One homeowner who was just trying to be a responsible citizen said they got dragged into a monthslong legal dispute by their homeowner’s association.
It’s not unusual for HOAs to oppose eco-friendly home upgrades, like solar panels, that might change the property’s appearance. Those rulings are bad enough, but sometimes they can get downright unreasonable over completely invisible changes that only benefit the neighborhood.
This Redditor said that’s what happened to them. “I set out to build an underground rainwater cistern to capture rainwater to irrigate my lawn,” they explained in their post. “HOA tried to make me remove my rainwater cistern.”
According to the original poster, they researched the project before starting and found they didn’t need a permit from the town. Not only that, but both the town and the state actively encouraged the use of rainwater collection systems.
So they chose a location that would be out of the way. “I built the cistern in a wooded area to the rear of the property that isn’t visible from the street,” they said. “When I am just about finished with it, I get a cease and desist letter from the HOA… The letter stated that I needed to submit an application for approval of the cistern before I continued working on it.”
The poster applied but was denied. They tried to appeal, and the management company leaked their private information to the whole neighborhood.
“After that happened, I asked a lawyer to send an email to the management company and the board on my behalf and to attend the hearing as they appeared to be acting in bad faith,” they said. “The association immediately canceled the hearing since their lawyer was not available to attend.”
The HOA strung out the process for months, making several incorrect accusations and being corrected before finally declaring the matter “resolved” without a hearing. However, it had spent what the original poster estimated was “between $5,000 and $9,000” on legal fees — and decided to pass that on to the residents by raising dues.
Commenters were outraged. “I’m no park ranger, but this s*** ain’t legal,” said one user.
“I am confident that several laws were broken by the association and the management company they contract with,” said the original poster. “The problem is that there is basically no recourse unless I try to take them to court.”
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