HOA Fines Homeowner $5K For Planting Trees That Are Currently Too Small

The thing about trees is, they grow. But not fast enough for one Homeowner’s Association, which has been fining a man $10 a day until the amount reached $5,000 because he planted trees that are too small.

The magnolias are just like all the other ones in the neighborhood except for the glaring height difference — the HOA requires that all trees must be above six feet tall in order to maintain an even, matching appearance in the subdivision, reports WESH.com (link has a video that autoplays).

But the man who dared to dream about his little trees growing up thinks that taller isn’t always better, which is why he went small. Other trees in the area that soar above the streets aren’t so healthy, and he thinks it’s because they were planted too tall.

“I don’t think they’re bringing down property values in the neighborhood,” he says of his wee plants, but the HOA says the man’s just got to stick to the agreement he made with the group by living there. So it’s pay up in 20 days time or take the trees down.

“He wanted to make a tree nursery out of an area controlled by the HOA and we said no,” a group rep said of his efforts.

The man is still stunned by the rule, saying it’s hard to face after serving time in the military and wanting to make a home for himself. He doesn’t have the money to pay the fine so the trees will be coming down.

“It’s funny, I don’t have the right to plant a tree in front of my house,” he says. “There’s something wrong there.”

Man fined $5,000 by HOA for trees that are too short [WESH.com]

Read Comments19

Edit Your Comment

  1. nomdeweb says:

    > “It’s funny, I don’t have the right to plant a tree in front of my house,” he says. “There’s something wrong there.”

    You know, you signed that right away when you bought your house in a HOA right? I understand how people can agree to HOA terms to keep property values up, but they have to take the bad with the good. You can’t just agree to the terms then complain when you don’t like them. HOAs are a horrible, horrible invention that has grown popular in the last 20 years or so. More and more people are realizing how bad it can get and are deciding against them, but the damn developers seem to think HOAs are mandatory and they keep sprouting up all over the damn place.

    An easily bypassed security gate (security theater) and common area landscaping isn’t worth the money and grief that modern HOAs with their power-hungry boards demand. I’d rather live 30 minutes further away from everything than deal with an HOA.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      Actually an HOA will lower property values. No one is going to pay top dollar for a house governed by strangers who have full authority over your house.

    • EducationalGeek says:

      Totally agree which is why I live on unincorporated land away from the HOA infested burbs. I don’t care what line of crap an HOA feeds you……..it’s always a lie.

  2. StevenB says:

    HOAs suck. However, as the other commenter said, the guy signed the agreement. He has to live by it.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      Well the HOA should just change the rule. It is stupid to say you cant plant a tree less than 6 feet tall.
      Not everyone can afford fully grown trees to be transplanted into their yard.
      That rules does not make any sense as the tree will grow.
      Also having short trees does not hurt any land values so again it makes no sense.

  3. TheRealSpottedfeather says:

    This is what happens to people that choose to live in these idiotic HOAs. It’s all his fault and I don’t feel sorry for him.

  4. pguyton2 says:

    I help run my HOA, you have to have rules and be strict about them b/c the homeowners can and will do some really crazy stuff, this seems reasonable and fine but next it’ll be littering the lawn with landmines!

    We will approve any reasonable request of a owner but if you do something that breaks the rules you should expect the specified consequences in the agreement you signed.

    • PhillyDom says:

      And then you have the HOAs that:

      1) repeatedly fined a geriatric women using a cane for not carrying her dog in the lobby, eventually forcing her out;
      2) had a man jailed for failing to resod his lawn;
      3) forced a couple living in a retirement community into foreclosure because they took in their homeless, 6-year-old granddaughter after her mother was ruled unfit;
      4) ordered a 90-year-old World War II vet to remove an unapproved flag pole from his front yard;
      5) ban “For Sale” signs;
      6) ban smoking in one’s own home.
      7) threatened to foreclose on one man who was $168 behind in fees.

      Shall I go on?

      Of course, your HOA is the reasonable one, right?

      • CommonC3nts says:

        How can you ban a for sale sign?? That is insane.

        • PhillyDom says:

          That’s exactly what “The Week” magazine said it was in its 2009 article “Top 7 insane homeowners association rules.” Number 3 was:

          Thou shalt not post a “For Sale” sign
          When Denise Hicks placed a “For Sale” sign in front of her Lebanon, Tennessee, residence, the Spence Creek homeowners association quickly reprimanded her for a breach of contract, citing a rule prohibiting signs, banners or billboards. Ultimately, Hicks was forced to display her realtor’s signs in her home’s windows, hidden from view.

          It gets worse. i did some more Googling just now, and apparently there was no rule against the builder putting up “For Sale” signs, Hicks and her real estate broker said they thought the builder didn’t want any competition from homeowners in the development.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      So HOA guy, why is it OK to stop someone from plant trees because they are shorter than 6 feet tall???
      This type of garbage is what gives HOAs a bad name.

  5. Tightwad says:

    Part of me agrees that he did sign an HOA agreement to purchase the house. However the biggest part of me would take up a new hobby of working on a “classic” car in the driveway. Put ‘er up on blocks while the wheels are being customized right up to the end of the 20 day pay up or get fined time limit.

    Next I’d run for the board of directors of the HOA to attempt to bring some common sense to the rules. I’m certain that others in the association are probably pretty sick and tired of some little retired dictator running around looking for little infractions. For some reason the trailer park manager of the Canadian TV show “Trailer Park Boys” comes to mind.

  6. charmander says:

    What’s wrong is that he bought a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.

    “He wanted to make a tree nursery out of an area controlled by the HOA and we said no,” a group rep said of his efforts.

    Thanks, but no. “Controlled by the HOA” is a phrase that would send me running out of that housing development at a breakneck speed.

  7. CommonC3nts says:

    This is why you dont live in an HOA or you pay pennies on the dollar for a home under an HOA.
    Having bored loser strangers dictate how you use your land or to have the power to steal your house for nonpayment is insane. The house better be dirt cheap to endure an HOA.

  8. CzarChasm says:

    I’m not a fan of the whole HOA Idea, it’s fine in theory, but in practice, I just don’t want anyone telling me what I can and can’t do with my property. Oh and if you think HOA’s are bad, good luck if your house gets designated as a “historic building”, then the town gets to decide what you can and can’t do.

    Also, why don’t people read what they sign? And then expect that it doesn’t apply to them because they didn’t read it?

  9. MarkyMark says:

    Depending on where you live, buying a place that doesn’t have an HOA is hard to find or prohibitively expensive. So finding one without is not a viable option depending on where you live. If you rented an apartment, you would be subject to the rules of the apartment. If you rented a room and signed a rental agreement, you would be held to the details therein. As long as the agreement doesn’t violate the county, city, state, federal law or ordinance then you should be aware and follow the rules. HOAs are no different in that respect.

    Your HOA is only as good as the people who chair it and the unit owners who live in it. I can only speak for my HOA, but we don’t have a written detailed policy on tree height but we do have a general rule that a committee can be formed to make sure the place looks uniform and levy an assessment to conform. This of course becomes an issue because it’s up to the committee to make a subjective judgement on what constitutes a uniform look of neighborhood. The people who run the board are voted in by their unit owners (if any bother to show up) and the quality of the HOA depends on the quality of people up for election. Just like the Government.

  10. drh3 says:

    Sorry. Being former military doesn’t absolve one from apparently not reading the agreements they sign.

    • CzarChasm says:

      Yea, it’s pretty sad that people now throw out the “I’m a veteran” as a trump card in almost any argument. (and I’m a veteran so you should listen to me)