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Homeowner dumbfounded to discover mounting late fees from HOA, unbeknownst to them: 'Classic HOA maneuver'

"This is why I will never live in an HOA again."

"This is why I will never live in an HOA again."

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner was frustrated to receive a fine from their HOA months after the fact, without any prior warning.

"[I] got the quarterly newsletter with next half's bill (billed semiannually) and was surprised to see a fine for weeds from June," they said in a post about the issue in an anti-HOA subreddit. "This was prior to last billing cycle, but was never on my last bill. Also I never received any fine in the mail."

Not only that, but during this period when this homeowner had no way of knowing about the fine, it was already starting to snowball. 

"They have been charging a late fee (three times the fine) for the last six months without any notice," said the Redditor. "I'm p***** off."

HOAs across the country have the power to set standards for residents' yards — including requiring lawns and forbidding plants they consider weeds. However, those rules can be burdensome for many homeowners and prevent them from pursuing more affordable, easier lawn alternatives.

For example, native plant landscaping, which may incorporate those same "weed" species that HOAs hate, is a fantastic way to save money and time, since those plants grow well without extra water or care in the local weather conditions. Native plants also act as food and shelter for many local animal, bird, and insect species, including important pollinators.

HOAs across the country have been caught hindering the implementation of eco-friendly advancements. This includes everything from homeowners battling to install solar panels to HOAs trying to block the switch to native lawns. This resistance can have significant consequences for our environment, stalling the much-needed progress in residential sustainability.

Some states protect homeowners' right to grow native plants or choose other money-saving options, such as clover or xeriscaping. But in other areas, owners have an uphill battle to change HOA rules and get their dream garden designs approved.

This time, commenters recommended that the homeowner start by finding out what rules are already in place. "Read your CCRs," said one user. "It should say how fines are to be sent for notification. If you can prove notice was never properly done, you may have a resolution."

"Classic HOA maneuver," said another commenter. "Mine couldn't produce a single signed letter or proof of mailing at all, but I did actually have to file suit against them to make it go away … This is why I will never live in an HOA again."

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