HOAs Do Way More Harm Than Good And It's Time To Get Rid Of Them

For the most part, I believe in leaving people well enough alone. If I don't have any reason to believe that my neighbors are harming others, then I'm probably not going to notice whatever they're doing from day to day whether I like them or not.

Of course, my neighbors haven't always shared my philosophy and would sometimes bother me about petty matters like what color of paint is on the side of my family's house or how often the hedges are trimmed. Fortunately, they don't have any power so it's easy enough to ignore them if I think they're being unreasonable.

However, my story would likely be different if my neighborhood was run by a homeowner's association.

While there may have been a good idea in there somewhere about keeping neighbors from ruining your property values by filling theirs with cars set up on blocks, it's clear that over the years, a lot of people have abused that idea beyond recognition.

As they largely exist now, homeowners associations empower your worst neighbors to make your life miserable.

As I said, any petty squabbles that your neighbors can have with you are just that so long as what you're doing doesn't violate the rules an HOA imposes on a neighborhood.

But when the types of neighbors who care about these insignificant matters take control of the HOA, the rules can gradually change around their complaints.

Reddit | AtLeastItsNotHerps

Before long, you find yourself having to care as much about the color of your house and the length of your lawn as much as they do.

So if you want to build a treehouse for your kids, let your orphaned grandson stay with you, or celebrate Pride, it's no longer your decision as to how or even whether you can do that.

And really, doesn't that defeat the purpose of owning property in the first place?

I'd tell you to imagine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house only to learn that it has to fit somebody else's vision, but there's a decent chance you don't have to.

It would be different if our behavior broke the city's actual laws, but we're talking about whether this person is allowed to put a Spongebob Squarepants sign in their window or when a family is allowed to put their Christmas decorations up.

And once again, these only become matters of concern because some neighbor who took umbrage with your personal decisions finally got the taste of power they desperately craved.

But no matter how pedantic and insignificant their complaints seem to be, there can be real consequences for ignoring them depending on where you live.

Make no mistake, a lot of HOAs are more powerful than some may realize.

Not only can homeowners associations impose fines, but those fines can balloon into liens on the house. And if you don't have the money to resolve those liens, it's not unheard of for HOAs to actually foreclose on your house.

Again, this varies by the state and even by the county, but paying hundreds of thousands for a house only to lose it thanks to unresolved HOA complaints is a very real possibility.

Arguably, this system also isn't very good even for those who love to annoy their neighbors for petty reasons.

After all, the empowerment of the pettiness, the disconnect that empowerment has with the very concept of property ownership, and the potentially ruinous consequences are a perfect recipe for malicious compliance.

For instance, take this mini-fence, about which Reddit user kalinkabeek said, "The HOA in my friend’s neighborhood recently threatened her neighbors with a fine if they didn’t hide their trash cans, even though they’ve been in the same spot for over a decade. This is their solution."

We could also see a similar result in the family who tried to fly a Pride flag only to learn that they could celebrate even more ostentatiously with lights that weren't covered by the HOA's rules.

So not only do property owners have plenty of reason to resent their neighbors for trying to get them in trouble over superficial matters, but even those neighbors won't necessarily end up satisfied if their targets read the rules more carefully than they do.

With that in mind, it really seems like the reasons to have an HOA are vastly outnumbered by the reasons not to. It doesn't matter whether I'd be welcome in their HOA because their HOA isn't welcome in my life.

Filed Under: