Homeowner’s associations (HOA) provide a number of benefits. Some come with community pools, tennis courts or golfing privileges, most have rules that help to better ensure neighbors have aesthetically pleasing exteriors and refrain from storing too much stuff in their driveways, but all this comes with a cost. In addition to the HOA dues those who choose to live within one of these neighborhoods are also agreeing to abide by the terms of the HOA.
But what happens if you do not?
In a recent case, an HOA accused a Florida family of failing to pay their dues. As a result, the HOA took the family to court and threatened to foreclose on their home. The family had proof that they paid the dues, but the HOA stated the payment went to the wrong place so the family was still liable. Ultimately, the family pushed back, stating the HOA’s actions were in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act helps protect those who may owe money from a collector using harassing or abusive practices to receive payment. This strategy proved effective, as the HOA chose to settle before going to trial.
Homeowners in similar situations can learn two important lessons from this case. First, document conversations and payments made to the HOA. When payments are made, demand a receipt. Next, if the HOA does fight back, know that you have rights. Use of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to fight back is just one strategy. Other options are available to help better ensure your legal rights are protected when dealing with an aggressive HOA.