Retirement is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your long years of labor. Well, for Klaas and Dorothy Tadema, an elderly couple from Texas, retirement meant being sued by their homeowner’s association (HOA) for a whopping $100,000. To say they were stunned would be an understatement, and that’s because they were sued for something completely harmless and totally unexpected. Their story ended up making national news, as people were dumbfounded by the circumstances.
Klaas And Dorothy Tadema Moved After Losing Their Home To Hurricane Harvey
Klaas and Dorothy Tadema are an elderly Texas couple who were doing nothing more than enjoying retirement together. After long years of being in the workforce, they deserved a bit of peace and quiet. They had also just lost their previous Texas home in a hurricane.
Starting over in a new town, imagine this couple’s surprise when, one afternoon, they got a knock on the door. And it wasn’t a knock from a friendly visitor. Nope, it was the HOA, there to slap them with a hefty fine for a very harmless act.
53% Of Homeowning Americans Have An HOA
According to a study by iProperty Management, 53% of homeowning Americans live under an HOA. And it’s a big business– according to the same research study, HOA companies bring in an estimated $95.6 billion in revenue each year in the US.
While these associations provide landscaping, security, and other services, they also come with a lot of regulations for their residents. Many of the rules are reasonable, but even if they aren’t, residents must abide by them.
Don’t Want To Follow The Rules? Here’s A Fine
Unfortunately, for those residents, following rules means following them to a T. And if they decide to go outside of the guidelines, so help them, but they’re in for a world of financial hurt.
The HOA has a pesky tendency to slap people with fines if they don’t follow each of their carefully drawn out and bullet-pointed regulations. And, as it so happened, that’s exactly what happened to an elderly Texas couple who were doing nothing more than enjoying retirement.
They Moved From Dickenson To Lago Mar After A Hurricane
After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, 350,000 homes were damaged and Klaas and Dorothy were among the people who lost their house. So, they decided it was time for a change. Packing up the belongs they still had, Klaas and his wife moved from Dickenson, Texas, to Lago Mar, Texas.
It was an exciting time for the couple, as they were about to embark on a new chapter of their lives in a new town.
It All Started In 2018
After getting settled in their new home in Lago Mar, Texas, Klaas and Dorothy decided it was time to do a bit of landscaping. But they didn’t just want to mow the lawn and rack up leaves. This couple wanted to make their yard a mini oasis.
So, they installed a beautifully innocent flowerbed on their property. For a lot of people, the Tademas included, bringing plants and flowers into the equation makes a house a home.
The Flower Bed Didn’t Meet The HOA’s Guidelines
Unfortunately for Klaas and Dorothy Tadema, their new flowerbed wasn’t exactly in line with their HOA’s guidelines of “maintaining a clean and cohesive atmosphere in the neighborhood.” Pretty much, their new flowerbed didn’t mean the association’s guidelines.
“I like pretty flowers. I like my yard pretty. It’s a shame that you have to remove something that I would think would enhance the neighborhood,” Dorothy stated during an interview with the news station KHOU 11.
They Filled Out An Application For Approval
The couple really liked their new flowerbed and didn’t want to remove it just because of some silly guideline laid out by the HOA. So, they went ahead and filled out an application for approval, following the process, to get the association to allow their garden.
Even though the application came with a fee of $25, the Tademas thought it best to nip the issue in the bud before it went any further.
After filling out the application for approval, Klaas and his wife thought the issue was over and dealt with. They weren’t going to hear anything more about their yard’s flowerbed. Well, they were wrong.
A year later, in September of 2020, the Tademas learned that their application had been rejected. And what’s worse, they were being sued by a law firm on behalf of the homeowner’s association. All over a silly flowerbed!
The HOA Wanted Hefty Compensation
According to the HOA’s lawsuit against the Tadema’s, the HOA communicated with the couple multiple times regarding the removal of their flowerbed. The thing was, they weren’t fining the couple a small amount for not following their instructions and removing the flowers.
