The rules are the rules in HOA-ville, USA — even in a pandemic

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


In early April, IAC posted several examples of how HOA-governed communities make life more difficult in these already challenging times.

Nearly two months later, as the world continues to cope with the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that community conflict is growing. Reports across the country illustrate how HOA boards are turning up the heat on enforcement of restrictions and rules.

From petty to cold-hearted, these HOAs appear to be hell-bent on maintaining tight control over residents doing their best to cope with stay-at-home orders and gradual lifting of local government restrictions.


FSR management company calls child’s artwork “unsightly”

For example, last month in Conroe, Texas, HOA management corporate giant First Service Residential sent a family a violation notice for “unsightly articles” on their property. What had the homeowners done wrong?

Brace yourselves.

The homeowners posted some of their four-year-old daughter’s coloring book art in their front-facing window.

While the little girl’s mother admits her child is not a professional artist, she saw no harm in displaying the child’s colorful artwork from the inside of her own home. Even KHOU reporters called the HOA’s response “petty.”


HOA sends Conroe family violation notice for daughter’s ‘stay home’ window art
First Service Residential sent the family a violation notice calling 4-year-old Giuliana’s colored pictures “unsightly articles” that would drop property values.
Author: Marcelino Benito (KHOU)
Published: 10:23 PM CDT April 27, 2020
Updated: 9:13 AM CDT April 28, 2020


HOA demands homeowners rebuild pre-approved rock wall, pool slide for their disabled son

Meanwhile, over in the Poloma Lake community in Round Rock, the HOA has ordered the parents of a disabled child to completely tear out and rebuild the rock wall and pool slide in their back yard.

Christina and Rick Greene have a 6-year-old son, Jonah, who has cerebral palsy. Born with serious medical conditions, at age 2, the child had a kidney transplant. Because he has a weak immune system, Jonah cannot safely play in public spaces, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, a nonprofit organization donated time and materials to build an in-ground swimming pool and modified slide for Jonah. The Greenes say the HOA approved their plans for construction before they broke ground.

But now the HOA says the as-built height and location of the slide are slightly off from the plans, so it must come down and be rebuilt from scratch.

The Greenes want the HOA to give them some slack, given their son’s disability, and under these extraordinary circumstances. The family has launched a petition. At the time of this posting, it already has more than 12,000 signatures in support of the homeowners.

I say this is yet another case of an HOA taking their “the rules are the rules” stance too far.


Round Rock family battling HOA over pool slide height during pandemic
by Melanie Barden, CBS Austin
Thursday, May 28th 2020




Killjoy HOA orders residents to clean chalk art off their driveways

It’s no secret that millions of children have been unable to attend school amidst prolonged stay-at-home orders. In order to help lift spirits and keep children busy, leaders from the city of Peoria decided to distribute boxes of sidewalk chalk to the youngsters.

Children and their parents happily embraced the city’s kind gesture, and immediately got to work drawing colorful images, and writing messages of encouragement.

The messages read: Be safe. “Be happy. Be healthy,” “Be kind,” and “God bless us all.”

Who would object to that?

Well, apparently someone on the HOA board is a stickler for the rules.  The board of Springer Ranch reportedly ordered its community association manager, Donna Herold of Colby Management, to send written violation notices to several residents, asking them to remove all of the sidewalk chalk from their driveways.

The letter cites an HOA restriction that requires owners to keep their driveways clean, and it also threatens “monetary penalties” if property owners fail to comply.

As if sidewalk chalk is somehow unclean?


HOA threatens to fine Peoria family over chalk art in their driveway News Staff
Posted May 15, 2020


After condo association denies entry to her health aid, disabled woman files discrimination lawsuit against her condo association

In Winston Towers, Miami, a condo association board has refused to allow a disabled resident’s home health aide to enter the building.

The 73-year-old woman reportedly suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. For several years, she has relied upon a health aide to help her with basic needs such as using the toilet, taking a bath, and preparing meals.

But soon after the pandemic was declared, condominiums throughout Miami were ordered to close their common amenities. Some condo boards, like Winston Towers, went much further. They chose to restrict all non-residents from entering the building, with the exception of immediate family members.

That left the disabled resident, Eva Markman, unable to receive assistance for daily living. Markman is now suing her condo association, with assistance from Legal Services of Greater Miami and the Disability Independence Group.


