Originally Posted by Darth333
If the rules don't suit one's tastes, then this person can always buy elsewhere. At least the neighbors know what to expect and that their property won't lose value because a stupid neighbor decided to place cheap reproductions of antique roman statues or a multitude of garden gnomes on his front yard, paint his garage door with the logo of his favorite hockey team, let the grass grow so high you feel like you're in the jungle and, as a normal garbage bin is not enough, has an industrial garbage container in his driveway (my parents are actually stuck with such a neighbor doing the latter two while the city doesn't care and the only way to get rid of that is to go to court, which is very inconvenient, stressful, time consuming and expensive).
When I bought my house, I was actually happy to see such rules into place (fine is 100$/day per default) and an association to take care of the tasteless morons (dealing with the garden gnomes invasion was a breeze). (As for flags, they are prohibited).
I don't dispute their right to exist, just that the rules can be arbitrary and sometimes stupid. However, I also agree that there is a "to each his own/caveat emptor" aspect to HOAs. As both of you point out in your posts, be familiar with the rules of the area you wish to move in and then act accordingly. If you feel an HOA property is too restrictive for your tastes... live elsewhere.
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