Did you know that Homeowners Associations first emerged in the United States in the mid 1800's? In North Carolina there are over 17,935 homeowner associations. Collectively, this represents over 2,025,000 households or 53% of the owner occupied households in the state. It also represents tens of thousands of volunteers that serve on association boards and committees.
It’s very important to know the laws of your land and your neighborhood. Both governments and homeowners associations can impose powerful—and sometimes incredibly strange—restrictions and requirements. Some of these fines can be pretty costly.
Luckily none of these seven crazy examples of laws and HOA rules are local:
1. Can’t park your car in your own driveway In Odessa, Fla., a resident was fined by his board for parking his pickup truck in his own driveway because it wouldn’t fit in his garage. Not our problem, the HOA basically told him before slapping him with a lawsuit. After a protracted legal battle, he has since won the right to park his car, but only after two years and $200,000 in legal fees.
2. Don’t plant too many roses While foreclosure is an increasingly real threat to homeowners, few expect to lose their house based on gardening infractions. But that’s exactly what happened to a Rancho Santa Fe, California, resident who planted too many roses on his property. After $70,000 in fees, he lost his legal battle against the HOA and ultimately lost his home to the flower debacle.
3. Indoor drying only As seen in a Colbert Report expose, a Bend, Oregon, resident was shocked by her HOA’s rejection of her outdoor clothesline. Her natural drying method was dubbed a hazard, and they began levying fines that totaled nearly $1,000. She eventually took down the offending line, even after the Right 2 Dry movement got behind her.
4. No mothers-in-laws allowed If you’re a married man in Iowa, the government grants you a special privilege: you’re allowed to bar your mother-in-law from your home. While certainly useful to men trying to ditch their spouse’s mom, this law does not extend to women.
5. Only use sanctioned paint What appears to be an inoffensive pale blue house has caused a stir recently in one Georgia neighborhood. Unaware of his HOA’s rules, a homeowner painted his house before having the color officially approved by his board. And with a $25 per day fee levied every day his house bares the offending hue, he’s already racked up $6,800 in fines on top of legal fees.
6. No service dog for the hearing impaired Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, a Fort Collins, Colorado, HOA fined a hearing-impaired resident for keeping Pookee, her Pomeranian service dog. The HOA even threatened to put a lien on the property.
7. Don’t use ‘inconsistent’ shingles As if it wasn’t tragedy enough when a plane fell out of the sky destroying a Sanford, Florida, man’s home, his HOA then challenged his rebuilding efforts. It threatened litigation because the shingles and elevation in his new house’s plans didn’t match his neighbors’.
Our suggestion: Make sure you understand the HOA or condo association rules before you purchase the property. Your real estate agent will have access to searches and neighborhood covenants if you need help. Another source is HOA-NC. HOA-NC is dedicated to providing resources that promote a better understanding of townhome, condominium, and single family homeowner associations in North Carolina.