Homeowners Associations, also known as HOAs, are organizations that make and enforce rules for a community. Once an HOA is created, anyone who purchases property within their jurisdiction automatically becomes a member and must pay their fees. At best, HOAs keep the neighborhood orderly and upkeep certain common areas and facilities.
At worst, HOAs confine the freedom of residents to an unnecessary and sometimes ridiculous extent. For example, getting fined for sharing a towel at the pool, having the wrong style of blinds, or backing into a driveway could be infuriating. Read on for more HOA rules that are so nonsensical, you might think twice before moving into the neighborhood.
You'll Need A Permit For Those Plants
One Reddit user stated that their HOA tried to have them get architectural approval for two small potted plants they had placed at the front door. The Reddit user knew full well that since the pots weren't attached to the house and didn't "drastically" change the landscaping, the plants shouldn't have to be subject to approval.
Nevertheless, they received fines and were even sent to collections. The poor resident had to go to court over the nonsense, but ultimately won the case. On top of that, the neighbors teamed up and got a few corrupt board members kicked out.
No Towel Sharing
Reddit user 91X (the same one who had the garage dress code rule) also said that their neighborhood forbade towel sharing at the pool. Any person who was seen without a towel of their own would be fined $25.
Few people commented on this side note since the garage attire took the limelight, but we'd like to mention how insane this rule is. No one suffers from observing a towel being shared.
Don't Put The Trash Out Until Midnight
One Reddit user posted about their neighborhood's stringent rule for trash day. The trash truck would come every Thursday morning, and the rule forbade residents from putting their trash out on the curb Wednesday night. That means you'd have to either wake up early or put it out at midnight.
The user claimed that putting the trash out at 11:59 PM on Wednesday would be enough to earn you a $25 fine. It's understandable that the neighborhood wouldn't want garbage cans out for very long on pickup day, but this seems extreme.
No Blue Trampolines!
Reddit user SellSome posted that their neighborhood prohibits blue trampoline covers. More specifically, they have to be green or black. While many of the commenters were baffled by the seemingly arbitrary demand, one person replied with a possible explanation.
Baldybeardy suggested that it has to do with wildlife. They mentioned that blue AstroTurf had fooled ducks into diving into the solid surface. Hopefully, the rule didn't come from a bird problem in the past.
No Square Or Brass Doorbell Frames
Reddit user sykocus wrote that in their monthly newsletter, a page-long article described the kind of doorbell frames that were and were not acceptable. "Novelty" frames were a strict no, meaning no American flag patterns or sports team logos. Brass was also off the table.
In terms of shape, square was not permitted unless it was turned to look like a diamond. Miraculously, oval-shaped was okay despite the preference being round. We get that some people would prefer a uniform-looking neighborhood, but are doorbell frames really that much of an eyesore?
Five Minute Open Garage Limit
Imagine a friendly neighborhood in a quaint suburb. Children are playing in the cul-de-sacs, parents are gathered around chatting, and everyone knows the mailman by name. Odds are, you can also see garage doors being left open as people take in the day.
According to one Reddit user, garage doors would have to be closed in five minutes or less in their neighborhood. Any longer and you were in violation of an HOA rule. We'd like to think that the rule was created to prevent theft, but it seems more likely that such a stringent rule has more to do with aesthetics than safety.
You Need Darker Mulch
Reddit user amandatorry stated that the mulch on their property was deemed the wrong shade of red by the HOA. For anyone who isn't savvy in gardening terms, mulch is comprised of materials such as compost and bark. The substance is spread around plants to enrich the soil and enhance the look of the landscape.
Judging by the purpose mulch serves, it seems ridiculous to demand that it be a specific color. According to the user, they were fined twice because their mulch wasn't dark enough. One person replied with a helpful hint: mulch lightens when it dries. They recommended spraying it down with water and calling it a day.
Identical Mailboxes And No Street Parking
Reddit user fightinscot mentioned a neighborhood where all mailboxes had to be the exact same, meaning bought from the same person. Over the decades, homeowners were told to go to only one specific "guy" who would charge around $750!
Demanding similar mailboxes is one thing, but that rule has micromanagement written all over it. If that weren't enough, they also had the rule that no cars could be parked on the street for more than an hour. This would be a travesty in an urban area.
No More Than 15 Pounds Of Pet
Pet rules are one of the more common home regulations, but Reddit user merganzer mentioned one that seems out of the ordinary. They stated that their neighborhood's pet restriction was summed up as "no more than 15 pounds of pet."
That's pretty limiting considering that larger cats breeds can be around 25 pounds while the smallest dog breeds are 22 pounds and less. What the rule does encourage is a zoo of guinea pigs, mice, bunnies, tarantulas, and other lightweight pets. It sounds like a backfire just waiting to happen.
