Posted by: Sheree R. Curry | June 30, 2009

7 Reasons You Should Decline a Home with an HOA

So, you’ve narrowed your choice of homes to purchase down to two, and as it turns out one of the homes has a home owners’ association and one does not. If you’re ticking off pros and cons of each home to help you make your final decision, here are 7 reasons why you’ll want to choose the home without the HOA.

  1. HOA’s dictate landscaping: Although an HOA might mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and that seems appealing, an HOA can also dictate what types of flowers you can and can’t plant, what times of day you can water your lawn, and even tell you it’s time to update your landscaping—even if you don’t have funds for new landscaping, you’ll still be obligated to get the work done within a certain time frame. Sonni and James Bass took too long finishing their landscaping, according to a report, and were sued by their HOA. Read the report.

    An HOA can dictate how many and what types of flowers you plant

    An HOA can dictate how many and what types of flowers you plant. One owner planted too many roses and lost his home!

  2. If you don’t comply, you will be fined. Just ask Jeffrey DeMarco. His HOA said he planted too many roses in his yard, and fined him for not removing them promptly. When Jeffrey took the matter to court, he lost, and was saddled with the HOAs $70,000 legal bill, as well as his own. (Read Jeffrey’s story.)
  3. An HOA can evict you or foreclose on your home. Ultimately Jeffrey lost his home to the bank because he couldn’t make the back payments on the late fees and the legal fees, but there are other homeowners who have lost their homes, had liens put on their property or received foreclosure notices after falling behind on their HOA dues. This happened to Lacey Pilat. About four months after she lost her job, the management company for her homeowner association sent her a foreclosure notice after several attempts to collect her $450 annual dues, which paid for the mowing of front lawns. The amount she owed grew to $1,800 after penalties and fees, according to an MSNBC report you can read here.
  4. The HOA dues can be raised at anytime. Maybe you think you can handle a $400 annual association fee, after all it amounts to less than $35 a month—less than a dinner out for two at the Olive Garden, but that fee isn’t static. HOAs can raise your dues for any number of reasons, such as assessments, lawsuits, cost of living, or simply because other homeowners aren’t paying, and those of you who are need to foot the bill. That is what happened to homeowner Robert Hanston. “The HOA told residents dues went up because more than 400 homeowners weren’t paying their dues,” Hantson said in a report for NBC.
  5. HOA fees are not tax deductible. Enough said.
  6. Want to rent out your home? Check with your HOA. They may not let you. Given the down economy, quite a few homeowners who can’t sell their properties have moved to renting them out. Some in HOA communities, however, need board approval before they can rent out their place. Some bylaws prohibit renting all together. This might not seem important to you now, after all you’re buying with the intent to make this purchase your primary home, but you just may never know what your needs will be in the future.
  7. Homeowners’ Associations can regulate many things. According to one real estate authority, it could be: Exterior paint colors, fences and hedges, trees, lawns, and weeds. Or, solar energy installations, swing sets, basketball hoops, and other play equipment.
    HOAs can say no to certain play sets, fences, sheds or even dog breeds.

    HOAs can say no to certain play sets, fences, sheds or even dog breeds.

    HOAs also could regulate garages, sheds and backyard storage, parking, clotheslines and garbage cans. Outdoor lights and satellite dishes, they also can regulate, as well as window coverings and wreaths, home businesses, pets (size, types, total number), noises and obstructions of views.

By buying a home in a subdivision, or community with a home owner’s association, you are essentially giving up some of your rights that people come to expect with homeownership. Do you really want your neighbors telling you what to do with your property?

Just how much will you have to keep up with the Joneses? Well, you just may not know until after you purchased the home. If you bought into an HOA community, you typically would not receive a copy of the HOA rules and bylaws until after you have closed on the property….and then it’s too late.

At least you know what you’re getting if you buy a home that is not overseen by an HOA: the freedom to make your own decisions about your own property. That freedom is just what you’ll get, if you were to buy this featured property, which is not governed by any associations.

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  1. […] It feels as if “Big Brother” is always watching you to see if your grass is mowed to the right level, if you planted the right types of flowers in your yard, or don’t have a pet that is oversize or of the wrong breed. For more on this, see this one homeowner’s blog entry, titled “7 Reasons You Should Decline a Home with an HOA.“ […]

  2. The advantage of an HOA is that nobody can trash the neighborhood. You get a conforming group of homeowners with similar taste.

