Before I lived in one, I always thought that neighborhoods with Homeowner’s Associations were better than those without. I imagined manicured lawns and pride of ownership and major curb appeal—all great things when it comes to resale value. I’m here to tell you that I was wrong. Now that I own a home and am subject to CC&R’s, I get to see the good, the bad and the oh so very ugly.
My husband and I own a home outside of Tucson’s city limits among the tumbleweeds and cacti of the dusty desert. Our community is gated, but that is about the extent of the amenities our neighborhood affords its residents. There is no community pool. No clubhouse. We don’t even have stinking sidewalks, for Pete’s sake. Still, we pay fees to the HOA monthly. From what I can gather, most of the fees go towards fixing the perpetually-broken gate and paying postage for the nastygrams that the HOA is so fond of mailing out every two weeks or so. My husband and I have been on the receiving end of several nastygrams over the course of our nine years in this neighborhood.
Pull your weeds! Hide your trash cans! Don’t park there!
I often wonder if the senders of these obnoxious little violation letters have, you know, actual jobs to do or whether they indeed collect a salary for noting every single infraction of every single article of every single paragraph in the CC&R’s. I suspect it’s the latter.
Most recently, we received a notice informing us that we were in violation of the rules because the easement (the common space between our property and the street) was showing signs of erosion. We were told that it is against the rules to “obstruct or otherwise alter” the easement. The notice arrived in the height of monsoon season. You know, about the time of year that we can count on heavy rains to fall almost every afternoon. Those rainwaters had washed away some dirt and resulted in a small gulley. It was less a matter of us doing anything to “obstruct or otherwise alter” anything and more a matter of, um, rain? Nevertheless, my husband begrudgingly set about the business of filling in the gulley with dirt from another part of our property. He did so precisely two days before that major storm came in from Phoenix. That storm, as you might imagine, effectively washed away every last piece of gravel that my husband had just placed. I probably needn’t bother telling you how thoroughly excited he is at the prospect of starting over again.
Meanwhile, a neighbor down the street and around the corner has submitted an application to build a massive, free-standing garage. A garage, mind you, that violates several articles in the CC&R’s. I have it on good authority (okay fine, the other neighborhood moms at the bus stop told me) that the application is likely going to be approved. Despite the fact that it violates several articles in the CC&R’s. Makes perfect sense, right? Rules are made to be broken, it would appear.
All of my HOA troubles have taught me a very valuable lesson. That is: Maybe having neighbors with a few stray weeds and lingering garbage receptacles aren’t so bad after all. Considering the alternative.