Craziest Homeowners Association Laws

Get to know your neighbors

That used to be such wise advice handed out by law enforcement organizations. But times have changed, times have changed. These days it’s far more important to your safety and your financial health to get to know your neighborhood rules. (I continue to collect examples of such rules, so please feel free to contact me with new ones!)

The rules

Some New York co-ops don’t want just any itinerant artist in the building, only art projects officially approved by the board.

In some HOAs….no high heels. (understandable)

In an HOA in Iowa…no visits by a mother-in-law! (Actually, that’s a marvelous excuse. One could get to like that rule)

No smoking in your own home or any place on your property. (Increasingly common, and backed up by court after court)

No outdoor laundry drying. (Very common. Lady in ‘enviro-friendly’ Oregon fined a thousand bucks.)

No cross or other Christian symbol near or on your from door or visible from the street. (gotta erase any remnant of Jesus)

No Mezuza or any other Jewish symbol visible from the street. (court cases up the wazoo)

Absolute restriction on the number of rose bushes (famous case which cost one poor sucker his house)

No lemonade stands (remember the rule against home-based businesses? Besides, who wants snotty nosed kids visible from the street?)

Kids may not play outside. (Unbelievable, but this is a current case involving some Florida Homeowners Associations!)

Please, please, I’m a glutton for punishment. If you’re all steamed up about some stupid HOA rule, please drop me a line. I’ve heard most of them, but am always looking for more. You’ll see a ton of them in my upcoming book, Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association, but I need volunteers in my anti-HOA army!

Talk to me at

Ward Lucas

Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

0 thoughts on “Craziest Homeowners Association Laws

  1. The Right To Own Your Own Home

    “A homeowners association is deemed helpful in the community but they have their own bad side.”

    Deemed helpful by who? The professional H.O.A. vendors who feed off the homeowners?

    H.O.A.s and restrictive covenants (the rules) are two different things. It is not necessary to have an H.O.A. to have neighborhood rules.

    See (a section I’ll be writing more about as time permits)

    If a homeowner is violating some section fo the covenants, there is nothing stopping another homeowner, or group of homeowners, from taking the offending homeowner to court.

    The difference is that without an H.O.A., they would have to front the legal expenses themselves — which means nobody is going to sue unless it’s pretty important (ie, actually causing damage to your property). No more lawsuits for things like having your garage door open, parking your car in your driveway, having the wrong color mailbox or flowers, etc.

    Also, since there is no power to fine, the plaintiffs would not be able to claim fines as damages.

    Nor would the defendant homeowner be forced to pay for the plaintiff’s legal expenses up front, as he currently does now through his dues.

    Contrast with how H.O.A.s enforce rules now. Due to the perverse incentives of the system, H.O.A.s have every motivation to sue for trivial amounts and reasons, because they can impose limitless fines on homeowners, and then claim those fines as “damages.” The H.O.A.’s lawyers and property managers who profit from this have every incentive to encourage conflict, strife, and litigation within a community.

    And because the H.O.A.’s board members don’t bear the cost of litigation themselves, but pass the costs on to every other homeowner, they have no incentive to control the Association’s legal costs.

    After the stock market crash of 2008, the phrase “moral hazard” entered common usage. But anyone who has suffered in an H.O.A. was already well aware of the concept.

    By what stretch of the imagination are these unnecessary H.O.A.s deemed “helpful”?


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