Yesterday, I read an online news account of Michael Bauer, a guy who's being sued by his homeowner's association (HOA). Apparently the guy, who lives in a subdivision in Cobb County in Georgia, took it upon himself to paint his house light blue. He did so without asking his HOA for permission, mistakenly believing that he had the right to choose the color he wanted to paint his own home.
Well, one year later, this poor fellow has been slapped with a lawsuit. His HOA is suing him, demanding that he pay $6,800 in penalties, attorney fees, and repaint his house so it's an approved color. Naturally, this turn of events has Bauer upset. He's got physical problems and can't afford to pay off his HOA. What's more, it's his house. He likes the color light blue and, besides, the color he painted his home is not that far off from what some of his neighbors painted their own houses.
Now, I understand why some people like their HOAs. If I lived in a fancy neighborhood and had spent a lot of money on property in a neighborhood, expecting it to look a certain way, I might be upset if one of my neighbors painted their house day glow fuchsia and erected a statue of a penis out on the front lawn. But Bauer has simply painted his house light blue. It's not a tacky or loud shade of blue, it just hasn't been approved by his HOA. The basis of this lawsuit is not that the house is offensive to anyone or lowering property values; it's that he didn't follow the rules to the letter. So now he's getting his hand slapped.
Seems to me, that's not what HOAs are supposed to be about. HOAs are supposed to work for homeowners, not against them. That's why people pay their dues. I understand they don't want to be flexible... give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile and all that. Plus, there's money to be made. But this is still America, isn't it? Why is it that a person can buy a piece of land, pay taxes on it, and still not have the right to do as they please on it within the confines of the law? Is it against the law to paint your house? Not that I'm aware of.
Anyway, I wish Bauer luck. I'm sure he's wishing he could pack up and move now. Or at least that's how I'd be feeling after such a nasty surprise. As it stands now, when it comes time for me to buy a home, I'll be looking for one that is not in a subdivision.