Repercussions of swearing at homeowner's association?
September 22, 2011 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Repercussions of swearing at homeowner's association?

After considering all my options, recently I had to give away one of my dogs (pet limit).

The Homeowner's Association would like a conformation letter. Is there any legal repercussions if I confirm I have given away a dog but add a PS. I hope you go to hell.
posted by telsa to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably not.

But, don't expect them to come running too quickly when you have a problem.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 6:30 PM on September 22, 2011

You can make it cold, but keep it professional.
posted by DisreputableDog at 6:32 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Might this sort of thing (scroll for image) be a bit more discreet yet still satisfying?
Sorry to hear about your pup; that sounds like an awful situation.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:35 PM on September 22, 2011

Link didn't work:
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:35 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Is there any legal repercussions if I confirm I have given away a dog but add a PS. I hope you go to hell.

Think about every nasty, terrible thing that any HOA has ever done and gotten away with. All of those things are potential repercussions. (This is not legal advice.)
posted by The World Famous at 6:41 PM on September 22, 2011 [15 favorites]

I'm not sure what the legal repercussion may be, but I honestly would advise not going down this route until you are ready to sever all ties with the group... i.e after you have moved. Not only could a HOA make your life a legal hell in a million small cuts, but it is generally not good practice to piss people off who have authority over your living arrangements. Even if they are right rat bastards.
posted by edgeways at 6:46 PM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

they ultimately have the ability (in some areas / some HOAs) to legally take your house from you and evict you from it. tread lightly. choose more wisely next time.
posted by radiosilents at 7:26 PM on September 22, 2011

HOA's can be remarkably petty. I can see why you would want to do something like this (I, too have an aversion to authorities), but it would be a very dangerous move, unless you have a backup plan for a new place to live.
posted by Gilbert at 7:33 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adding: a creative busybody might even be able to spin that as a death threat, at which point actual cops get involved.
posted by Gilbert at 7:36 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think direct legal repercussions are what you have to worry about here. You have other dogs, don't give someone a reason to find some rule that one of them gets taken away too. If it's not the dogs there will be something. You probably haven't followed every single last rule to the letter -- and if you have, there will be something else.

It doesn't seem like the HOA has an excess of love for you, unless you want a lot of conflict in your life, skip the postscript.
posted by yohko at 7:37 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

You know you shouldn't write that.
I think you should write two letters: one in whatever you tone of rightful outrage and frothing rhetoric that encapsulates exactly how you're feeling about this egregious action on their part and what sort of tortuous afterlife they deserve. The second will be a straight up, exactly as specified confirmation letter that does only what it needs to.
Send the latter letter.
When you've moved into a new place to live that doesn't have a draconian HA, then you can send the first letter.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:50 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

a creative busybody might even be able to spin that as a death threat, at which point actual cops get involved.

Uh, no. "I hope you go to hell" is not even plausibly a death threat by any interpretation of the English language.

It's kind of sad that people think that telling a group of people to "go to hell," after they made you get rid of a beloved pet, is going to bring down terrible consequences upon you. Are you a human being with feelings, or a cog in a conformist machine? It is the height of middle-class, scared, conservative, go-along-to-get-along conformity to think that you cannot express yourself tartly from time to time in the course of your life. Forget about all this namby-pamby fraidy cat shit. You're a human being with passions and feelings and these people fucked you. Real human beings occasionally lose it. Fuck 'em. Don't cower. Be a proud human being. Some people richly deserve to be told to fuck off, and it's healthy to be the one to tell them.

Do it.
posted by jayder at 7:54 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Real human beings occasionally lose it.

HOA board members are, I'm told, sometimes real human beings. They occasionally lose it, too (if they ever had it to begin with).
posted by The World Famous at 8:02 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would be tempted to write a terse "just the facts" conformation letter, and include with it the cutest picture you can find of the dog ... no other comment would be necessary, I would think, for them to understand how you feel about having to give up a beloved pet.
posted by gudrun at 8:07 PM on September 22, 2011 [31 favorites]

Some people richly deserve to be told to fuck off,


and it's healthy to be the one to tell them

absolutely not
posted by edgeways at 8:09 PM on September 22, 2011 [11 favorites]

Out of curiosity, what is the pet limit?
posted by scose at 8:11 PM on September 22, 2011

My advice would be to never put anything like that in writing. Though you may be able to get away with saying it to someone in private, where there's plausible deniability.
posted by deanc at 8:27 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jayder, as I said, I can certainly understand the sentiment, and I've mouthed off more than a few times myself (usually to my detriment), but here are a few HOA horror stories that I've heard:

Woman who was cited for putting up a flag on flag day. Her husband was currently serving abroad and she wanted to show some support.

