Real Estate

The Ridiculous HOA Rules That Actually Exist

And Why You Should Pay Attention to Them Prior to Buying

I Can’t What???

My husband made one of our dogs a long homemade leash out of rope, electrical tape, and some little metal piece. If you’re ever in our neighborhood, you might catch him riding his bike and walking Jake at the same time. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes right along with you.

On A Short Leash

If we lived in an HOA in California, there’s a possibility that he couldn’t use that leash in our neighborhood. Homeowners’ Associations (and cities) in California are allowed to dictate leash length. Many of them limit the length to six feet. The real purpose of our homemade leash is to let Jake get some extra sniffs in without pulling my arm out of socket. One of us would have to be more assertive if we moved to California.

Up In Arms

Dog in arms

That short leash seems pretty lenient compared to these condos in Long Beach, California and Key West, Florida. A disabled resident was fined multiple times, at $25 a pop, for not carrying her dog through her condo lobby in Long Beach. At Humber Bay Shores in Key West, some residents have been forced to move because of the rule.

For Sale, Maybe?

Selling your house? At one point, the Spence Creek HOA in Lebanon, Tennessee didn’t allow its residents to put For Sale signs in their yards. A resident selling her home was forced to place the sign in the window of her home.

For Sale sign

Not Quite a Black-Tie Affair

Garage sales at our house aren’t fancy affairs. We get dirty and sweaty from the heat and moving junk around. I don’t know where this HOA is located, but they require khakis and polo shirts for the neighborhood’s biannual neighborhood garage sale. Hmmm? Wonder what the fine is for violating that rule?

Open Door Policy

Open garage door

It’s since been rescinded, but an HOA in Auburn, California enacted an 8 am to 4 pm open garage door policy. The homeowners were required to keep their garage doors open during that period or pay a $200 fine! The reason… homeowners were allowing people to live in their garages.


You’ve searched for the perfect playhouse for your kids. You put it in your backyard (where it can’t be seen from the street) and guess what? It’s the WRONG color! An Augusta, Georgia homeowner was sued by her HOA over the color of her daughter’s playhouse. Fortunately, her neighbors stepped in and took up for her and the charges were dropped.

Pink playhouse

Fat Cat

Fat gray cat couch

Got a fat cat? One HOA bans cats over 15 pounds simply because “cats just shouldn’t weigh that much.” Better put that kitty on a diet. Maybe they should put in a community cat park. You know, to let those chunky cats socialize and get some exercise.

I Need a Permit for What?

And finally, I get the necessity of architectural approval and standardized landscaping, but this HOA requires architectural approval for potted plants on your porch! HUH?

Potted plant on porch with red door

But Seriously, Don’t Make This Mistake

These are funny examples until you move into a neighborhood with an HOA and aren’t fully informed. If you’re buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, make sure you check the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions.

In Texas, HOAs with greater than 60 properties are required to file a management certificate with the Homeowners’ Association Management Certificate Database to make their information transparent. A management certificate includes contact information for the HOA, so you can request pertinent information.

I’d love to hear your HOA stories (nightmares?) in the comments.