Condo association bans elderly woman’s health aide over coronavirus fears, lawsuit says
APRIL 28, 2020 05:26 PM, UPDATED APRIL 29, 2020 09:40 AM


The Villages CDD demands couple remove a little white cross from their yard

Wayne and Bonnie Anderson of the Village of Tamarind Grove face $4,800 in fines for displaying a small white ornamental cross in their front yard. The dispute is now the subject of a pending lawsuit in the state of Florida.

The Andersons say they have a First Amendment Constitutional right to display the cross. The Villages contends that the Andersons “agreed” to abide by a deed restriction that prohibits landscape ornaments, including religious objects.

The issue: should a community group have the right to override the U.S. and state of Florida Constitutions?

Sadly, at a time when the world can really use more hope and prayer, leaders at The Villages apparently feel it’s more important to uphold uniformity in landscape standards.


Villages couple ready for David vs. Goliath battle over little white cross
April 4, 2020
Meta Minton, Villages-News


Huh? HOA says its demand to remove “Faith over Fear” crosses isn’t religious in nature

A similar fight over the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and religion is brewing in the Riverwood Plantation neighborhood of Columbia County, GA.

There, homeowners are defending their rights to display “Faith over Fear” crosses, a sign of hope for Christians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A representative of the HOA reportedly insists that the covenants and restrictions give the board the right to ask residents to remove any sign or object they don’t approve — including “Faith over Fear” crosses.

After the story aired on WJBF, the HOA backtracked a bit. They agreed to allow the crosses to remain until the Governor’s emergency declaration expires on July 12th.

However, since when do First Amendment rights come with an expiration date?


Faith Over Fear Crosses: A local homeowner’s association is telling residents to take them down, and some are not too happy (WJBF)
Posted: May 28, 2020 / 05:27 PM EDT / Updated: May 28, 2020 / 06:27 PM EDT



HOA demands residents remove ‘hero’ signs from their yard

Damon and Tina Turnmire hold jobs considered essential during, according to stay-at-home orders in Indiana. Out of appreciation for their work, Tina’s mother gave the couple two small signs to display in their yard.

The signs read “A Hero Lives Here” and “We Love Our Hero.” And they’re popping up in communities across the country.

The Indy Channel reports that, being a typical stick in the mud, the HOA has ordered the Turnmires to remove their signs. And they are threatening to impose fines for noncompliance. Omni Property Management Services, the company who works for the unnamed HOA, says they have the right to demand removal of the signs, because they are prohibited by the community’s restrictions and rules.

The reporter of this story claims that residents of several other HOA-governed communities in Indiana have reached out to him, explaining that their HOAs are also demanding that they remove similar ‘hero’ signs from their properties.


Indianapolis family enraged after HOA says ‘hero’ yard signs must be removed
By: Rafael Sánchez
Posted at 9:17 AM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 9:28 AM, May 11, 2020



Townhome condo/HOA board member admits to removing graduation yard signs, cites rules against posting signs in the “common areas”

This reports illustrates an important distinction between and HOA in a planned community vs. a condominium HOA.

In a planned community, a member typically owns a lot that surrounds the home. But in a condominium association — including many townhouse communities — individual members do not own any land, including their driveway and yard.

Typically, HOA restrictions consider your yard a “limited common element.” You have the exclusive right to enjoy the front, side, or rear yard attached to your townhouse, but that right is limited and subject to many restrictions.

A townhouse association often maintains all yards, but, in exchange, owners and residents are forbidden to change the landscape, add lawn ornaments, or post signs on this “common” property.

And, according to a report from KOLO8, in the Gates of Mirasol community (Mission Viejo), the HOA won’t even allow families to display graduation signs provided by school teachers. The HOA callously ignores the fact that students have been learning from home for months, and literally sucks the joy out of the kind gestures of school teachers who worked so hard to deliver the signs to graduates of 2020.

But, in this case, the HOA didn’t just send violation letters. Instead, someone from the HOA board confiscated all the signs to enforce the rules.

I wonder how the next generation feels about this kind of nasty HOA overreach?


Homeowners association in California confiscates graduation yard signs, upsetting kids and parents
KOLO8 News
Updated: Wed 6:16 AM, May 20, 2020 ♦♦



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