Woman who was fined for swapping out her lawn for a native xeriscape garden.

I also personally know of a couple who received a stern letter telling them that it had been noticed that a lot of people were coming and going from their house and warning them that they were being watched. Despite the between-the-lines accusations, they were not drug dealers.

And God forbid if you want a basketball goal, even a portable one.

I know the death threat thing might be a stretch, but it's not one I couldn't see them trying. And since they're the ultimate authority, you're really getting yourself into a situation that you can't win if you face up against these guys.
posted by Gilbert at 9:02 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

My advice would be to relate the facts. If you wish to be petty, add "I hope [pet's name] bears in mind the the weighty and compelling arguments against permitting [her] to stay in a house where [s]he was loved and cared for, and felt safe and content, as [s]he adjusts to the wrenching change to her new environment. I have copied [her] on this correspondence."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:08 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just the facts.

Then walk tall.

Forgive them or suffer. Hating them is like taking poison expecting them to die.

These things are hard to do -- I know. But I think it's what you'd really want to do, I know it's what I'd want you to tell me -- even if I didn't want to hear it at the time, I hope I'd be able to hear it -- had I posed this question to you.

On top of all that, writing what you're thinking of writing totally shows your hand, it's an acknowledgment that they have you by the short hairs. Which they do. But no need to cop to it with impotent rage.

Don't do it.

Should none of the above work for you, and you are determined to strike at these people somehow someway someday, do remember the words put by Mario Puzo into the mouth of his fictional character Don Vito Corleone: Revenge is a dish that tastes best cold.

posted by dancestoblue at 9:35 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

It would really help if you could tell us more about the type of pet, the pet limit, and your family composition. You might be able to get a reasonable accommodation if, say, an elderly person was living with you and the pet was an emotional support animal. When I say "reasonable accommodation" what that means is a legal loophole to pet restrictions or clauses in contracts (as service animals or emotional support animals aren't treated simply as "pets" in the general sense). If this is a child's pet hamster, on the other hand, the answer might be different.

More info means better answers, OP.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:52 PM on September 22, 2011

Dear HOA,

I got rid of the dog.

It's a shame, too: there were plenty of asses around here for him to sniff.


posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:54 PM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

Sorry you're in such a crummy situation, but I agree with those who've advised against putting your frustration in writing. It might feel good for a second, but it won't make them reconsider their actions. Best case scenario, it'll make them giggle and they'll call you a lily-livered putz. Worst case, you've given them fodder for the legal shitstorm they've been thinking of unleashing on you.

Also this might be relevent, in case you hadn't seen it.
posted by balmore at 10:59 PM on September 22, 2011

My real answer is that none of this is worth your time, and it would be better to be cold but professional, get it over with, and internally feel superior. Cursing at them goes nowhere and makes you look like a sore loser. Whatever you do, certainly stay within the actual requirements, and be respectful and pleasant.

But my question is, what is their authority to compel you to write such a letter? Of course, you want to respect the letter of the regulations, which is why you relocated little Pup. For that very same respect for the rules, you may need to respectfully decline to provide the letter requested, as the HOA Regulations provide them with no such authority to require it (if in fact they do not).

