Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re a homeowner’s associations’ worst enemy, according to a Reddit thread that went viral on Monday.
“My parents moved to a retirement neighborhood, so I moved to their neighborhood after my job required me to move to their state,” a woman wrote on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit over the weekend. “We have three dogs; however, two of them almost look the same and we never walk all three at once. It worked for two years.”
“Well, my [nosy] neighbor has been telling everyone we have three dogs and [complaining] about it on Nextdoor,” she added while noting the neighborhood pet limit is two per household. “The HOA asked to investigate.”
The investigation ended on a happy note for the redditor, whose parents had taken one of the dogs to the vet on the day of the house check. However, the nosy neighbor hasn’t given up her campaign on getting the extra dog booted out of the neighborhood. “She went on Nextdoor to complain again, but the whole neighborhood is calling her crazy,” the redditor added. “Am I the asshole?”
— Am I the Asshole? (@AITA_reddit) August 23, 2021
The story, which garnered more than 60,000 retweets and likes, drew additional stories about strict HOA rules regarding seasonal decorations, garage door paint colors, outdoor clotheslines, landscaping and other choices homeowners in non-HOA communities never think twice about making.
“They’re awful,” Twitter user @manicgremlin replied. “We rented in one once and they got mad that we had non-seasonal decorations up outside — we had giant spiders up year-round for two years before someone got mad about it. We complied by dressing the spiders up for each “seasonal” holiday.”
“That’s actually hilarious to pass two dogs off as one and make the neighbor seem insane,” added user @toronodon. “But HOAs really are ludicrous. Imagine owning your own house and not even being able to decide how many pets to own.”
In a poll underneath the tweet, a whopping 88 percent of Twitter users said the HOA had no business limiting the number of pets a homeowner can have. Three-fourths of poll-takers said the nosy neighbor was wrong for making a report to the HOA in a second poll.
Although most Twitter users were on the redditor’s side, a small minority said there’s a simple solution for homeowners who want more freedom. “If you don’t want to follow HOA rules, don’t move into an area that’s ruled by an HOA,” user @pnunez48 wrote. “So while HOAs are generally [asses] to begin with, [you’re the asshole] here because you’re trying to be the exception even though you knew coming in you couldn’t have three.”
The conversation about homeowner’s associations quickly spread beyond the initial thread, with The Wall Street journal tweeting a link to a recent opinion piece about HOA rules. “There is a reason why many people who buy a condo vow never to do it again,” the tweet read. “That reason is the HOA.”
There is a reason why many people who buy a condo vow never to do it again. That reason is the HOA. https://t.co/ZmBZafBh0J
— WSJ Real Estate (@WSJRealEstate) August 24, 2021
The author, Kris Frieswick, shared her own experience with an HOA, which she said has been largely positive but still filled with frustrations over rigmarole. “HOA boards put the devil in the homeownership details,” she said. “If anybody is going to make foolish, expensive, shortsighted, misguided, value-destroying decisions about your home, it should be you.”
UNIT Boston broker-owner Joe Schutt said he understands the widespread dislike of HOAs; however, an experienced agent can help homeowners and their beloved furry friends find the perfect abode — no hiding pets required.
“Before we even go look at a property, we will typically verify if they’re a pet-friendly association,” he said. “If they are pet friendly, one of the conversations I’ll have with my clients is, ‘Okay, you have pets. What kind of pets or what breed of dog [do you have}?'”
“A lot of times [HOA] breed restrictions have to do with insurance,” he added.
Schutt said insurance companies have a list of aggressive breeds and will deny insurance for buildings that house those breeds. “If they’re going to be insuring anything to do with the association, no matter where it is, they want to make sure there’s not going to be an aggressive breed,” he explained.
The most common dog breed to fall victim to insurance requirements is pit bulls, Schutt said, although most of the apprehension is due to stereotyping. However, other breeds with generally good reputations can find themselves under scrutiny.
“I’ve heard some insurance companies say they won’t insure if there is a Yorkshire Terrier, otherwise known as a Yorkie. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,'” he added with a laugh. “But if you think about it, if somebody walks into an association building, and they are afraid of dogs in general, a lot of dogs can sense that fear and they become nervous. Yorkies are known as little ankle-biters.”
Schutt usually guides pet owners to buildings that will accommodate them, but if they really want a certain property with stricter pet rules, there can be room for negotiation.
“I would say a lot of times with the smaller associations, like in Boston, some of our associations are as small as two or three units,” he explained. “You might be able to approach the association and say, ‘Hey, we’d love to make an offer, but we have this kind of dog or this kind of pet. We realize the pet policy is this. Is there any way that the association would be willing to change it?'”
When it comes to larger associations, the sell on updating pet requirements may be harder, he said due to the number of people needed to approve a policy change. Furthermore, with such an intense sellers’ market, there are plenty of buyers without pets, or with approved breeds, in line with an offer.
However, Schutt said not all hope is lost. “Even in a hot market, if somebody overpriced the property, and it’s been sitting there for 30 days and somebody really wants that apartment, or that condo or that unit,” he said, “maybe they can approach and ask if there’s any way that the association is willing to adopt a more open pet policy.”