How much right do your neighbors have over your property? This is not a rhetorical question. I live in a community with a Home Owners Association (HOA) and these people have all sorts of rights concerning my property. We were told the rules and regulations would be redone with our input after the houses were all built and we believed this nonsense. We really should have known better.

We have actually received a nasty-gram because the garbage can was at the curb five hours too early. I had to cry on the men who came to determine if I could put up the wall to make our lanai a three-season room. They didn’t know if it would be nice enough. It is on the back of the house and the only person who can really see it lives in a house where the foundation is cracked and repaired. My very expensive windowed wall is much nicer than the warped wood crap the builder put up, but still they weren’t sure. Then I cried. I got my wall.

We did sign papers saying we would abide by the rules and regulations of the HOA. I mostly do abide by them. It would be nice if everyone was made to follow the rules.

The dumbest thing the neighborhood did was concerning signs in the yards. We cannot put up a “For Sale” sign when selling a house. These signs are an abomination before God and Man and must not be tolerated. Signs lower the property value (but I’m not sure how). Then they had a contest and announced the home with the best yard. We knew who it was because they had a sign in their yard. Irony? Stupidity? Hard to tell.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting on another difference of opinion among neighbors. Neel Reid built houses in the area in the early 1900s. In 1922, he built the old Henry B. Thompson House which is now owned by T. Ruben Jones. The 80-year-old painted the house and upset his neighbors.

The house before it was painted

These old historic homes are a neighborhood unprotected by Historic Standards because the powerful people who live here opted to remain without so much external control. They may be rethinking that decision now.

Jones left the trim of his house an unpainted gray stucco. He painted the façade bright orange saying it is in line with an Italian villa and the color will fade in time. The door is a bright blue. The colors are reminiscent of the Florida Gators, something Jones says is just happenstance, not something planned.

The house with a new paint job

Now his neighbors are concerned. They fear the “garish” paint job will bring down property values. Jones has also redone the entire interior of the house, which had fallen into disrepair. He was the owner of a high-end antique shop and has taken great pains to upgrade his house to something stylish and beautiful.

Some are disgusted with the paint job. Other are grateful someone has spent so much time, effort, and money to refurbish a house that could have been demolished. And quite frankly, paint is not forever, so a different color may find its way onto the walls at a later date. Some more understanding neighbors, including the person who lives directly across the street, have said, “it’s none of anyone’s business.”

So, exactly how much say do we have over our neighbors? What can or can’t a neighbor do and how does it affect our property values? And why would anyone buy a house in a place with a HOA? These people irritate me no end. But, at least there is a golf course nearby.