HOAs Foreclose On Homes Over $500 In Late Dues Then Flip For Personal Profit

In Texas, Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) are on a foreclosing spree, selling members’ homes on the courthouse steps for just a few thousand dollars simply because they are a few hundred dollars behind on their homeowner’s dues. Sometimes they’re even selling it to HOA board members, who turn around and sell the house for half of what it’s worth, netting a tidy profit.

It’s called nonjudicial foreclosure, and it can happen without a judge or arbitrator of any sort. Basically, they just file the paperwork. In Texas, the process only takes 27 days. The law says that HOAs can foreclose for nonpayment of dues, but thanks to a loophole, HOAs are also foreclosing for unpaid fines. Before the recession, these type of foreclosures were only 1% of all foreclosures, but since the economic downturn, that number has risen to 10%.


Solomons says HOA board members and advocates testify and say, “‘We need the power to access and fine and foreclose, and we need the money. And we look for people in violation of the rules and restrictions that we put in place.'”

“And they drive around in golf carts looking for them,” Solomons says.

The best advice for a homeowner who finds themselves behind the eight-ball like this?

“I suggest you call the association and cry,” a Houston lawyer for homeowners tells NPR.

Not So Neighborly Associations Foreclosing On Homes [NPR] (Thanks to Kai!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. lymer says:

    As someone who isn’t a home owner, how common are HOAs?

    • Megladon says:

      If your buying a home newer then 20 years old they’re very common. Normaly the developer sets up one when they start building houses. In homes build over 30 years ago they’re not as common, but it can still be found.

    • copious28 says:

      In Texas, in major cities, in newer housing editions, they are fairly common. This is a gross abuse of power and it is legalized fraud.

    • nbs2 says:

      It depends on where you are and how much you can afford.

      In the DC area, there are almost everywhere that a first time buyer is going to look. You can find some older communities without them, but homes in those communities that are affordable, in good condition, and for sale are few and far between.

      I was opposed to buying into an HOA , but ended up doing so as that was the only place we could find a home that didn’t need any work (when your wife is pregnant, don’t even think about moving into a place that might need repairing) that was within our price range. Even then, I have a 4 hour rt commute. But, the goal is to find work that is closer to where we are and in two more years sell the place and buy one a little farther out in the country.

      • Tim says:

        Do you live in the exburbs?

        • nbs2 says:

          Sort of.. In the DC area, I think you’d be hard pressed to call anything exurb. There is too much in too many places to call anything an exurb. My town/city is the third largest in the state.

          For DC, I would call us a suburb, but I there there are plenty of people that think of where I am as an exurb. Then again, there are people on my train that go into DC from WV. I’d consider them exurban.

          For good measure, I took a look at wiki, and they called us an outlying community of the DC MSA.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      The street where I live in the Portland suburbs is very desirable because it is the only one in at least a three mile radius that doesn’t fall under a homeowner’s association. (I think when it was first planned it was part of a very small development that eventually folded, and the HOA along with it.) They are the norm here for any area here developed within the past 20 years.

    • Fallom says:

      I guarantee you ALL new homes in urban-suburban areas (including small, 20,000 pop cities) will be under an HOA.

      • ohhhh says:

        and you would be wrong,

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        HOAs are horrible and devalues the neighborhood.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          HOA’s suck, but so does living in a neighborhood with cars on blocks and lawns that are never mowed.

          Really, living in the sticks without neighbors is probably the way to go, but I put up with an HOA.

          Most HOA’s are also starving for involvement, so people that hate them can do something about it.

          • Dre' says:

            I’m glad I live in the sticks then, because I would most likely firebomb a neighbor who pulled this shit on me.

          • AnthonyC says:

            These are not your only options. There are nice communities out there without HOAs, too. I know because I grew up in one.

            Problem is, they tend to be more expensive precisely *because* they are nice and have no HOAs.

    • blag says:

      CC&Rs (covenant, codes and restrictions) seem more common than HOAs. It’s still like having a bunch of nosy busy bodies monitoring what plants you have and what color you paint your house, but you don’t have to pay for it.

      There are two lessons here, I think: 1) don’t move to Texas; 2) pick a nice older neighborhood where people are friendly, if sometimes eccentric, trees are abundant and the houses don’t all have to be soul-draining beige.

    • mac-phisto says:

      it depends on where you live. they seem to be much more common in areas that don’t already have zoning regulations.

      it’s really ashame that some of them have grown out of control – they often serve a legitimate purpose. to give you an example, my parents started a HOA when we lived in a home that shared a private road with 6 other houses. creating the HOA allowed the community to consolidate maintenance costs (plowing, grading, etc.) & also transferred liability from the individual homeowners to a specific insurance policy in case anyone was injured or killed on the road (making individual hazard policies less expensive). before the HOA, each homeowner was responsible for the section of road that passed their house, which was a nightmare when anything had to be done to it.

    • Dave Farquhar says:

      One of the first questions you should ask if you’re looking at a home is whether there’s an HOA.

      Generally speaking, the newer the neighborhood, the more likely there is an HOA. I live in a neighborhood that was built mostly in the 1960s. No HOA.

      My parents built a house in 1988. New subdivision, with a pool and tennis courts and all that stuff. It had an HOA. Besides keeping those facilities running, the HOA would come out and measure your fences to make sure the slats were a certain distance apart. If they were off by 1/8 inch, they’d make you tear it down. There were also limits on what colors you could paint it. And absolutely no satellite dishes. I also think there were regulations on what height you had to mow your grass.