If your reading of the rules (be thorough!) turns up no rule allowing them to request documentation, then, well, in my days as a paperwork chaser, I did notice that people who were annoyed were much harder to get documents from. There are many ways to be a pain about giving them this letter, from outright refusal (which is actually relatively kind) to passive-aggressively dragging out the process. I mean -- and again, this is not what I would recommend, but maybe a fantasy that will help you feel better -- imagine doing something like this: Ignore their request for a letter of confirmation. Then when they contact you, state that you forgot, you're sorry, you'll get it to them. Ignore the request until they contact you again, then let them know how very busy you have been but could you get it to them in two or three weeks? Forget again. Not long before the deadline they finally give you, contact them stating that you're not exactly sure what it is that they want. Could they send you a template or sample letters, or maybe some written descriptions of exactly what they need? Then contact them midweek stating that you need to discuss questions about this confirmation that they want. Set up a meeting. Cancel it for a good reason. Start trying harder to get them what they wanted, but maybe the logistics are too difficult. Send them back the same template they sent you, still blank. Email them: "In response to your request for my letter of confirmation I believe you can find what you need here?" Forget to attach the attachment, or send them a file that is corrupted (like the AutoRecovery version). Perhaps oversize the paper? Put it in a zip folder. Password protect the file. Deliver it on a floppy disk. Use YouSendIt or send them to an FTP site. Suggest they bring by a letter that you could just sign (though unfortunately, because of your job, it has to be early or late, so would 7 AM or 9 PM work better?). I know I've done many of these things for very legitimate reasons. Maybe you could take a small amount of pleasure by keeping "get confirmation letter re dog" on someone else's "to do" list longer than necessary.

But again, jokey scenarios aside, the best plan would be just to put this whole thing behind you.
posted by salvia at 12:22 AM on September 23, 2011 [14 favorites]

Write a professional letter...on stationery that has a picture of your dog on it.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:48 AM on September 23, 2011

Civil_Disobedient: "When I say "reasonable accommodation" what that means is a legal loophole to pet restrictions or clauses in contracts (as service animals or emotional support animals aren't treated simply as "pets" in the general sense)."
This is a good point -- dependant upon where you live, you might be able to get your animal registered as a service dog. If you can get a physician to write that scrip for you -- and, again, iin some states they'll write for you no questions asked -- if they'll write for you, all the sudden your dog isn't a pet, it's a service animal, you can take it on a plane, to a concert, a bus, anywhere/everywhere, and damn sure in your home. And anyone starts to harass you about that and they'll be in a world of shit. Just a thought.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:28 AM on September 23, 2011

Instead of trying to make them feel angry, try to make them feel bad. You could do this with the facts. Instead, you could try something like:

Dear HOA,

You requested that I eliminate one pet from my household, and I have done so. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone willing to accept a pet that was deemed a problem pet by a HOA, so I was forced to have it actually eliminated (put to sleep). Is there anything else you need me to kill?
posted by BurnChao at 3:31 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

There are a lot of things an HOA would like. But unless you're contractually obligated to provide it, you don't have to just give them things they'd like. If they want to obligate you to provide written confirmation, they can make a motion at the next meeting, have it seconded, and add it to the bylaws. Seriously, I'm on my condo board, and I'd like some flowers, and a thank you card, after each year of service. But just because I'd like it...
posted by juniperesque at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2011

Assuming that you live in America, you absolutely have the right to say "to hell with the consequences", take the Jayder approach and tell them off.

However, the real issue here is that you have no concrete way of knowing exactly what those "consequences" that you are disregarding are. At minimum they could annoy you, at worst they could cost you your home.

My father has a habit of saying "they can't do that legally!" every time he tells someone off and is reminded that there could be serious consequences for his choice to "express himself". Every single time that he has calmed that the law/HOA/etc couldn't do X to him, they have. Even if they don't have the right, they could exact punishment or fines upon you and make you have to fight them in court to have it overturned (which will drain your pocket book like a black hole).

How much is "expressing yourself" worth to you? Are you willing to say "to hell with the consequences" even though you (as well as us mefilters) have no way of knowing exactly what they will be?

Think very hard about this.
posted by Shouraku at 8:24 AM on September 23, 2011

You did what they asked, right? Now they need a favor- they want a letter for their files. Is there a reason you need to do this? Probably there is a rule about the # of dogs, I doubt you are obligated to send them a letter about it.

The above is not legal advice.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 8:49 AM on September 23, 2011

Stay professional. Don't let them see you mad. They do not care and whatever anger you may think you're throwing at them with your PS will go right over their heads. Think about why you would make that PS and then consider the HOA's potential reaction. I guaran-damn-tee that they will not have the reaction you want. They'll be dismissive, mocking, and disinterested if they're even intelligent enough to read that far into your letter.

My story: my HOA rules state that no flag other than the American flag can be flown from any balcony. This is in the SF Bay area, where native-born Americans are pretty close to the minority. I can't wait to move out of HOA hell.
posted by bendy at 10:31 PM on September 23, 2011

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