The HOA “Mafia”
For anyone who lives in a subdivision run and ruled by an HOA I am sure this post will touch a nerve.
When we bought our house 7 years ago we were required to read and sign a contract with the HOA for our subdivision. That contract clearly outlined what the HOA’s responsibilities were as well as what ours as homeowners were. The clear intent was to protect the neighborhood and to protect the property values of the homes. We took the time to read the massive manual and then in complete agreement we signed on the dotted line, believing that our HOA would in fact protect the value of our home. WRONG!!! We found ourselves on the ‘hit list” for our HOA “Mafia” and the saga began.
For the first 5 years in our house we played by all the rules. There were simple infractions like a car parked in the yard for a short time while we jocked the many vehicles around so everyone could get out, the wayward trash can that got forgotten over night and was left at the curb, the overgrown bush that had been missed in the yard work, or the occasional paper flyer found days later when it blew out of hiding and landed on the driveway, but for the most part we did what we were responsible for and without complaint. We also paid our annual dues on time and believed that the money was going for the betterment of us all. WRONG!! We found out that we were in the minority of homes that followed the rules and that the bulk of the funds were not for the betterment of the neighborhood but to pay the over priced management company that was responsible for making sure people followed the rules. Problem was they weren’t doing their job just collecting a hefty paycheck!
We would attend the HOA meeting and raise our complaints about the management company and question as to why they were not following the rules we all had to sign and we were told that it would be looked into with no results ever to follow so by year 6 we were done. No more payments were made and that’s when the HOA “Mafia” showed up.
It was a quiet day in the hood. People were coming and going as usual. There were a few out fighting the war in the yard or just taking a walk. Nothing out of the ordinary would suggest that the “Mafia” was lurking but apparently they were and they had camera’s in hand this time. We have a situation where we have an ongoing battle with our lawn. Living in the Florida heat and having a yard planted with ‘crab-grass’ is never a good combination. In most places people work like crazy to kill the crab-grass, here they plant the damn stuff and call it a yard. What doesn’t just up and die in the summer heat turns brown and crunchy. It in turn allows the “natural vegetation” that grew in this orange grove before the homes were built to sprout and thrive since the builder did nothing to inhibit that growth. Add to this the fact that the base soil of the yard is SAND and the home to Fire Ants and Gophers and I am sure you can clearly see the disaster.
Now one can kind of combat this problem if you are willing to run your sprinklers for several hours every day but then you best be ready to pay a $600.00 water bill each month and possibly pay a fine for using the water (we have water restrictions) if your caught. You also have the option to buy a new yard once a year but that too is rather pricey an option and useless for the most part.
The first couple of years we watered our lawn faithfully only to find that while it was green it did nothing to stop the “natural vegetation” from sprouting with a vengeance as well. Thousands of dollars in weed killers, fertilizers, bug killers, fire ant killers and gophers vibrators and we still had crunchy crab grass. I even sought help from the Agricultural Dept. and was told that it really was a loosing battle….so…we gave up and went GREEN.
I stopped stressing over that magazine yard and let Mother Nature design my lawn. The way I looked at it she was here long before any of the houses were so I let her do her thing. It started out kind of rough-looking but soon she was pushing up pretty little flowers of all colors, wild strawberries for the birds, and sweet-smelling plants that filled the yard. Yes there were patches of bare sand but we found that the fire ants migrated to those areas and were much easier to control than when they were hidden among the crab grass. We also discovered we now had far less spiders and snakes to deal with. I grew to like the new look of our yard and had not heard any complaints from either neighbor about it. It wasn’t long until their yards started taking on this new look as well. The money that I would have spent on all that wasted water could now be used to buy things for the garden, like lights and a mirror ball etc.
So imagine my surprise when I opened the mail one afternoon to find a picture of my yard and a demand from the “Mafia” to either replant my yard with new sod or else. Honestly I laughed out loud. The cul-d-sac in front of my house looks the same as my yard and the HOA isn’t planting sod there so why should I have to? They clearly like the “natural” look as much as I do. So I sat myself down and wrote them a letter explaining that I would not be buying a new lawn again this year. I explained that I was living “green” and that I liked the “naturally growing indigenous plants” in my yard. I told them that if they were offended that they were invited to buy a new lawn, pay the water bill to keep it green and mow it as often as they felt necessary but that I was no longer willing to “play the game” they wanted me to play, but thank you for inviting me.
I have not heard back from them as of yet. When they do show up again (and I am sure they will) I will be ready for them. I too have a camera and I have taken many pictures of the yards, trash cans, open garages, trash, wood piles, toys, busted cars, unmowed common areas and such to share with them as well as 7 years of accounts so they can explain why the thousands of dollars they have collected from the homeowners has not yet put an entrance into the subdivision? Yes, we are still coming and going on a dirt road, imagine that!
I am ready for the Mafia, I don’t care what they say anymore and if they think my “green” yard is a problem, wait till I paint the house black and white stripes! Heck they should feel right at home with a prison theme, don’t ya think?