Suburban America is sinking into the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) Hole. About 24% of the nation’s population (aPropertyManagement.com, there are:now live under the rigid strictures of HOAs. According to some fairly recent statistics from
- 40 Million households living in HOAs
- 351,000+ HOAs in the United States
- 8,000 new HOAs formed every year in the U.S.
- 24%+ of U.S. population is living in HOAs
HOAs usually have lengthy sets of rules and bylaws that are subject to the interpretation of either elected or un-elected HOA boards. These rules are generally called Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs).
Some people tout HOAs as “necessary to preserve the resale value of a house investment.” But I would argue that a HOA is the worst form of tyranny, because:
1.) It is almost always self-imposed. If you buy a piece of property inside of a HOA, you know it before you buy, and you become a party to that underlying contract.
2.) There is essentially no legal recourse for extracting yourself from the chains of a HOA, other than A.) Getting a majority of your fellow land owners to vote to abolish the HOA (very unlikely) or B.) You sell and your property, and move out.
3.) Inflation of HOA annual fees is often unlimited, and in many instances they have been increasing at greater than the rate of currency inflation.
4.) They represent another layer of “government” that is largely run by unaccountable private citizen busybodies with a general attitude and outlook on life that ranges between Nazi and Soviet.
5.) You often forfeit some of your due process rights.
6.) Failure to perfectly abide by the HOA CC&Rs (which often can change) leave you open to legal attachment.
7.) A HOA’s set of rules is essentially “a moving target”. In many states, and HOA can change its rules post facto, however they please, as long as any rules do not contradict extant city, state, or federal law.
8.) If you sue your HOA, then you will indirectly pay for their legal costs, and your HOA fees will then rise, in subsequent years.
HOAs are Incompatible with Preparedness
My biggest objection to HOAs is that HOA restrictions are incompatible with family preparedness. More often than not, you will find that HOA rules will not allow you to:
- Own more than a token number of livestock.
- Keep pets of certain types or breeds, or beyond a certain number.
- Erect a ham radio antenna tower.
- Do large scale gardening.
- Operate a home-based business.
- Keep bee hives.
- Keep older, easy-to-maintain vehicles.
- Smoke or grow tobacco on your own property.
- Have guests park their cars on the street.
- Have any guests who travel in RVs.
- Limit additions to houses or the construction of second residences. Thus HOAs are incompatible with large families or families that choose to care for their elderly parents.
- Have tractors, RVs, and utility vehicles visible from the street.
- Build fences tall enough to protect your garden from deer.
- Store large quantities of firewood and other supplies because they restrict the number, size, and type of outbuildings. In some instances, firewood must be kept in a way that it is not “visible from the street”. (The horror!)
- Construct a flag pole, or make your choice of flags to fly.
- Post political campaign signs — often beyond a certain size, number, or date.
- Have more than a set number or people attend a home Bible study or home church.
Even in HOA subdivisions with 10+ acre “ranchette” parcels, shooting guns and even practicing archery can be banned. So HOAs are also usually incompatible with the 2nd Amendment.
In 2016, The Miami Herald published a fairly comprehensive article titled HOAs from hell: Homes associations that once protected residents now torment them. Here is a quote from that recommended article:
“In northern California, one couple learned the hard way how far homes associations can go to collect late dues. The couple failed to pay the $120 they owed but said they had been sick and distracted and never knew about the problem until the association foreclosed on their $300,000 home and they received a notice saying they had three days to move out. The HOA had sold the home at an auction for just $70,000.
In Closing, My Advice
My advice is to avoid buying property that is inside of city limits, and/or inside of a HOA. Don’t fall into the HOA hole. Why bind yourself with CC&Rs when you don’t have to? Staying out of HOAs could prove to be crucial to your family’s autonomy and self-sufficiency. As I mentioned before, HOAs are the worst form of tyranny, because you voluntarily make yourself a subject to their rules. So avoid them entirely! – JWR