Nope. They were asking for a whopping $100,000 for their “violation”. Living on a fixed income, Klaas and Dorothy were shocked at the incredible sum. It was just a measly little flowerbed, after all!
Oh, And There Are Addition Fees, Too
According to KHOU 11, the HOA was seeking $3,000 in damages, a sum that “represents damages for only fifteen days, despite the fact the Defendants’ violations have been or were ongoing for a period of more than fifteen days.”
On top of the three grand, the HOA wanted an additional fine of $200 per day that the flowerbed was still in the couple’s yard. And that’s not even all of the fees!
They Were To Pay For The Attorneys, Too
And if the $200 per day of violation fine and the $3,000 in damages weren’t enough, the HOA was also seeking additional payment. Payment for what, you might ask? They were asking for additional money to pay the attorneys they hired to sue the couple!
Talk about a power move on the HOA’s part, especially considering one part of the suit outwardly stated that the Tadema’s were to pay “$100,000 or less” and non-monetary relief.
“We Have No Freedom Here”
Obviously, the retired Tadema’s weren’t too please with being sued by the HOA over a flowerbed, let alone the fines that were coming in by the hundreds of thousands. It was only a flowerbed!
During an interview with the local news station KHOU 11, Dorothy said, “I feel like we have no freedom here. We have to do what they want or else.” Well, that “or else” comes in the form of $100k, evidently.
“It Makes Me Crazy”
Speaking with a news channel, Dorothy explained what the HOA had a problem with. In the interview, Mrs. Tadema said, “They’re real strict… they don’t like those flowers over there, and they don’t like the ones on the side,” gesturing to the pink flowers in their yard.
“They don’t like anything between the sidewalk and the street…they even fussed about some of my plants, saying they’re covering the foundation. It’s crazy. It makes me absolutely crazy.”
Klaas Made Quite An Understatement About The Situation
And Dorothy wasn’t the only one who spoke their mind on the subject. During an interview with KHOU 11, Klaas had something very important to say. He said, “We’re being dealt with, let us say, unjustly, if you would let me make an understatement there.”
His wife agreed, adding that “It’s a shame that you have to remove something that I would think enhances the neighborhood.” Dorothy might be on to something with that statement.
Klaas Thought Their Flowers Would Be Praised
Even though they’re being sued for $100,000, Klaas still managed to joke with KHOU 11. During the interview with the news station, Mr. Tadema spoke about the flowers, joking that he thought the HOA would give the couple a “yard of the month” sign or something.
Unfortunately, no such luck came to the couple. Instead of getting praised, they were hit very hard with a pricey lawsuit. It was the last thing they were expecting.
Welcome To The Neighborhood?
Nothing quite says “welcome to the neighborhood” quite like a fine. And this huge fine was all because the HOA thought the elderly couple was deliberately disregarding their rules and regulations on how the yards in the neighborhood should look.
During an interview with KHOU, Dorothy expressed her dislike of the HOA, stating that “this isn’t the way I want to spend my retirement.” Honestly, who can blame her? No one should have to pay $100k for flowers.
The HOA Technically Wasn’t In The Wrong
While this all sounds utterly absurd since all the Tadema’s did was plant some flowers in their yard, the HOA isn’t necessarily in the wrong. According to Texas law, the homeowner’s association is allowed to bring residents before a court of law if they believe a rule is being broken.
In this case, the HOA wanted to enforce their rule of homeowners not being allowed to plant flowerbeds. And although they could have provided warnings, they decided to drop a huge bill on the couple instead.
Social Media Wasn’t Happy
Not surprisingly, Klaas and Dorothy’s story has made quite a stir in the social media community, with many people backing the elderly couple. Seriously, who is going to back an association that sues an elderly couple for $100 grand just because they planted some flowers? Answer: not a lot of people.
Some people have even been commenting underneath KHOU’s Youtube clip of the story. And it’s safe to say they have more than a few things to say to the HOA.
A Youtube Commenter Called It “Totally Unjustified”
There are some things the internet doesn’t like. Two of which are when there is a lack of funny cat videos readily available and when people unjustly mess with the elderly. In this specific case, it’s the latter that got the internet world in an uproar.
