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Tenant outraged after landlord tries to pass off HOA fine for issue they didn't know about: 'Your landlord was responsible to take action…'

"There would be no fine at all if I had been made aware of all this months ago."

“There would be no fine at all if I had been made aware of all this months ago."

Photo Credit: iStock

One Redditor found themselves in a confusing situation when their HOA and landlord started making unreasonable demands about "weeds" in their yard — specifically, milkweed.

Milkweed is a beautiful flowering plant that many gardeners incorporate into their landscaping, both for its looks and for the monarch butterflies that it attracts. Monarch butterflies are endangered, and milkweed is a vital food source for the beautiful and fragile creatures.

But this Redditor's HOA doesn't seem to have been clued in. "About two weeks ago, my landlord texted me a picture of a letter she received in the mail. The letter stated that it was her second time being notified of a weed problem in the front yard," the Redditor said. "Specifically, there are some tall milkweeds in a flowering bed that it had pictures of and it called out."

According to the Redditor, that "second notice" letter was already two months old when their landlord notified them. Despite liking the plants and not believing they were weeds, the tenant complied with their landlord's maintenance request and removed the milkweed plants within a day.

"Because she waited (about 11 weeks, assuming I can guess when she got the first letter) she tells me she incurred a $750 fine from the HOA," the Redditor said.

Unfortunately, according to their lease, they're responsible for both the yardwork and any HOA fines — a clause they believed would be unfair to apply in this case. 

"There would be no fine at all if I had been made aware of all this months ago," they said. "Is there any chance in h*** I could win this case, or am I 100% at fault here?"

Commenters were quick to point out that the landlord had a duty to mitigate the damage. "[I am not a lawyer] but I'd tell the landlord to pound sand," said one user. "Your landlord was responsible to take action according to these warnings and subsequent fines but they allowed the issue to continue for two months, not you."

"Milkweed isn't a weed and has several federal statutes recommending it to be left in place if found," another user added. "Don't know OP's state, but several states have laws prohibiting the disturbance of Monarch Butterfly habitat — including milkweed." 

In other words, it may have been illegal for the HOA to require the removal of the milkweed to begin with.

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