I recently read a very well-written article in the Houston Press, The author Dianna Wray writes about homeowner associations (HOA's) in Texas and how they enforce the neighborhood HOA rules, many times through filing lawsuits.
Ms. Wray tells the story of a local mother trying to keep up with her bills, who was sued by a local HOA collection attorney Lewis "Chip" Smith IV on behalf of Huntington Village Community Association.
Some of my clients have not had experience with homeowner's associations before; this may be their first house, or maybe they moved from out of state. But in case you don't know, you want to pay your HOA dues before the HOA hires a lawyer. Once it "goes legal" you may find yourself paying thousands of dollars for legal fee, being served with a court lawsuit for collection, and you could even lose your home to foreclosure!
When you purchase a home, one of the many papers that you sign is a disclosure that you are buying in a neighborhood that is subject to HOA rules. The subdivision developer records "Declarations" in the county records, so all homes built in that neighborhood are subject to the HOA rules and liable for HOA fees. And HOAs perform an important function; they keep people from parking junk cars in their front lawns, pay for neighborhood improvements, and do important things to maintain the value of a neighborhood.
But if you have a financial "rough patch" and you are unable to pay your HOA dues, and your account is turned over to the collection lawyers, try to get it straightened out and get "off the lawyer's clock" as soon as you can.
Make a payment plan. If it's too late for that, or you cannot afford what they are demanding, your home is posted for foreclosure, and you otherwise qualify, you may want to consider filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
By filing a chapter 13 case, the foreclosure is immediately stopped. We can then propose a 36-60 month repayment plan, to pay the HOA their fees over an extended period of time, at a level that you can afford. We can also include your other debts, and in many cases stop interest, reduce what you have to pay back, and make your financial life much more affordable for you.
Sound complicated? It's really not, and we can explain it to you in person at your first free consultation, that takes about an hour. Call our office at 713-772-8037 anytime to set up your first free visit. If you are not ready for that yet, request some of our free publications on this website, or download them instantly. Just don't wait too long to come in, you don't want to risk losing your home!
Do you think it is right, that HOAs can foreclose on homes for delinquent HOA dues? Why or why not?