One commenter on KHOU 11’s Youtube video, Jennifer Warren, said it best. In her comment, she said, “Totally unjustified. HOA’s are ridiculous, unchecked abuses of power over homeowners…Sad to see any family have to deal with this nonsense – especially elderly/retired people.”
Suing Over Flowers Is A Mean Power Play
And Jennifer Warren wasn’t the only one sticking up for the wrongdoing happening to the elderly couple. Another commenter, Thornbird 67, said, “Retired people enjoy their gardens! What is so wrong here? Leave them alone; this is just mean.”
Unfortunately, Mariah Boatner, a representative of Principle Management Group, an organization that manages the HOA, refused to comment on the situation as “the company does not comment on pending litigation.” Here’s to hoping Klaas and Dorothy get back to their relaxing retirement sooner rather than later.
A Once-Peaceful Neighborhood
When one man moved onto a plot of land in Osceola, Florida, the neighborhood didn’t think anything of it. However, it didn’t take long for his actions to seriously affect the life of an elderly man named Oliver Lynch.
Lynch, along with fellow neighbors and community members were shocked by what he had done to his property. So, one neighbor decided to take matters into his own hands in order to protect himself and his property.
He Wouldn’t Be Pushed Around
Oliver Lynch is a 79-year-old man and is a resident of Osceola, Florida. He had been living in the same neighborhood for around 25 years and was more than comfortable with his living situation.
Although he was a reasonable man with good morals, he wasn’t the kind of person who was going to let anyone push him around for no reason. After all, everyone has a limit. And what was going to happen to him next would prove that he wasn’t just any meek old man.
He Stands Up For Himself
Being a local resident and an elderly man, Lynch knew that he had to fight if he ever wanted things to go his way. He recognized that not everybody cares about the plight of an older man, so he has to make himself known in order for people to give him the respect that he deserves.
In an interview, he made his point clear when he stated that “I just hate being bullied.” Not only does he hate it, but he’ll also do something about it.
A New Neighbor
In the same interview, he proclaimed that “I have a little fight left in me, and I hate to see somebody bulldoze over me.” These are respectable words from a man of the same age group of others who may go out of their way to avoid confrontation and try to keep the peace.
One day, Lynch discovered that a new neighbor was using an empty plot of land to build a new home.
The Day When Everything Changed
While everything seemed fine at first, Lynch began to sense trouble when he came home one day. On this day, Lynch discovered that there was a long row of cinder blocks lined up in the middle of his driveway.
While Lynch wasn’t overly concerned at first, things changed when his new neighbor claimed that Lynch’s driveway was a piece of land that he now owned. As far as Lynch was concerned, that was his driveway, and he wanted it back.
It Got Even Worse
Unfortunately, the situation was even worse than Lynch originally thought. His new neighbor had gone so far as to actually cement the cinder blocks onto the driveway so that Lynch couldn’t move them even if he wanted to.
This would also cause damage to Lynch’s driveway if he tried to forcefully remove them. With no way to move the cinder blocks himself, Lynch knew that he would have to take more drastic measures in order to solve the problem in front of him.
He Was Wondering What Was Going On
Lynch had seen a lot in his time, but he was completely baffled by the entire situation that he was now involved in. It just seemed so strange that this was happening in his neighborhood, especially to him.
Not only was he surprised, but now he was also starting to get angry by his neighbor’s passive-aggressiveness. “What’s he going to do with these extra few yards of concrete?” Oliver recalled asking himself in disbelief.
Trying To Find Proof
With the cinder blocks cemented onto his driveway, it was clear that there was no immediate way for Lynch to resolve the situation that he was in.
In order to regain his land, Lynch had to find proof that the land his neighbor was trying to take was rightfully his. Finally, he found records that showed that he was entitled to two 12-foot driveways.
Questioning His Character
On top of all of that, Lynch also believed that his neighbor was acting increasingly hypocritically. He claimed that “he was a minister or something like that, [A] God-fearing man. But I don’t think that’s very Christian-like.”
He couldn’t believe that someone who works for the church would be so unchristianlike, especially to their very own neighbor. Lynch thought that somebody that somebody that considered themselves to be a man of God would be a little more reasonable than they turned out to be.
Running Out Of Options
With the situation getting worse, Lynch felt that he was running out of options with what to do about his neighbor. So, Lynch approached the county once again in hopes that an official would give him the help that he needed.
However, deep down, he knew that whatever was going to happen, it wasn’t going to be easy to approach his neighbor about the bricks on his driveway.
Calling The Media
Now completely desperate, Lynch even went so far as to get in touch with the local media. Luckily, for Lynch, the media decided that they would do a story on the ongoing fight between Lynch and his neighbor.
In order to help Lynch, they even tried to get in touch with the neighbor. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any success, as the neighbor wasn’t responding to any of their calls or messages.
Breaking The Story
As you can imagine, when the story broke, Lynch’s neighbor came out looking like a pretty bad person after his actions against Lynch were revealed to the public. Most of the public felt bad for Lynch and spoke out against the neighbor for being unjust.
Much like Lynch, the public was also confused by the neighbor’s schemes when he was supposedly a religious person. This must have all been very embarrassing for the neighbor.
Being A Terrible Neighbor
While everyone was in agreement that what the neighbor was doing was unfair and rude, others were concerned about the impression the neighbor was making on the entire neighborhood.
They couldn’t understand why somebody would want to do such a terrible thing when most people would want to integrate into the neighborhood and become friendly with the people around them. And still, nobody could answer why the neighbor would do something like this in the first place.
Calling The Media… Again
Even though Lynch had the majority of the public on his side for obvious reasons, the neighbor wouldn’t budge. They were being increasingly stubborn about their property and wouldn’t listen to the complaints of the elderly man or even the pleading of locals.
Believing that he was running out of options, he decided that he was going to have to call the local WFTV station once again.
It was during this time, however, that Lynch finally began making progress. Although it took what felt like forever for the two neighbors to talk and sort things out, eventually, Lynch got through to his neighbor.
Now, things were going to get interesting. Not just Lynch, but the whole public had been waiting to hear from the neighbor. Now it was their chance to hear the neighbor’s side of the story.
Things Were Looking Up!
In order to prove his point, Lynch presented the issue to his neighbor, along with the records that proved that the property was indeed his. Believe it or not, his plan worked, and everything was on course to being solved!
After some discussion, the neighbor finally agreed to remove the cinder blocks from Lynch’s driveway. It was a long time coming but it shows that a little bit of persistence goes a long way.
One Big Misunderstanding
After some time, Lynch revealed to the public that the new neighbor eventually admitted that he didn’t intend to create such a scene. He actually felt bad about everything that had happened and knew that his stunt had hurt his status in the community.
Apparently, after all the trouble Lynch had gone through, the whole incident was no more than just one big misunderstanding. We just hope that this neighbor doesn’t have any more misunderstandings with anyone else.
After Lynch made peace with his new neighbor, all of the people who were siding with him were happily relieved when they heard the news. It was nice to hear that this elderly man had won the fight that he had been struggling with.
Even though the neighbor was definitely in the wrong, people could rest easy knowing that the two neighbors might be able to put their animosity aside and maybe even become friends.
A Hopeful Future
While it would have been easier for Lynch to hold a grudge against the neighbor that caused him so much grief, the two becoming friends was much more preferable. It appears that the two will be living next to each other for the foreseeable future, and being friends with your neighbor is a lot better than being enemies.
However, Lynch’s story shows that sometimes a little persistence, communication, and help from the community is all you need to solve a problem.
While today, we may not know the exact relationship between Lynch and his neighbor, there are multiple things that we can learn from the story. One of the main takeaways is the importance of standing up for yourself in a peaceful manner, especially if you’re someone that another person thinks they can walk all over.
Yet, probably the greatest lesson is the concept of forgiveness and how Lynch acted once the problem had been solved. He didn’t appear to be angry or resentful, just happy that everything worked out.