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Draconian HOA destroys hand-planted garden over a 4-inch mistake: 'You have to sue them'

The HOA also said the homeowners "lost the privilege to have a garden this year."

Homeowners HOAs, Garden

Photo Credit: iStock

One Redditor recently shared how their girlfriend's family is struggling against a restrictive HOA that has forbidden them from planting a garden.

The original poster tells the story on a subreddit dedicated to frustrating HOA problems. "This information is coming from a text my GF received from her father, so I don't know the rules in detail," they explain.

They then go on to share that the HOA's rules do allow gardens, but the space can only be a maximum of eight feet by eight feet. The original poster says he and his girlfriend's father measured out a plot, tilled the soil, added compost, and planted a careful selection of seeds to ensure none of the plants would exceed the HOA's four-foot height limit. 

But "we must have accidentally expanded it when tilling," the poster says — because when inspectors came from the HOA to measure the garden bed, they say it was four inches too long.

The original poster explained that their neighbor was upset that "the garden was bordering her property and complained to her friend on the HOA board." 

For the tiny infraction, the HOA issued a $350 fine. Worse, it also demanded that the family cover the garden with sod "because they 'lost the privilege to have a garden this year'" — and if the family failed to comply, the HOA threatened even more fines.

This is far from the first time a Redditor has been targeted by an HOA over eco-friendly additions to their home and yard. 

One user recently complained that their local HOA had effectively banned them from having solar panels, while another user's mother was ordered to remove potted plants that were allowed in other neighbors' yards. Another poster even claims the HOA stole their compost bin

All of these features save homeowners money and help reduce pollution, but many HOAs seem more concerned with the uniform appearance of the neighborhood.

However, homeowners can fight back. 

"An HOA's powers come from the 'Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions' on file with your county recorder's office (sometimes called the 'record of deeds')," one commenter explains. "If you believe an HOA is acting outside the powers given to it by the CC&Rs of your property, you have to sue them." 

Other commenters recommend checking the rulebook. "For one, there should probably have been a warning issued; for another, there should be a way to dispute any violations and a timetable for those disputes."

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