For the first 19 years of my marriage my family lived in a nice quiet neighborhood consisting of just 27 single family homes. In addition I had the “privilege” of being a member of a homeowners association. Despite the fact that there were a myriad of covenants stating what homeowners could and couldn’t do when it came to painting their house or building a fence etc? it wasn’t all that bad. After all we paid all of $25 a year in dues and as time went along the association rarely met since there was so little to talk about. I didn’t realize how good I had it.
Now fast forward to my current homeowners association. I moved to a new home in 2004 where the association consists of close to 170 homeowners. Just like my former association there are covenants supposedly in place to protect the character of the neighborhood as well as property values. It doesn’t actually sound too bad, but after attending my first meeting the other night I am beginning to wonder what I have gotten myself into. The agenda consisted of beautification of the entrances, reserve funds, mailbox standards and other violations of the covenants.
Yes I said mailbox standards. The covenants state that all mailboxes must be black metal and on a wooden post. This wouldn’t be an issue except that we have a few violators of this covenant who have had the audacity to use metal posts, wooden mailboxes and have also failed to maintain their mailboxes by using bungee cords or just letting them sit on the post without a mail door. This was serious business as the association has sent the violators letters and is now threatening to either fine the homeowners or replace the offending mailboxes and posts and bill the owners. All in the name of property values or so they claim.
Add to that a home in violation of the covenants because there is a vine growing on the side of the house and it make you wonder what a homeowner can do without prior approval from the association.
If I didn’t know better I would have sworn that I was now living under some Orwellian vision of Big Brother where the association is watching every move the homeowner makes and doesn’t hesitate to remind us. While in reality we aren’t living in a totalitarian neighborhood the zeal that the association has in pursuing mailbox violators is a little disturbing to say the least.
If homebuyers would actually read the covenants before considering a purchase it might slow down sales enough that maybe future covenants would be adjusted to inject a does of common sense and not reflect some government bureaucrat’s vision of utopia.