Cat People Only
NdYAGlady posted that in their neighborhood there are stringent rules on all pets but one: cats. Have as many felines as you'd like, but when it comes to dogs, only occupants who own the property (no renters) may have ONE dog.
When it comes to other some and furry friends, like hamsters, they are not permitted at all as they are too "exotic." It sounds like this HOA board consists of extremist cat people who dream of a neighborhood dominated by felines.
Get Your Bike Off The Balcony
One Reddit user stated that he was forbidden from keeping his bicycle on his sixth-floor balcony. For many apartment or condominium dwellers who live in high-rises, garages are a benefit they don't have. That would explain why this user's only other option was to keep the bike in his home.
While it's understandable that the HOA would be concerned about aesthetics, a line has to be drawn between curb appeal and functionality. They should be more worried about ruined floors from dirty tires than they are about a visible bike.
Designated Christmas Lights
Reddit user skeptibat wrote that their neighborhood has mandated Christmas lights colors. When a commenter inquired which colors were OK, they replied that it depends on the house number since "the HOA wants variety."
If the HOA really wanted variety, they would let the homeowners decorate however they pleased. Designating certain colors to different households is one of the most unnecessary rules yet. Next thing you know, they'll be assigning themes to each house during the holiday season.
The Fire Extinguisher Must Be Mounted
Fire extinguishers serve a vital purpose, so demanding that they are accessible in the home is completely reasonable. But since they're an eyesore, most people would prefer to place them somewhere discreet, such as under the sink or in a closet.
Reddit user CrackLawliet wrote that her community wouldn't allow this. Furthermore, they had to mount the extinguisher to the wall. Not any wall, but a wall in the kitchen. Even MORE specific, it had to be attached to the side of one of the cabinets. That's a good way to never lose track of it.
No Washers, Dryers, Or Business
One Reddit user wrote that their former neighborhood did not allow washer or dryer units inside the property. They didn't specify if there was a community laundry room or if you had to drive to a laundromat, but either way, it seems unfair to the homeowner.
Equally unfair is that the same neighborhood forbade businesses from being run out of the home. This would be an entrepreneur's nightmare. Clearly, the neighborhood wants to avoid non-residents from entering the premises, but is it so terrible to have a client drop by?
Front Screen Yes, Back Screen No
Reddit user FroggiJoy87 related one of the most backward HOA rules yet. In their neighborhood, you must have a white screen door over your front door. Of course, the screen door has to be approved by HOA.
Additionally, the screen door must remain closed at all times. This seems a little fly-obsessed, but not too bad. There's more. You are NOT allowed to have a screen door over your back door that leads to the yard. Someone please explain this logic because we're completely baffled.
We Pledge Allegiance...To The Frog
One Reddit user wrote that their parent's neighborhood was only allowed to showcase three types of flags: an American flag, the state flag (in this case, South Carolina), or a military flag. Apparently, one of their neighbors was warned multiple times by the HOA to take down their cute frog flag.
It seems like the HOA doesn't appreciate a little individuality on the block! They must have a good reason for not allowing people to put up seasonal flags. Maybe if the frog was holding one of the approved flags, it would have been okay?
White Venetian Blinds Only
One Reddit user wrote that their neighborhood only allowed white Venetian blinds on any windows that were visible from the street. While that doesn't seem like much of a demand, it became a huge pain for this homeowner because they had a cat.
The cat loved to destroy the blinds, which were especially vulnerable since Venetians are horizontal. This resulted in the HOA handing out a notice every time the blinds appeared to be in poor condition. The user claimed to have replaced the blinds a dozen times in just one year.
Garage Sale Dress Code
Reddit user 91X stated that in their neighborhood, there were two set garage sales each year, one in April and the other in September. If that wasn't enough to drive someone bonkers, there's also a dress code at said garage sales.
Everyone must wear polos and khakis while selling out of their garage. Commenters were shocked that anyone would live there, to which the user replied that it was an older community. They also added that they were merely renting.
Show Us Your Registration
One Reddit user claimed that their HOA forbade residents for parking their cars in reverse on the driveway because, "We need to see your registration sticker." Being that evaluating car registrations is not in the HOA's jurisdiction, this rule seems overreaching.
Anyone who has been late renewing their car registration can attest that worrying about police officers and high penalties is bad enough. The last thing you want is the HOA knocking on your door for something that doesn't even relate to the neighborhood whatsoever.
Overnight Guest Fee
Another Reddit user stated that their neighborhood demands a $10 fee for overnight guests. If that weren't enough, they also charge $5 if the guest uses a parking spot. Since most people drive to get places, it's safe to say you'd be out $15 if someone stays over.
