Happy Summer! It’s time again to take a break from our usual financial blog and look at some humorous HOA happenings. With residents being home more due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had a plethora of off-beat and whacky stories to choose from.

In this fourth installment of our most popular article series we once again look at the craziest things HOA boards, property managers, and residents have experienced over the last year. The BJM team scoured the internet for stories that will hopefully make you smile and lighten the mood after months of focusing on extra sanitizing, tenuous pool openings, and social distancing requirements.

2020’s Amusing HOA Stories

Trade a puzzle for a pool? To appease unhappy Manhattan condo residents being required to continue paying their more than $10,000 per month common fees, one building decided to give out free puzzles to residents who remained in the building to make up for unavailable perks.

Garage door must stay open. If you are thinking about helping out a friend by letting them live in your garage, think again. After learning one of its homeowners was allowing people to live in the garage, a California HOA started requiring residents to leave their garage doors up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The HOA assessed uncompliant residents a $200 fine.                       

No quarantine RVs. One Florida nurse battling on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic decided to move her recreational vehicle home in case she got sick and faced a sudden self-quarantine. She moved her RV from storage to her driveway in a golf community. The HOA disagreed with her assessment of a safe space and threatened fines of $100 per day, up to a total of $1,000, for the rule violation. The nurse has since moved her RV back to storage. 

Wrong color trampoline. Getting a trampoline to occupy kids during long hours at home this summer might seem like a great idea but check your HOA rules first. One HOA in the Houston area prohibits residents from installing trampolines with blue bouncy surfaces. Residents are fined $75 if their surface isn’t green or black.

Backyard pool rules. One Indiana family has been battling its HOA over the height of a backyard blow-up pool. Original HOA rules prohibited above-ground pulls, but a subsequent landscape standard allows for pools up to 2 feet tall. The family started getting letters from an attorney for the HOA and being asked to pay the association’s legal fees. Even after submitting documentation and photos that the pool met HOA guidelines and receiving a clear report from a town inspector, the HOA continued to fight the family.

Street parking prohibited – still. If you are working from home and don’t have driveway space for your car during the day, don’t assume your HOA will let street parking rules. In one Arizona subdivision, the HOA is still fining residents $250 for cars parked on the street. The HOA has noted that it is willing to work with residents who reach out in advance requesting additional parking options.

No frog flags. Don’t try to lighten the mood with a whimsical flag, particularly a frog, if you live in certain parts of South Carolina. The neighborhood only allows residents to fly the American, state, or official military flag.

Don’t mess with the trash. Lots of HOA’s have rules about trash cans but some of the more out-there ones include noon retrieval from the curb following 9 a.m. pickup, no setting cans at the curb before midnight the day of, and a holly not being enough of a privacy screen to hide a can on non-trash days.

How to Avoid Becoming an HOA Funny Story

Pandemic or not, you should know your HOA rules and follow them. Here are some tips so you can avoid becoming one of our HOA comic tales:

1) Know your covenants, conditions and restrictions – when you closed on your house and signed the HOA agreement, you agreed to abide by these or risk being fined.

2) Keep up with changes. Read the newsletter and minutes from board of director meetings.

3) Keep up with HOA finances. Know the financial health of your HOA, particularly during tough economic times. Review profitability, delinquency rates, expenditures, and reserve fund balances and studies.

4) Get along. Enjoy some extra time at home. Use this pandemic as a time to get to know your neighbors. Resolve any HOA disputes and work to keep the community peace.

Do you have any funny anecdotes based on your own HOA or community association experiences? Please let me know and we’ll include in our next addition of Amusing HOA Stories.

Have a happy and safe summer!

-Neal Bach, CPA