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HOA horror stories that can ruin your condo dream

Posted July 10, 2019 9:29 a.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2019 10:00 a.m. EDT

Many people these days are moving to condo complexes or housing communities where everything is taken care of for you.

It makes life so much easier -- but make sure you know the pros and cons of that little thing called a homeowners association.

Nordelle Wainz is among the thousands of condo owners who have run into a brick wall with their HOA.

In her case, it was after the association refused to help her fix her collapsing deck.

"I was told if I didn't like it here that I should sell my condo," she said.

A report in Cheapism.com calls HOAs "paradise at a price."

It found hundreds of reports of homeowners being fined or sued for having:

  • A pink playhouse for a little girl
  • A kids' lemonade stand
  • Sidewalk chalking
  • Pickup trucks on driveways, even when they are too big for the garage
  • Eco-friendly clothesline
  • And even support our troops signs

And from the doesn't that stink file -- when an HOA gets so restrictive, its rules spark national outrage.

A couple of years ago, a northern Ohio Vietnam veteran put up an American flag on a 15-foot flagpole. But the HOA said “take it down" and threatened a lawsuit. Doesn't that stink?

Before he put his condo up for sale, veterans across the country made a stink, the HOA dropped its challenge and the flag and the veteran stayed.

There is nothing wrong with most HOAs -- they can keep your neighbor from parking a junk-hauling dump truck outside your front door.

But know the downsides so you don’t waste your money.


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John Matarese started Don’t Waste Your Money in 1999 to give consumers the facts and information needed to make the best buying decisions for their families. Over the past 20 years, Don't Waste Your Money has helped millions of consumers by providing in depth research and product information.