    The overall neighborhood does not include parked SUV’s, tractor trailer trucks, campers, boats, and other assorted junked and trashed vehicles.

    Everyone mows. You don’t have a neighbor with a snakey yard.

    Nobody breeds dogs in their backyard.
    If you don’t like the HOA’s rules, you can get on the board of directors and change them.

    So, there is always an upshot. Just don’t buy more than you can afford, in general, and you will be OK.

  3. Code enforcement can keep the grass mowed in your neighborhood. Code enforcement can be called on those who have trashed or junked vehicles in their yards or driveways and they will be made to have them moved. Code enforcement can be called on those who breed dogs in their back yards. They can be made to stop. Code enforcement fines homeowners who do not comply with the county codes.

    We are in an HOA right now. They use Code Enforcement to force homeowners to live up to standards. Code enforcement fines those homeowners who don’t comply.

    • City ordinances can also accomplish all of the above without the need for an HOA. Many cities ban grass heights over a certain length, say no parking on the grass, no businesses without a license. All neighbors have to do is call the police and report the violation.

  4. […] It feels as if “Big Brother” is always watching you to see if your grass is mowed to the right level, if you planted the right types of flowers in your yard, or don’t have a pet that is oversize or of the wrong breed. For more on this, see this one homeowner’s blog entry, titled “7 Reasons You Should Decline a Home with an HOA.“ […]

  5. Just for the record folks, I was misquoted on this website… that’s me in tip #4 – our arguement with the HOA had NOTHING to do with the HOA raising rates or anything to do with rates to say that matter… they started closing down amenities and were’nt doing their job…

    Just to make it clear… not that I really care… I moved out of that god foresaken community — TODAY! WOO HOO!

  6. I lived in a neighborhood for 14 years that started out as one of the nicer areas of town.. about 10 years after moving there, I noticed it was a lot trashier than when I originally moved in. It will amaze you at how easily and quickly certain parts of town will turn sour. I wish I had at least a relaxed HOA that made sure you kept everything clean and free of clutter. I swear some of my new neighbors became hoarders who lived in filth.

    Have too many foreclosures in one area? New parts of town developing in another direction? Guess how cheap the homes around you become. To maintain the same neighbors, you must maintain the same neighborhood. Unfortunately, some people are just messy or have terrible tastes. What you live by affects how you feel about your neighborhood and resell values.

    Yes, it invades your freedom, but it also protects your best interest. They don’t have it down perfect, but it’s a pretty good step in the right direction. The largest benefit of the HOA is also its largest flaw.

  7. Our HOA sent out blanket letters that all homeowners would be required to have at least one tree in their front yard and bushes, flowers etc. without any specifics on placement or type of bush.
    Although we already had a tree and bushes, we complied within a week by adding more bushes and flowers.
    Now they have a problem with our bushes because they don’t “like it”.

    My spouse and I have begun questioning the value of home ownership, especially since it feels like we don’t really own our home.
    At every turn someone is constantly telling us what to do.

    If it isn’t the HOA it’s code enforcement and their DAILY drive by’s on our block.
    They ticket neighbors that keep pristine front yard for one thing or another.
    If the grass is an inch above where it should be on any given day- that’s a ticket.
    IF the trash can is not brought in immediately within the same day of trash pick up-that’s a ticket. The list goes on and on.

    We no longer see the point in owning a home. Our home hasn’t built any equity in the past 5 years, and yet, it always get’s appraised at a higher value for tax purposes.

    Between the tax man, HOAs, lenders and Code enforcement–they will be contributing to creating ghost towns due to higher foreclosures as a result of their actions.

    We’re putting up with it for a few more years, but there’s a good chance that we might become renters again down the road.
    If we do purchase a home again it will be paid in full–no mortgage
    in an area were property taxes are low and with NO HOAs if that is even possible in the future.
    We’ll also make sure it’s “tucked” as far away from code enforcement as possible.

  8. How about when there is water damage because they did not take the ice off a roof which I pay for outdoor maintence adn than when i have a leak inside my home they say sorry not our problem well it is their problem they shoudl have gotten the ice off the roof i also had to pay 224.00 for that? I never heard such a thing its lousy to belogn to a HOA

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