hits, and they must take them down as soon as the weather clears. The homeowners association seems to be under the impression that a hurricane won’t strike until residents have their shutters installed.
Stay And Possibly Get Your Car Towed
The no-overnight-guests policy was a source of contention for another Reddit user. These overnight visitors were not charged anything. However, they couldn’t spend more than two nights in their parking spots. The HOA was kind enough to increase this to three nights for the holidays.
The restriction doesn’t sound too onerous, especially because they only have to notify the HOA in writing if the extension is necessary. However, the HOA would tow the visitors’ cars if they didn’t.
Scrooge Lives Here
Holiday decorations seem to be a common gripe amongst HOAs. It seems as though the HOA board members want to make everyone in the neighborhood as miserable as they are for the holidays so they put stringent holiday light standards in place to ensure you have one more thing to stress about.
Lights may be prohibited entirely by some boards, while others may limit the number you can display or the number of times per week they can be illuminated. So, before you rush out and stock up on lights and holiday decor, read your HOA guide thoroughly and maybe use that money for more gifts.