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Arbitrary HOA sends selective desist letter over plants 'almost identical' to neighbor's: 'I've lived here for 4 years'

"You can contest via your violation process."

HOA demands renter remove their own plants

Photo Credit: iStock

A frustrated Redditor recently posted to complain that their homeowner association (HOA) had suddenly demanded they remove the plants on their patio after having them there for four years.

An HOA has broad authority to decide what yards and home exteriors should look like in its neighborhood. Restrictions on gardens and potted plants are common. However, the rules aren't always enforced in a way that makes sense to residents.

This Redditor certainly seemed confused by the feedback they got. "I'm in an upstairs condo," they explained in their post. "I've lived here for four years. I've had plants on my patio ledge the entire time."

But after years without a problem, they suddenly received pushback. "I just got a desist letter, saying that there are absolutely no plants allowed on the ledge of the condo patios," the Redditor said, adding an eye roll emoji.

Their annoyance is understandable since, according to them, "At least 20% of the condos here have elaborate gardens on the ledges." In a comment, they added, "The neighbor on the mirror unit on the same side of the building has almost identical plants … Mine is behind a tree from the street and theirs are very visible." Yet as far as they could tell, only they had been reported.

It may seem insignificant, but even having one pollinator-friendly plant in a pot on your balcony can help make your area more friendly for bees, butterflies, and other critters who protect our food supply at a time when their habitats are being destroyed. 

Thankfully, since this Redditor's plants were in pots, they were able to move them temporarily while they worked on the issue. However, they weren't sure about what to do next.

"You can contest via your violation process," said one commenter, who suggested that it might help to point out that the rule wasn't being applied fairly between different units.

However, another commenter had a more cynical take. When they learned that the original poster was a renter rather than an owner, they asked, "The other units that have plants on the balconies, are they owner-occupied? HOAs love to selectively enforce rules against renters."

The bottom line was that the HOA's rules determined what the original poster could do next. 

"This is where you need to read your CC&Rs," said a third user, referring to the legal document that contains "covenants, conditions, and restrictions" for the HOA and the homes in it.

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