Our Homeowner’s Association: Serious, or Suburban Formality?

My husband and I come from rural roots and now live in a housing development. Suburban life isn’t so drastically different though, as our home design caters to privacy and we have a decent yard.

Completely new to us, however, is the existence of the Homeowner’s Association for our neighborhood. I admit we were amused by some of the “regulations” when we skimmed read the bylaws the first time. After a few months in our new residence, we are still unclear about how serious they are since (don’t tell) some of our neighbors appear to be rule breakers.

Maybe it’s because I don’t read much legalese to begin with, but my brain hits the snooze button when perusing a document full of words like “hereinafter,” “hereby,” and “hereto.” It’s even better when some combination of those appear in the same sentence. Still, I rubbed the boredom from my eyes and went through the bylaws again to highlight our favorite parts:

No gravel or stone driveways shall be permitted on any lot.”
As I said, we’re country people. I grew up with a long stone driveway that contributed to the frequent application of hydrogen peroxide and Band-Aids to my knees while I learned how to ride a bike. I expect our future children will manage to skin their knees regardless — while it may be less gritty, at least they won’t completely miss out on this childhood rite of passage.

“In addition, no noxious, offensive, or unreasonably disturbing activity shall be carried on upon any part of said subdivision, nor shall anything be done thereon which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance in said subdivision.”
We are totally justified to grow old here and yell at kids to get off our lawn. Ha!

No clotheslines shall be located on any lot.”
So much for the smell of fresh, line-dried linens! What if we promise never to hang out our unmentionables?

No weeds, underbrush, or other unsightly growths or objects of any kind shall be placed, be permitted to grow, or suffered to remain on any part of said premises. All lawn areas shall be maintained in a neat and orderly manner and shall be mowed not less than is needed to maintain the lawn equal to or better in appearance than the surrounding neighborhood in general.”
I thought lawn competitiveness between neighbors was only a stereotype. Better keep tabs on those dandelions, folks!

You didn't see these popping up in our yard...

You didn’t see these popping up in our yard…

Also, does a couch count under “objects of any kind”? There was one that sat across the street for a month or two; I kind of wondered if our neighborhood was going to become known for having the most comfortable bus stop ever.

“No towers of any kind including, but not limited to, radio and/or microwave towers, or dish-type antennas, shall be erected, placed or maintained on any lot in said subdivision.”
Clearly, a satellite dish is not the same as a “dish-type antenna.” My husband likes to point them out when we drive through the neighborhood. (Not because we want to get one, but to justify that it’s OK if we fall behind with pulling weeds or mowing the lawn.)

No animals, livestock or poultry of any kind shall be raised, bred or kept on any lot except that dogs, cats and other household pets may be kept, provided that they are not kept, bred or maintained for any commercial purpose, that they are limited in number so as not to become a nuisance or disturbance to others, and that they are not permitted to run loose.”
I knew we should have bought a farmhouse. Kidding aside, there is a cat (with a collar, not a stray) that likes to visit our garage. Frequently. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t for those paw prints we discovered all over the hood and windshield of my car. We must be missing the exception clause for “not permitted to run loose.”

My husband insists no one takes the rules seriously by the number of “violations” we’ve observed — satellite dishes, wandering pets, those dreaded dandelions… Plus, membership is optional, so he decided that if you’re not a member, then, logically, the rules don’t apply to you.

Consequently, I imagine if we ever get in trouble, we might feel a little like this:

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