Let’s face it, HOAs can be a pain. They have tons of rules and restrictions, and some HOA boards are very strict when it comes to enforcing policy. They can charge fees, request that you change aspects of your property, require mandatory inspections, and in some cases, HOAs can legally place a lien against your mortgage or a foreclosure on a property.
You should act sooner rather than later so that it doesn’t come to that. If you want to prove a point to your HOA board members or just annoy them a little, but in a legal way that technically isn’t against the rules, then this post is for you.
It might take some time to develop some of these schemes, but it can be worth it.
Know the Contract & Rules Like the Back of Your Hand
Knowledge is power working with an HOA, so make sure you read the entire contract. Understand all of the rules and where they apply. Reading the contract, you might be able to find loopholes that you can use to annoy your HOA board members without actually breaking any rules.
Some rules are not well written or are vague enough that you can interpret them openly and still be compliant. For instance, you could paint every outside wall a different ‘approved’ color. This would annoy the HOA, but you wouldn’t be technically breaking any rules unless it specifies that all walls must be the same color.
Wait for Them To Break Their Own Rules
Plus, if you know all the rules you might be able to catch a member of the HOA board breaking protocol and reporting it.
Get Copies of HOA Statements
Furthermore, you can demand copies of your HOA’s financial statements and meeting minutes. You have a right to your HOA’s financial statements and meeting minutes as a homeowner. The best part about this scheme is whether or not you actually read them, you are bound to annoy your HOA board just by asking for them. At the very least, it will make your board a little more paranoid.
Install Satellite Dishes or Solar Panels on Your Roof
You can really get under your HOA’s skin by adding some state-protected devices on your roof like satellite dishes or solar panels. These will vary by state, so make sure you know your state’s laws before you get any dishes or solar panels.
Whether radio, TV, or other antennas, it’s illegal for an HOA to regulate satellite dishes because they are protected by federal law; however, your HOA will likely hate you having satellite dishes on your roof.
Similarly, you can install solar panels in many states as protected items. Many states protect a homeowner’s right to install a ‘solar energy system’ or something similar and although the exact state law terminology varies, it means you can get away with something your HOA isn’t going to like.
Some states that have these protections include Oregon, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Put Up Religious Symbols or Political Signs
Your HOA cannot legally discriminate against religion or single out a specific religion, so if you want to annoy them try putting up religious symbols around your yard. The Fair Housing Act protects against HOA rules that single out a specific religion.
So put out a nativity scene, a cross, or any other religious symbol. There have been cases where HOAs have tried to fine households for displaying religious signs and symbols on their porch, but you have the right to fight back and if it does end up in court (worst case scenario), you have precedent on your side and are likely to win.
Additionally, as a U.S. Citizen, you have a right to share your political views and to vote. However, your HOA community may still have rules for displaying political affiliations, but even if they do there is usually a period during voting season where you are allowed to display political signs.
You can check your HOA’s CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) for when those dates are and, if you are trying to really annoy your HOA board, go crazy with your political signs during that time.
Plant Native Plants
Some states have protected plants that no HOA can remove, even if your front yard starts looking like a weed garden. This trick will depend on your state, and you’ll have to search for a list of your state’s protected plants.
You can plant these protected plants wherever you like in your yard, and likely really annoy your HOA. Here’s an example of someone in Texas who planted wildflowers and was given a warning by their HOA. Make sure you plant the right types of flowers and educate your board if needed.
Often HOAs want to ban clotheslines because they are not the prettiest thing to see outside your home. In fact, according to some counts, over half of HOAs restrict or ban clotheslines.
However, dry lining clothing saves money, protects the environment by reducing pollution, and extends the life of your laundry. So, over a dozen states protect hanging clothes outside to dry including in California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, Main, Maryland, and Vermont.
Check the full list of states here. If you live in one of those states and your HOA bans clotheslines, then their rule is illegal.
If your HOA has an illegal ban on hanging clothing, then you can annoy them by bringing it to their attention. If they fight back, you may need to get a lawyer involved to protect your rights.
However, in this case, the law is on your side so worst case scenario you have a court case that ends up setting a precedent in your state.
Abuse The Amenities
Many HOA communities have nice perks like pools and spas, tennis courts, fitness centers, and playgrounds. You have access to these as a resident and the HOA is responsible for upkeep. The HOA might have certain hours about when these amenities are open, and some common areas require reservations.
However, most of the time you can still technically follow the rules while abusing these amenities. For instance, make reservations for the common areas as many days as your HOA allows. Invite friends over to enjoy them with you (if allowed) and host a party. If you do this frequently enough, your HOA is sure to be annoyed.
Break it Down from the Inside
If you are highly annoyed with your HOA, you can try to disband them or get on the board, so you have more control. It’s going to take some effort, and either way, you’ll need to win over your neighbors, but if you can get enough neighbors also fed up with the HOA to back you then you can make change with your votes.
Join the HOA
If you can’t beat them, join them. You can run to be on the board of directors for your HOA which will give you a little more power in negotiating with them. One annoyed neighbor says they joined the board just to redline all the rules and point out everything outdated or vague. Their HOA board was not happy, but the resident got their point across.
Try to Disband or Vote out the HOA
If nothing else is working, as a member of the HOA you have a right to vote against your board members when an election rolls around. You also have the right to vote to disband the HOA. You can even encourage your neighbors to vote against them by going door to door or mailing flyers.
In some cases, you can even offer to vote as a proxy for your neighbors.
Bring In A Lawyer
Worst case scenario, you may need to get a lawyer involved to fight for your rights. If you cannot solve problems with your HOA board, the next step is to involve a lawsuit in civil court.
However, court cases are expensive and may cost you even if you win. But your HOA will probably divide their lawsuit expenses amongst you and your neighbors.
Additionally, HOA rules are controlled by your state’s law, and every state is different. A lawyer will help you navigate the law and determine if you have a case or not. In some of the scenarios mentioned above, HOA rules are illegal, and your board just needs to update the rules. In other cases, there is no precedent, and your lawsuit would set the future precedent.
But if you do want to beat your HOA in court or in general, make sure to keep everything in writing, know the rules yourself, and remain as kind as you can. This will help you advance your cause and will be advantageous if you do end up going to court. Additionally, you need to keep paying your dues so that you do not build up late fees and fines.