February 17, 2024 at 1:44 pm

HOA Gave New Homeowner Grief Over Trash Can Rules, So They Took Down The Association From The Inside

by Matthew Gilligan

Source: Reddit/AITA/Unsplash/@filtergrade

Here we go again…

It’s another story from Reddit about people in a Homeowners Association (HOA) who were too big for their britches.

But this tale has a twist!

And we think you’re gonna love it!

Read on to get all the details!

How I gutted my HOA.

“A few years ago, I bought my first house in a medium-size (500-1000 homes) neighborhood in a southern state.

It had an HOA, but I actually picked the neighborhood because they had the lowest HOA dues in the city, the fewest rules, and the house was by far the nicest one I could afford in my budget.

They got a surprise.

After a few weeks, I get a violation notice from the HOA telling me that I had two violations needing correction:

My lawn was not green enough.

My trash cans were too close to my driveway.

I was thoroughly confused about #1 as it was February, in the middle of winter, so of course my lawn was **** (like pretty much everyone else’s), so I had assumed that either this was a mistake or an existing offense from the previous owner.

As for the trash cans, I kept them on the side of my house and I think when the HOA came by, my trash cans stuck out past the side wall ~1 foot, so HOW DARE I?! I shrugged them off and continued on.

And there was more…

Come March, I got another notice, this time fining me for both violations. Each one cost me $100 and they wanted the money in two weeks. I. was. mad.

This has made no sense and I was not about to let them just try and get money for BS violations. So, I called the management company that worked with the board to get them appealed. The lady told me that I needed to appeal directly to the board, and that I could do so in the next annual meeting in a few days.

So, I of course showed up to the meeting. Prior to it starting, I met with a few homeowners and learned that they were all there for similar garbage violations, and were ****** off too. I then talked with one of the members of the board about the fine appeals process.

This guy was gonna be a problem.

He was older guy in his 70’s with short grey hair and a very worn and angry face. He asked what I was getting fined for, and when I told him, he just looked at me and said: “And you should get fined for that. Young people like you not taking care of their homes is the whole reason I got on this board. Learn to be a better property owner.”

This dude was the VP of a volunteer board telling me that I did not know how to take care of my house. What a sad life.

The meeting then started and the moderator mentioned that since this was an annual meeting, we would be voting on 3/5 board members. They had some applicants to the board, and we could also nominate someone today. That’s when I had the idea of how I could get my revenge.

This was gonna be good!

When the election part of the meeting came, I nominated myself, gave some speech about HOAs are not here to make money and that I wanted to serve my community. I won in a landslide, and you could see the board members getting annoyed because they had scowled during my speech.

After the meeting, I appealed my violations (in a very elegant way) and they agreed to waive my trash can violation. As for the grass one, apparently since I had weeds growing in my yard (like tiny patch in the corner), they were still fining me because the weeds were turning yellow after I sprayed them. I was dumbfounded how they could get away with this, but they used a technicality in the bylaws that I had signed, so I ended up losing $100.


I will be honest, I had not expected this too work. After joining the board (of 5, including myself), I was appointed secretary and had to help maintain meeting notes and review records.

Things were about to change.

They specifically told me that I was not allowed to propose new policies, but I could vote on new ones proposed by the VP or President (which I later learned was actually a violation of their own rules). I voted every new rule down as long as I was in that position. I decided that my best course of action was to listen to how the others operated, and look for an opening to get each of them off the board.

The first opening came when the President (who literally looked like the most Karen woman ever) mentioned that she had wanted to fine for flowers that were not “neutral” color.

Basically, if a homeowner wanted to add something like turquoise flowers, we would fine them. She apparently had a neighbor that had flowers that she didn’t like, and she wanted to use the board to stop them. It was pretty insane. I then started my revenge on her. I started a message thread (on Slack since that’s how we communicated) with the other board members and asked what they had thought about her policy and reasoning.

See ya later!

After far too much deliberation (two of them honestly thought that this was ok), we agreed that the policy went too far. I then made a long post in the main channel telling her that her actions were not only wrong, but that she should be excused from the board. When she inevitably flipped out, I called a board meeting in the following week, and the other 4 board members voted her off for targeting a community member for personal gain.

She gave a sob story about how the board was her life and that the neighborhood was like her child, but I didn’t care. That was one down. I \ convinced one of my good neighbor friends to join a little later on to take her spot.

The next members I targeted were the treasurer and director, as I wanted to save the VP for last. They were actually pretty easy to get off the board because they were very easily swayed by public opinion. So, I made a fake account on Nextdoor and waited until Spring (when most of the violations go out).

When the letters went out, I looked for angry posts on Nextdoor. I then would comment on each one giving them the first names of the two board members as the culprits and told them to come to the next HOA meeting to appeal. It worked far better than I had expected. During the next meeting, over 50 people showed up and called out those by name.

It was working!

It was glorious. During the open session, community members grilled those two for their poor policies (even though they did not make most of them). The VP (now president after the other one resigned) tried to defend them, but ultimately failed.

The two members were so distraught after the meeting, and I told them that maybe they should resign, and they both did. That was two more down (both of which were replaced by a couple who came to the same meeting and wanted to get rid of these rules).

There was one more to go…

Finally, the board had been flipped to 4 out of 5 people wanting to get rid of all these dumb rules. The president however, was still same old angry man. He tried to add more rules to increase violation revenue and we voted him down every time.

He started to get annoyed, but stayed steadfast to the board. I tried a lot of tactics to get him to leave, and not much swayed him. A few months went by and we started with a new management company. They had a much better style of property management and a website for looking through our community’s records as well as automated reports.

Well, look at that!

When we got our first fines report, I hit pay dirt. The President’s house appeared, and he owed around $10,000! Apparently he had open violations that he had never paid and the other management company hid it from the board for him (since he had been on the board for close to 7 years). So, I looked into remedies.

Since his fines were over $3,000, our bylaws stated that a majority vote of the board could start an HOA foreclosure on the home (which I still think is INSANE that HOAs can do that…). So, I got all the docs together and double-checked with the new management company that the fines were correct, which they confirmed. I called an emergency board session, presented the information, and 4/5 of us voted to start the foreclosure process. The president got angry, cursed, and left the meeting early.

We were informed a few days later that the President had resigned, paid his fine, and put his house up for sale. While I am sad we couldn’t force a foreclosure, at least he was off the board.

I am currently president to this day, and I have reduced the fining policy to be a maximum of $400 and home owners can appeal any time that they wish digitally. In addition, I have banned any grass fines until May, and trash can violations have been super relaxed.

Morale of the story: never fine me $200, call me a stupid young kid, and expect to not lose your house.”

Check out how folks responded on Reddit.

One Reddit user loved this story.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another person hit the nail right on the head.

Source: Reddit/AITA

This individual sees this behavior in other places, too.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another Reddit user’s sister took care of business.

Source: Reddit/AITA

And this reader said this needs to happen more often.

Source: Reddit/AITA

You gotta love it!

Nicely done!

If you liked that story, check out this post about a group of employees who got together and why working from home was a good financial decision.