Many of the responders wondered how the association would know who's in your home, especially if they didn't bring their car. Another mentioned how many variables come into play, such as someone staying until late but not the entire night. We could understand not wanting unofficial roommates flooding the neighborhood, but they could at least give a week's grace period.
Three Nights And You're Out
Another Reddit user also had a problem with the overnight guest rule. Fortunately, there wasn't a fee for overnight guests. However, they were forbidden from staying more than two consecutive nights. During the holiday season, the rule bumped up to three consecutive nights.
The rule doesn't seem too bad considering they just need to write to the HOA to inform them if it will be longer. However, if they don't, the management company would tow the guests' car(s)! We'd take a $30 guest fee over a towed car any day.
Lawn Uniformity Is Key
When you live in an HOA and have one of the board members right across the street from your house, you're in for some outlandish rules coming your way. One Reddit user and his neighbor were sent a letter saying that they had to mow their lawn on the same day.
Okay, not a horrible request -- until the board member asked for them to cut their grass at the same height and in the same pattern. Uniformity is key, after all! The Reddit user said they intentionally cut their grass on different days and did not use the same pattern.
Don't Think About Playing On The Community Field
One Reddit user wrote that her HOA dictated who was allowed to play on the field that was located in the community. They said that the board members of the HOA seemingly shut down the park overnight, with no warning or reason why. Do your kids want to play tennis? Well, you'd better prove to the board that they actually play so you can get the lock combination and the cops aren't called.
The Reddit user says that parents got in long arguments with the board, saying that it was unfair to lock-up a public park. According to Truedeal, "it became a war in the community."
Too Many Cars In The Driveway
If you have a family and everyone has a car, then you're going to have more than one or two cars on your property. This Reddit user wrote that the HOA board members wrote them up because they had too many cars in their driveway. Not on the curb, street, or anything of the like. But in their personal driveway!
The Reddit user went on to say that the reason for the four to five cars was because they had just moved long distance, and friends and family had come to help. Give them a break, HOA! A mean letter is not the way to welcome someone to the neighborhood.
House Paint Better Be One Of Seven Specific Shades
One Reddit user wrote that their HOA demands each house be a specific paint shade. Ironically, the seven shades that the board lists are all a particular brand that -- wait for it -- isn't sold in normal hardware stores! All these people wanted to do is put a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of their house!
One can only hope that the HOA at least gives the community a discount or something. Even so, there is no reason to have restrictions on paint color and brand!
Your Dog Leash Best Be The Correct Length
In one community, a Reddit user witnessed the HOA trying to take peoples' dogs away. Their reasoning? Leashes were either too long or too short, and that just isn't okay. In one instance, the HOA called animal control on a former military man. As you can imagine, a war ensued, and the HOA did not win the fight.
How can you call animal control on people who have their dogs leashed? Having a lead that isn't the exact measurements they prefer is no reason to take a member of someone's family away. Might as well walk the dog in a stroller and see what the HOA says about that!
Trick-Or-Treating Has Been Canceled On Account Of Safety
One Reddit user wrote that the HOA banned trick or treating in their community, making it so families had to drive somewhere else if they wanted to take their kids out. According to the head of the HOA, the ban was enforced for everyone's safety. Can we agree that makes no sense?
Trick or treating is a fun Halloween activity for the kids. Now, you're making people drive to other communities and find parking, all while playing dodge-the-sugar-buzzed-kids with their cars. Not exactly what one would call "keeping people safe."
Don't Think About Planting Too Many Roses
Jeffery DeMarco of Rancho Santa Fe, California, was targeted by his HOA for breaking one of the most ridiculous rules. He had planted one too many rose bushes in his yard. Apparently, the HOA in the area has decided on a certain number of allowed bushes on a four-acre property.
To make matters worse, the HOA fined DeMarco monthly and brought the situation all the way to the court. Unfortunately, the court sided with the HOA, saying that DeMarco was violating the community rules. He was forced to pay the HOA's $70,000 legal fines, resulting in him losing his home to the bank.
Dog Paws Are Not Allowed To Touch The Floor
Pamela McMahan ran into an HOA rule in her community that said she had to carry her dog through her condominium's lobby or else be fined $25. Now, Pamela is elderly and walks using a cane; she could risk hurting herself by carrying her pooch across the floor.
Stormy Jech, the building's assistant property manager, said, "there are just too many things going on in the lobby," as reasoning for the ridiculous rule. After racking up hundreds of dollars in debt, poor Pamela was forced to move out of her condo.
No Old Cars
One Reddit user wrote that their HOA tried to enforce a "your car is too old to be sitting in the driveway" rule. The user says that even though the car is old, it is always clean, has no visible dirt, and there is no rust on the paint.
