Wednesday, May 6, 2009

HOA Boundaries

I never heard of an HOA until we moved to Florida. Then suddenly, while we were looking at houses, we were told we had to consider the HOA fees when making our decision. What's an HOA? That's a homeowners' association. The homeowners in a subdivision hire a board to oversee the common areas of a subdivision. The idea is to make sure that the entrance and/or playground or pool (whatever the subdivision has) is well-maintained and attractive. It's a nice idea, but unfortunately it can get out of hand.
Some people seem to let the power of the board go to their heads. Or maybe our subdivision just doesn't have enough to keep the board busy. After all, we have no pool. Anyway, it's not uncommon to get a letter from the "Yard Nazis". These letters are generally faux polite. They inform you of a breach you've made in the HOA rules and give you a deadline to fix it. The letter also politely states that if it's not fixed within that time period, they will be forced to take further action.
Technically, it's in the contract when you buy a house. If there's an HOA, you agree to pay the fees to maintain the HOA and abide by the rules. Basically, we pay people to tell us when it's time to cut the lawn. That's right. We've gotten letters that tell us our yard needs mowing. Or edging. Or our plant beds need to be weeded. Or our bushes cut back. Or we left our garbage cans in plain view. Typically, between the time they've spotted something and the time we get the letter, the problem is usually taken care of. But still ...
And then there are the crazy rules. We can't paint our house without HOA approval. They get final say on what colors we can use. Don't want our house clashing with the others in the neighborhood. Even if we want to repaint the outside of the house the same color, we're supposed to get permission. We also need permission before doing any extensive landscaping, such as planting trees or adding a garden. There are rules for fences. And screened in rooms with pools. The list goes on and on, and the board adheres to the nonsense as if the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
Just yesterday we got a letter from the Yard Nazis. But this letter was to everyone in the subdivision. In an extremely sarcastic manner (and believe me, I know sarcasm when I see it) the letter pointed out that some spring cleaning needed to be done in the yards. Dead grass and dead plants, trees, or leaves, damaged from the "severe" frost we had this winter need to be cared for, removed or replaced. Grass needed to be mowed and lawns edged. Flower beds weeded. The list went on and on. It finished by saying that they would be going through the neighborhood the middle of this month to check up on compliance.
Our response? One of the things the letter complained about was mildew on the outside of houses and on driveways and sidewalks. We have a pressure washer. So my son is making up fliers to pass out throughout the subdivision, offering to pressure wash driveways and houses--for a fee, of course. We could actually make some pretty good money out of this if others are afraid of the Yard Nazis.
Most subdivisions in this area have HOA's. And most HOA's are this fanatical about their duties. I've considered running for president of the HOA. It is an elected position. But their monthly meetings are on Wednesday night and we have prayer meeting. Besides, as bad as my yard looks, I doubt I'd have much chance of winning. Maybe if I ran on a campaign of "To Each His Own". Or "You ignore my bushes, I'll ignore your garbage cans".
Sounds like a campaign slogan to me.
By the way, I got this picture off the internet. It's not my house. Although I think it's a good bet that the HOA president lives there.

1 comment:

  1. I think that HOA's sound like unions. They're started for a good reason with a good purpose and in a blink of an eye they become monsters! Hope your boys can make some money off of this!


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