In a serene lakeside neighborhood, the Original Poster (OP), a young man who recently inherited a home, becomes embroiled in a heated dispute with his new neighbor, Mariette, over his use of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Mariette, armed with her self-declared HOA rules, challenges OP’s right to warm his home. The story reaches a climax as Mariette involves local authorities, escalating the neighborhood dispute.
Serene Lakeside Abode
OP, a 25-year-old man, receives a property on the lakeside from his parents, becoming a homeowner and neighbor to an interesting mix of individuals. He mostly enjoys the company of his neighbors.
The New Neighbor
A new neighbor named Mariette moved in next door during the early summer, demolishing the old house and constructing her own. A large 4,000 square-foot black and white monstrosity with all sorts of modern upgrades, including smart home technology, reclaimed bamboo floors, and a rooftop solar panel assembly.
As the season transitions to fall, the temperatures start dropping, and OP’s house is warmed by crackling fires. The house lacks any other form of heating, so OP lights up the fireplaces and wood stove daily.
A Historic Home
An old family home from the 1930s, OP’s house was never equipped with modern heating technologies as it was mainly used for weekend trips and left empty in the winter. Now that OP was living in the house full-time, he considered whether to add an electric heat pump system but hadn’t got around to doing it yet.
Winter is Coming
After receiving a shipment of logs for the impending winter, OP has his first unpleasant encounter with Mariette. She visits him, expecting to find his parents, but is surprised to learn that OP is the homeowner. Mariette voices skepticism about OP’s ownership due to his young age and leaves abruptly.
The Doorstep Confrontation
The same day, OP mistakenly greets Mariette, expecting his girlfriend at the door. After a hasty apology, he once again asserts his homeowner status when Mariette asks for his parents. Mariette finally acknowledges him as the homeowner but raises a new issue about the violation of HOA rules.
The HOA Mystery
Mariette accuses OP of violating the HOA policy by using wood-burning fireplaces. OP counters by stating that his house isn’t a member of the HOA, and the town allows the use of fireplaces and burning yard waste. However, Mariette, seemingly dismissive of his explanation, questions the necessity of fireplaces and their environmental impact.
The Stubborn Standoff
Refusing to accept Mariette’s claims, OP insists that his house is an old structure from the 1930s, and wood stoves and fireplaces are its primary sources of heating. Unconvinced by his explanations, Mariette remains adamant and warns OP that she will return with an HOA inspector.
An Unwanted Visit
Mariette stays true to her words and returns the next day with a person claiming to be an HOA inspector. They try to discuss the fireplaces, but OP rebuffs them outright, stating again that he is not a part of the HOA.
The Suspicious Inspector
The inspector persists, insisting that the HOA controls all the properties in the area. Sensing something is off, OP immediately challenges the inspector’s claim, accusing him of either being lazy or misinformed for not knowing the boundaries of the HOA’s jurisdiction.
The Unraveling Lie
The back-and-forth intensifies between OP and the man claiming to be the HOA inspector, escalating into a full-fledged confrontation. Eventually, OP stands his ground, refusing to entertain them any further, and asks them to leave.
An Unsettling Discovery
In the following days, OP investigates the claims of the supposed HOA inspector, only to discover a shocking fact: Mariette is the self-proclaimed head of a non-official HOA she has created to enforce her own rules in the neighborhood.
Rallying the Troops
Determined not to let Mariette dictate the norms in the neighborhood, OP reaches out to his fellow neighbors. As the news about Mariette’s self-styled HOA spreads, the neighbors rally together, rejecting Mariette’s authority and standing by OP’s right to use his fireplaces.
Was The Man’s Behavior Appropriate?
OP posts his story online for feedback. The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:
One reader said, “Inform the HOA that if they continue to harass you, you have no issues looking into legal counsel. Also, let your neighbor know that she is not allowed on your property, and if she comes over, she is trespassing.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote, “Tell them they are not to step foot on your property, or you will involve the police. In my state, I think it is best to send that in writing by certified mail and keep the proof they received it so there isn’t any question when you call the police.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person stated, “A fireplace puts smoke particles into the air, but the wood is usually from dead and fallen trees or trees being cleared for another purpose or sustainably grown wood. It is FAR more environmentally friendly than other ways of heating.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another reader commented, “It’s time for a lawyer to send a cease and desist to the HOA and your neighbor. This isn’t the last you’ll hear from them.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.