A decade ago, Marilyn Davis painted her house in the Glencairn subdivision of Houston in the required colors.
“They wanted my garage door brown, my front door brown, my shutters brown,” she said.
She quickly got tired of brown. So a year later she switched to cordovan, a rich burgundy color, for the trim.
Last year, when it was time to paint again, she decided to stick with the cordovan trim, and her son, Ken, got the homeowners association’s approval.
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But after Ken painted, the HOA said it had only approved that color for the front door and shutters — not the garage door, which needed to be off-white. Since they had last painted, Ken said, the HOA had decided that garage doors were not considered “trim.”
An off-white garage door would look awful, Davis said.
The HOA has sent her multiple violation notices, she said, charging her $15 in fees for each one. The HOA did not return calls seeking comment.
But the 91-year-old great-grandmother doesn’t intend to back down.
“I’ve lived here almost 40 years,” she said. “I should have a little say-so.”
When David Moore moved into his San Antonio home in 1995, he installed a cat door on his garage. Nearly two decades later, he got a certified letter from his HOA saying the cat door had to go.
He ignored it. Then came another, saying the Huntington Place Homeowners Association was filing suit and he owed $6,000 in attorney fees.
The 2012 lawsuit claimed the pet door diminished property values in the community. And the HOA said it was fining Moore $200 for each day the violation occurred.
Moore, a retired police officer and a former president of the HOA board, filed a countersuit. He eventually got so fed up that he posted a large sign in his front yard telling his neighbors their HOA was wasting their money on a lawsuit.
The HOA settled with him in May 2013. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and the HOA’s property management company declined to comment on the case.
“It cost the association over $100,000 in attorney fees and costs,” Moore said, “and it cost me nearly that much in defense of my property.”
It also took a toll on his wife.
“My wife nearly had a breakdown over it,” Moore said.
Racheal Dennis loves everything Disney. So when she landscaped at her home in the Timber Creek subdivision in Yulee, Fla., she naturally put three circular flower gardens in her front yard — in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s face and ears.
The homes association didn’t share her enthusiasm. It cited her for failing to get approval for the garden, which it said was “not consistent with the character of the neighborhood.” The HOA’s property manager said she could not comment on the case.
Dennis was surprised that her flower display would be a problem.
“Who could get mad at Mickey?” she said.
But Dennis said the HOA filed a lien on the house and gave her until June to remove Mickey’s two 10-by-10-foot “ears.”
She moved out of the neighborhood and her ex-husband moved into the house, tearing out the ears within two days.
Dennis said she ended up paying more than $2,000 in fines and attorney fees to the homes association.
“I learned my lesson,” she said. “I will never buy into an HOA — ever again.”