Florida has a new law that allows HOAs to evict a homeowner who’s behind on dues and lease the house to a tenant to make up for the lost money. The Bridgewater Community Association in Wesley Chapel has taken that to extremes.
Joanne McCarn says she missed a $225 dues payment in 2009 when her mother died. She claims she knew nothing about the overdue payment until recently. The HOA began tacking on late fees, attorney’s fees, and collection costs. By the time Joanne found out about her missed payment, the HOA was demanding $2,565, more than ten times the original amount. Joanne and her husband both tried to contact Association officials, who refused to talk to them.
The McCarn family had leased their home to a renter. But the HOA used the new Florida law to kick out the McCarn’s renter and put in a renter of their own. Joanne says it’s completely outrageous because the house hasn’t been foreclosed on.
“I still own this house,” she says. “The HOA changed the locks on the home and they call the sheriff if I come near the property.”
A Homeowners Association lawyer in Florida says the HOA’s actions are illegal. If so, then homeowners in the Bridgewater Association may be hit with a special assessment to cover a hefty lawsuit against the community.
For those of you wanting to make a short sale on your house, you’d better keep an eagle eye on your good old Homeowners Association. They’re starting to get pretty crafty in keeping the neighborhood operating budget full.
For homeowners who are suffering through the housing mess and living with underwater mortgages, working out a short sale might help you save some of your retirement nest egg. The banks take a well-deserved loss, but you’re happy because you’ve found a buyer and you’ve escaped your nightmare of a mortgage.
One puzzle about the HOA movement is, “Why doesn’t the left or right take a stance?” Think about it. Every homeowner signs away his Constitutional rights by agreeing to join an HOA. That abrogation of rights has been upheld in multiple court decisions.
But shouldn’t the left-wing ACLU be furious about the loss of free speech rights by homeowners? Shouldn’t the right-wing Tea Party be furious with the fact that citizens have lost their ability to claim First Amendment, Second Amendment, and Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections just by joining an HOA?
One question each homebuyer should deliberate before buying a property in a homeowners association is, “Am I buying a home in Paradise, or will the HOA make my stay a living hell?”
Homeowners Associations offer promises, of course: security, clean streets, well maintained homes, nice amenities. Some new home buyers find it a positive experience. Others discover they have bought into a nightmare. Still others find their homes foreclosed upon, sometimes for the pettiest of reasons.
Here are some recent homeowner stories collected by Bankrate.com: