We are currently living in a great house under the strict rule of the Communist Homeowners Association. When we moved here 4 years ago, we were told about the association, but were so excited about the house, that we did not take their extreme power into much consideration. Over the years, we have learned our lesson and have grown ever more fearful of their omnipotence.
Did you know that most homeowners associations actually own the land your home is on? Neither did we. Last year, we were really annoyed at them, and decided not to pay our fee for 2 months. You see, the association pays to take care of all the front yards, but ours was being neglected. Our neighbors trees and bushes were being trimmed, but ours were left to sprout all over and take over the yard. Well, not paying was a huge mistake. We had been told that they would fine us $5 for not paying, but what actually happened was they put a lien on our home. Yes, you read that right! A LIEN! We were then charged an extra $400 or so to have it removed!
They also can, and will, tell you what sort of "cutsie" things you can display in your front yard. Our neighbors recently put some really nice solar lights amongst their bushes, but because they didn't ask permission before hand, they were forced to remove them. There are at least 10 other houses with the same lights, but they now can't get an OK for theirs. There are also fines for leaving your trashcan by the curb and many other absurdities.
My advice to any of you who are considering moving into a neighborhood with such an organization is this:
Is it really worth not having to mow your front yard to give up all rights to how your house looks? I didn't think so!