A disabled Georgia veteran is in the biggest fight of his life – even more challenging, he says, than his deployments in the Middle East – after his Home Owners Association (HOA) has put liens on his home for thousands of dollars in fines, for not maintaining his yard according to standards. Being disabled, he says, he can’t do the yard work, and the Home Owners Association is just going to have to accept that, WAGA-TV (Atlanta) reports.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Lister served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, while serving in Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) placed by an insurgent, and almost lost his life. For a while, it looked like he wouldn’t leave Afghanistan alive. Fortunately, Army medics were able to save his life.
“I had lost so much blood. I had like 27 blood transfusions before I ever left Afghanistan.”
Seven years and 30 surgeries later, the disabled veteran has had amputations and suffers from PTSD. He admits that he has difficulties adjusting to civilian life, including being a sole parent to his 11- and 12-year-old children (“I was always deployed,” he says). The Purple-Heart winner also suffers from PTSD. But the biggest adjustment he’s had to face in civilian life is being a homeowner.
The disabled veteran lives in the tony suburban Atlanta neighborhood of Chandler Grove. And homeowners in Chandler Grove, like homeowners in neighborhoods all over the country, belong to a Home Owners Association (HOA). HOAs are notorious for being punctilious about their exacting and arcane standards, as well as for aggressively hassling homeowners who don’t meet those standards.
For Dan Lister, the Chandler Grove Home Owners Association has taken exception to how he has kept up his yard and fence, as well as, of all things, where he keeps his trash can. Lister wouldn’t say what problem, specifically, the HOA has with his trash can placement, and the HOA’s 22-page list of rules and regulations doesn’t mention trash cans.
Regardless of where the HOA wanted the trash cans, Lister couldn’t keep them there due to being disabled.
“The trash can stayed where I could use it in my wheelchair.”
And as for the yard work: once again, says Lister, he is disabled and uses a wheelchair and can’t do yard work. And neither can his kids, being preteens.
“I couldn’t do anything. I was in a wheelchair and it was just me at the time… a 12-year-old and an 11-year-old. They can’t do home maintenance.”
Regardless of his limitations, the HOA has cut the disabled veteran exactly zero slack. The covenants state that the HOA can punish violations with fines, a fine Lister they have: he won’t say specifically how much, but he says it’s “thousands of dollars.” And since Lister can’t, or won’t, pay, the HOA has put a lien on his house.
As many a homeowner has found out to their dismay, there is little to nothing you can do when your HOA comes after you. When you purchase a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, you are signing a private contract and are legally bound to its terms. About all you can do is sue and hope you prevail in court, or take your story to the media and hope the publicity publicly shames your HOA into backing off.
The disabled Georgia veteran is hoping that sharing his story with the media will put pressure on his HOA to cut him a break.
[Featured Image by Carlo Villa/Shutterstock]