At least there is a happy ending for this Reddit user. They brought the case to court, and the judge ordered a full audit of HOA rules and regulations in the area. The old car won due to the rule being a shame and not enforceable in the slightest.
Bah-Humbug Is The Name Of The Holiday Light Game
If you're planning on going all Christmas Vacation with your holiday light set up, think again. Some HOAs have strict holiday light regulations in place to make sure everyone in the community is just as miserable as they are during the holidays.
While some boards ban lights altogether, others have restrictions on how many you're allowed to put up and how often you're allowed to turn them on. Take a pro tip from us: read your HOA's rules before going out and buying a million sets of lights. It might save you some money to buy more presents.
No Pickup Trucks In The Driveway
One HOA in Houston has some bizarre rules, one of which dictates what type of car you're allowed to have parked in your driveway. If you're a proud owner of a pickup truck, make sure you park it in your garage and not in your driveway.
We're not sure why this is a rule, only that it is a bit absurd that they are telling people what type of car is allowed to be parked in their personal driveway. But aesthetic is aesthetic and all that jazz.
No Hummingbird Feeders
If you're a bird lover and enjoying seeing the feathered friends around your garden, don't move to Houston! One HOA has a rule that bans anyone from putting up a hummingbird feeder. With Houston being an ideal climate from the tiny birds, it's amazing that the HOA doesn't want residents to put up feeders.
This begs the question of whether or not people are allowed to install regular bird feeders in their yards. Honestly, we're not sure we would risk getting fined!
Basketball Hoops Cannot Be On A Garage That's Attached To Your House
If you enjoy going outside and shooting some hoops in the privacy of your own driveway, then make sure your garage is not attached to your main house. In Houston, Texas, the HOA has a rule that prohibits people from installing basketball hoops to their garage if it is attached to the house.
On the flip side of the coin, if your garage is not attached, then you are more than welcome to have a basketball hoop. Our question is, what in the world is the difference? A hoop is a hoop!
Mailboxes Should Be Squeaky Clean
If you can even believe it, another HOA in Houston has a rule that makes residents wash their mailboxes on a regular basis. This ridiculous rule doesn't seem to take into account rusting that happens due to the elements, and paint that begins to chip if it's washed on a regular basis.
Not to mention, it's a mailbox! Of all the things you can fight for, mailbox washing should not be one of them. We wonder who ended up passing that rule. They're probably the least popular person in the community.
Put Curtains In The Windows Of Second Floor Rooms
One HOA horror story survivor wrote that his association told him that he needed to put up curtains in the windows of all the rooms on his second floor. The reason behind the request is almost as ridiculous as the request itself. Some of his neighbors complained to the HOA that they could see the second-floor furniture through the windows.
Solution: don't look through your neighbor's windows! And if you have an issue with your neighbor's lack of decor, don't go tattling to the HOA. They tend to thrive on complaints such as "furniture can be seen through the window."
Keep Your Garage Door Open All Day
Believe it or not, the Auburn Greens HOA in California might have one of the most head-scratch-worthy rules. They've mandated that homeowners must leave their roll-up garage doors wide open from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon Monday through Friday. If someone fails to comply, they're fined a hefty $200.
There are more than a few questions for the HOA regarding this rule. The first being what if no one is home between those hours? Apparently, that doesn't matter, and people are supposed to trust the general public not to rifle through their storage space.
No Hurricane Shutters
One Florida resident was in shock when their HOA banned the year-round use of hurricane shutters. In a state that is very prone to strong storms, this rule is actually pretty dangerous. Residents are only allowed to put the shutters on their homes right before a storm and then remove them once everything has calmed down.
The HOA seems to think a hurricane is going to wait around for people to install shutters. The "eyesore" is very much worth it if it means saving one's home.
Line-Drying Laundry Is A Big No-No
Who cares if drying laundry on a line outside smells wonderful and saves a boatload of energy? The HOA thinks that utilizing a laundry drying-line is an eyesore and will fine residents who decide to make use of the spring and summertime sunlight and heat.
Especially in places that tend to have rolling blackouts because of heatwaves, this very well might be the only way they are able to dry their clothing. Also, this rule makes it seem like the HOA doesn't care about family income. Line-drying is practically free!
Shingles Must Be Uniform
One man in Florida wrote that the HOA did not care that a plane fell out of the sky and landed on his home. All they cared about was fining him because the shingles on his roof were no longer uniform.
In this instance, it feels like the HOA has zero remorse for a man who went through a life-changing experience and now has to remodel his entire house. All they care about is the homes on the street looking just the same. We hope the man decided to move!