Homeowners associations (HOA) protect property values by regulating homeowner maintenance or improvements to individual properties that could potentially devalue a neighborhood if left unchecked. For example, homeowners associations require homeowners to obtain permission when making changes to front yards (impacting curb appeal), colors of house paint and making certain homeowners are keeping up with lawn care. The dues paid to homeowners associations cover the overhead for administrative costs, fees and neighborhood improvements such as parks or other recreational areas. If homeowners don’t pay, the HOA becomes cash-strapped and unable to perform its duties. Collecting delinquent HOA dues is a process, but every HOA has rights when it comes to enforcement.
Send the homeowner a letter informing them of the delinquency. The letter needs to include the past due amounts, assessments and late fees added to the total in an itemized format. The letter also needs to inform the homeowner that the HOA intends to file a lien on the property with the county clerk’s office if he fails to pay by a specific date. The timeline for filing the lien on the property is at the discretion of the HOA.
File the property lien. Employ the services of a real estate attorney to complete the lien filing based on unpaid dues.
Follow up with the homeowner if he has not responded within 30 days after filing a property lien. Send another itemized bill, a copy of the lien on the property and inform the homeowner that the intent to collect will now take the form of a foreclosure filing. If the homeowner fails to make payment or payment arrangements (again, at the discretion of the HOA for the timeline), the HOA is within its rights to foreclose on the home, subsequently evicting the homeowner.
Contact a real estate attorney regarding a foreclosure filing. HOA entities should not begin foreclosure proceedings on their own, as there are too many pitfalls they could encounter during the process. The attorney will guide the HOA down the path of foreclosure, from the intent to file through the actual filing process. Normally, intent to file foreclosure is enough to stimulate action from the homeowner, so cases rarely proceed to actual foreclosure.