HOA crime of the week: Decorating your porch with artwork

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog

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Ah, another Unreasonable HOA Rule story! It seems there’s an epidemic of expensive legal suits over HOA rules and restrictions this year:

The American Flag is OK, but not the flag pole.

The swing set in your back yard is purple.

Your vegetable garden is still slightly visible by people who pass by.

…and now, this gem: A pair of homeowners who dared to hang up some decorative ironwork on their front porch.

East Lake resident’s porch decoration leads to lawsuit

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/east-lake-residents-porch-decoration-leads-to-lawsuit/2245981#comments

In all of these cases, of course, there will be no harm done to anyone if your house and yard does not look 100% vanilla, cookie-cutter, ready-to-show-to-buyers at a moment’s notice. These are what I like to call KUA (Keeping Uniform Appearances) Rules. On the surface, these are rules about how your property looks. But when and how the rules are enforced is usually more a matter of whether the people in power happen to like you.

It seems that many homeowners associations have at least one owner – usually a Board member – that’s obsessed with the rules. Then there are certain Board members that abuse their power by selectively enforcing rules and restrictions. Or a Board member might keep tweaking the rules in a deliberate effort to retaliate against one of their neighbors. Sometimes the management company gets overzealous about issuing violation notices, especially if the manager gets to keep a portion of fines collected. When the attorney gets involved, it starts to get expensive for all homeowners.

Is it worth all of this conflict and stress over really minor HOA “crimes?”

People have different preferences, different lifestyle choices, and a diversity of tastes. Get over it.

What crazy rules are enforced in your HOA? Share in the comments section. Pass it onto to your friends, too. Let’s see how long we can make the comments list!

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3 Replies to “HOA crime of the week: Decorating your porch with artwork”

  1. MANY years ago, I lived in Northern Virginia. We wanted to install a storm/screen door on our front door. We read through the CCR’s carefully and found nothing was needed approval wise. Just make sure the screen door matches your home. Great. We had it installed and went on about our life.

    Two years later, we listed the townhouse for sale. The HOA came by for their ‘inspection’ and we were informed that our screendoor was installed improperly. TWO YEARS LATER. The doors weren’t supposed to open the same way…both door handles on the left side. They were supposed to open in the opposite direction. (If that makes any sense at all.) They threatened us by saying they wouldn’t sign off of their inspection (which wasn’t needed for the closing) and would fine us each day the door was wrong. Since we didn’t want that burden on the new owners, we called JAG and asked them to help. 1 JAG letter later, and all was just fine.

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  2. I live in an HOA (PA) that continues to go after homeowners as they please, 3 member board, every 3 years board changes and so do the rules they “Decide” to enforce. I have been in court once and am heading back. So have many other homeowners. They also conveniently “don’t have documentation” on something the HOA’s former board approved. New board, new attacks!

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