The bane of my existence…

Posted: June 3, 2012 in homeowner's association, previous occupant, Wanda

So, The Management and I spent some time working on the house today. I painted the trim on the porch and the garage, she planted the rest of her flowers and veg. The place really looks good… the fresh paint makes things look pretty clean, and the new flowers certainly add a nice touch of color. I usually leave the flowers and planting to The Management, as I don’t have much of a green thumb. I have more of a black thumb. Seems like any plant I touch withers and dies. I can kill kudzu.

I have a confession to make, though. I did something that our Homeowner’s Association would not approve of. Please don’t tell, but I painted with a different shade of white than specified by the by-laws. I did this because a real white pops more than the crappy off-white they want me to use. I also realized when replacing the fence two summers ago that the prescribed white didn’t match the approved fence post caps and it looked like crap. So I took matters into my own hands. Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Responsibility for enforcing the bylaws of the association falls to Wanda, the property manager. Near as I can tell, her job involves taking kickbacks from the lawn “service”, hassling people who shouldn’t be hassled, and not hassling those that should. Case in point. If you look to the left of the garage door, you’ll see a dwarf Alberta spruce. That’s a replacement for the shrub that was there when we moved in. See, the shrub was really nasty looking, but over the course of our first year, I spent hours reshaping and trimming the shrub to make it look presentable.

One fine day, after spending about an hour  on the shrub and really being happy with it, I walked up to the mailbox and found a letter from Wanda informing us that said shrub was in violation of the bylaw that requires on-property foliage to be under six feet. Our shrub was around seven feet. As I read this, I could feel pure and simple rage starting to boil in my veins. I looked around to other houses, seeing many with shrubs much taller than I. I lost it. The Management will tell you that she never saw me as angry as I was that day. I immediately went and lopped off around a foot and a half to the shrub, and apparently I was not the only one to receive a similar letter. As you drove up the street, you could see many flat-topped shrubs. I soon grew tired of how bad it looked and went to purchase the little spruce that you see now.

The Management and I cut down the old one (she let me get a reciprocating saw… SCORE!) and replaced it with the new shrub, measuring much shorter. Imagine my surprise when we received ANOTHER letter from Wanda telling us our shrub was exceeding the six foot height limit… showing here.

Taller than six feet? In what measuring system?

Soooo, I promptly fired off a letter to Wanda informing her that while I appreciated her dedication to enforcing the bylaws, perhaps a lesson in reading a tape measure might be in order. As expected, she was less than enthused and fired back with yet another pointless criticism about a crack in the sidewalk. Sigh. This was not the first criticism, nor will it be the last. There was the time when we moved in that we were told we needed to replace all the outdoor light fixtures because they were pitted and the brass finish was corroding. Never mind that the entire unit of townhouses across the street have nasty outside lights, including two that recently changed hands. We were told we needed to replace the deck, which I would’ve done anyway. We opted to replace it with a composite material and when we submitted the proposal to them, cited the other home in our development with a similar coloration and style, we were asked to provide more detail regarding color and style, because I guess looking out the window presented a challenge. When we opted to replaced the dry-rotting French door on the patio with a sliding door, they wanted pictures. The door was being custom-made for us, so I just took a picture of my neighbor’s sliding door and the apparently was enough. So when the time came to replace the screen door, I didn’t even submit plans. Makes me even more of a rebel, I know.

I should add that the previous owner could charitably be described as filthy. I have many other names for him, but he didn’t leave us a lot to work with. I consider it to be a small miracle that we’ve gotten the place in the shape that it is.

So, the point of the story is that when you have an evil, vindictive witch as a property manager, beware because she will become the bane of your existence. My only advice is to avoid all HOAs, if possible, The idea that you don’t have to mow your grass or shovel your snow* is nice, on the surface. When you realize what a piss poor job they do on the mowing (and they will mow your flowerbeds for free!) you start to wonder if it’s worth it. Granted, you still have to pay your association dues whether they cut your grass or not.

I do wonder, though, if Wanda would mind if we replaced the lilac in the front flowerbed with something more festive…


*   They only shovel if it’s more than 3″… otherwise you’re on your own. And God forbid you need to get to work in the morning. You’ll be shoveling yourself out.

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