My question involves a home located in the State of: Florida.
I'm posting this here because it seems like the only section that involves associations. If it belongs elsewhere, by all means move it or tell me where it needs to be posted.
While we have studiously avoided buying a home of our own in HOA areas, we recently purchased an investment property within such a zone. We have since discovered that the head of the HOA lives in the home directly opposite our property, and is the original dragonlady when it comes to abusing her authority and selectively applying the rules as she sits fit. The area is extremely uneven, and the house we purchased was a disaster that took a great deal of work to fix up. The previous owner had run it into the ground, the gardens were a wasteland, and quite obviously the HOA and the woman in charge had done zip to make the owner fix up the issues that contravened the HOA regulations. The owner's son had at one time taken it upon himself to re-shingle the roof, did so without permitting, and did such an awful job that it caused numerous leaks into the house and looked markedly crooked and erroneously laid to the naked eye. Every neighbor we spoke to, including the husband of the HOA head, stated that they knew it wasn't done with the city's knowledge, yet the HOA did nothing to report the matter. We ended up spending $14,000 to fix the problem up, and our contractor claimed it was the worst job he'd seen in 26 years of business.
Same applied again with soffits that are missing or sagging around the house - the problem arose during the 2004 hurricane season, yet the owner never did anything about it in 8 years, nor did the HOA, even though they were aware of the issue and their own regulations insist that all homes be kept in a proper state of repair.
The front yard was equally as bad, and we have undertaken to fix it. Unfortunately our tenants have been very slack, and at one point allowed the yard to go completely wild, with the result that the HOA head rang us at home one night and went completely off the deep end raging at us, demanding I come round in mid evening to inspect the horror patch and threatening to file a complaint with both the city and the mayor. She also went on a riff demanding that we re-sod the area as well. The fact of the matter is that this woman never gave a toss about the state of the lawn when former friends owned the property, there are at least 12 - 15 homes in the area with lawns of similar quality or worse, and I can guarantee you that none of the owners received the blistering and bullying tones we got over the matter. I countered by stating that we'd file a lawsuit given her extremely selective application of HOA rules that bordered on harassment, and went through the neighborhood taking pictures to prove my point. She has since countered by claiming she will 'water down' her approach to the city by also including other homes in order 'not to appear' to be picking on our property.
Our other point is that this individual has seen fit to approach our tenants, without our prior knowledge or permission, and tried to hatch a plan for them to exchange labor on the gardens in return for reduced rent. She even communicated as much to us via email. We told her she was way out of line and that it wasn't her business to try and make business arrangements involving rent with our tenants.
There are a number of other issues, but clearly, we're getting a front row seat on why HOA's are often considered such a nightmare of petty little martinets chasing positions of authority in order to become neighborhood bullies. At this stage we're trying to consider our options, which is to complain to the city about the double standards and non-compliance, seek legal representation to head this individual off, and write to all the households with the association to notify them of the woman's abuses and the fact they need to find someone else to take on the job and apply it in an even-handed and appropriate manner.
Finally, do we have grounds to report the HOA for its obvious neglect of its own regulations and city ordnance regarding the roofing issue? Doubtless the two HOA representatives who told me conversationally about the roof would deny it now until they're blue in the face, but clearly they had to know, especially as code requires appropriate posting at the front of the property. They also noted how everyone watched the work being done in virtual hysterics because it was so obvious how poor the workmanship was. It's not as if we want to sue for the money, because in all fairness, we got the house at a reduced rate because of the roof issues, so whatever we spent was saved on what we would have doubtless paid for the house if the shingles had been sound. I simply have issues with the fact the HOA had a legal responsibility and took no action because the head was 'friendly' with the home owner, while in other areas we are obviously suffering now via a fractious relationship to a HOA that was actually complicit in the problems we're dealing with now.