Many of us have had terrible encounters with our homeowner's association. Take Debra Blue for instance. She quickly found out how much power her HOA had.
It all started when Debra decided to paint her shutters a different color. Her HOA sent a letter informing her that she did not follow the HOA agreement. She was supposed to get prior approval of her color choice, dark plum, before painting.
"It was a complete shock to me, but I immediately apologized, and they asked me to go through the ARC approval process, and I did that within two days," Debra said.
Understandable. There are these rules for a reason, and Debra didn't follow them. As she was going through the ARC process, the board denied her color and told her to pick a different one.
Debra decided to go around to all of her neighbors asking if they approved or disapproved her color choice. More than a dozen people approved her plum shutters. When she took the signatures to the board, they still denied her color.
If she didn't then she would be fined $25 per day, which is more than $9,000 a year. Debra even received letters threatening a lien on her home and even a threat of foreclosure.
Debra paid nearly $2,000 in fines and took down her plum shutters. But the fight wasn't over.
Once Debra took off her shutters, HOA shot back with another letter. She was now in violation of taking the shutters down, and they were going to start fining her again.
"People are entitled to their opinions, but I haven't seen any facts," Debra said. "They've accused me of devaluing homes, they've accused me of destroying the aesthetic of the neighborhood, and I think one good look at this house would rapidly convince people that that is indeed not the case, it is purely opinion."
Debra went around again to her neighbors asking what their experience had been like with the HOA. She was shocked to hear their response. Several people had been fined and were even threatened with a lawsuit by the HOA.
"I actually had people break into tears and start telling me their stories," Debra said.
Debra and her 14 neighbors decided to work together. One day, they gathered and went over the bylaws. The group did it in "accordance with state law." Which was a very critical step.
The group signed a petition requesting a special meeting, which was in accordance with state law, the HOA attorney threatened the party with a lawsuit if they followed through with the meeting.
"We got a letter from the HOA attorney threatening all 14 of us with a personal lawsuit and restraining order for conducting a completely lawful meeting," Debra said.
But Debra did not back down. They continued on with their meeting and were able to get enough support to make the change. The previous board was removed from office and a new board and management company is taking over. It appears the new team is "keeping the peace."
"Do your homework, get a group of people together because it's going to take a community, a village to do it," Debra said.
What's your experience been like with your HOA? Share with us on our Facebook page! In other news, a disabled Army veteran is taking on a new battle: his HOA. Check out his story here!