      I have seen areas with no oversight where anything goes, and depending on who lives there, the results aren’t necessarily pretty. But HOAs tend to be run by people with nothing better to do, so they tend to attract very anal retentive people, and end up restricting a lot of things that would be perfectly tasteful. OK, fine, maybe you don’t want chain-link fences in your upscale neighborhood. But why does the distance between the slats in a wooden fence matter? Why does it matter whether the fence is stained or painted white?

      Having had it both ways, basically when you have an HOA, you’re paying them hundreds of dollars a year to nitpick what you do to your house. Not a good deal. Much better to find a nice area with no HOA oversight. They exist. And since there aren’t tons of conformity rules, the areas actually look nicer. A little bit of freedom of expression goes a long way.

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      They’re all over where we live in Rhode Island. The area is clustered with PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) that when we looked at real estate all included HOA fees and dues.

      Glad I don’t live in a Texas HOA. Combine the state’s fondness for HOA foreclosures with the state’s fondness for firearms and things could get nasty.

  2. ChuckECheese says:

    This story absolutely guarantees I will never buy a home with a HOA.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Oh – I forgot. It also guarantees I won’t buy a home in Texas.

      • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

        No no— Texas has THE BEST property laws!! You just have to own your own freakin property — not let the HOA decide.

        I live in the great sate of Texas, in the country, and we have bonfires, nice neighbors (a ways away), cows, and wildlife. It’s Wonderful.

        Also, I can shoot you if you come on my property threatening me. The best law. Ever.

        • NashuaConsumerist says:

          Except not so much for a repo man….

          • Minze says:

            pay yer bills and you won’t have to worry about the repo man comin’ round

            • FredKlein says:

              Pay your bills, and you won’t have to worry about the HOA foreclosing on your house.

              • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

                Yeah, I mean, a greedy group of people in charge of an HOA would never do anything shady. Like fine you for something without notifying you in a timely manner, then file the papers…nope, never ever.

                • AnthonyC says:

                  That’s the problem I see.

                  Consider any community. Which kind of people are the most likely to want to be in control of the HOA? That’s right, the nosy, pushy, power-hungry idiot neighbors you carefully avoid.

        • sleze69 says:

          In Texas, you can also shoot people if they go onto your neighbor’s property as well.

        • newfenoix says:

          Amen to that. We moved from Arlington to Texarkana recently because of city required changes we would have to make to the property.

    • Momma Volcano says:

      That was the EXACT same reaction my husband and I had. Never. Ever.

    • nova3930 says:

      Exactly. If you don’t want to have the possibility of a HOA screwing you over, don’t buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.

    • Beeker26 says:

      +1 mil. I would NEVER NEVER EVER buy a home where I had to deal with an HOA.

    • webweazel says:

      Oh, you would be DUMBFOUNDED by the kinds of crap HOAs pull. They LOVE to fine, because it’s more $$$ in their pockets. Try these on for size: What TYPE and COLOR your window blinds are. “Wrong” ones?-FINED. Are the blinds actually *gasp* OPEN?-FINED. Some have the landscaping already done, and if you feel like putting in some flowerbeds or potted plants out front-FINED. Garden out back?-FINED. Clothesline?-FINED. Want to park in your driveway instead of in the garage tonight?-FINED. Is that a pickup truck you own? Better trade it in for a car or-FINED. Having family stay for a visit, and they can’t ALSO cram their car into your garage?-FINED. Is that an air conditioner hanging out of your window? Sweat like a horse in this heat or-FINED. Measuring your lawn grass. Over 4 inches?-FINED. Using another company for grass cutting than the one they say you can use?-FINED. Hell, some won’t let you have any visitors at all unless they pay a cash “fee” at the guard gate. That INCLUDES repairmen, pizza delivery, Aunt Edna, Cousin Earl, etc.
      You might want to call shenanigans on me, but I can point and direct you to the HOAs that do this kind of shit. And each association invents more dumbo crap at every meeting. You don’t like something they came up with? Too bad. It eventually comes down to the point that you feel like a paranoid trapped rat in your own home. And HOAs are VERY well known as hotbeds of embezzlement. That’s another reason they love to fine everybody, so some of the board members can steal it.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Me too. Ugh. They charge so much and I don’t see how you really benefit. I like a little non-conformity in houses. Those neighborhoods of varying shades of beige and all the same mailboxes are boring to me. As long as the house is maintained, who cares what color it is or what color Christmas lights you use?

  3. danmac says:

    Shouldn’t this be an issue that homeowners should be contacting their state lawmakers about? It sounds like a horrid situation that can only be resolved when changes are made to the law.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I think it’s not a law thing, it’s the agreement you sign thing.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Until you change the law so that it conflicts with the thing you signed. The law supercedes any written contract.

        • AnthonyC says:

          That is not necessarily true. A law made after the contract is signed may not always invalidate the contract.

          See the constitution, article one, section 10: No state shall…pass any…law impairing the obligation of contracts.

          Example: After the American revolution, NH tried to alter the charter Britain had given to Dartmouth College, and the Supreme Court overruled that law, letting the contract stand. So, looks like you’d need a lawyer or a judge to decide whether, in a particular case, the contract would be invalidated by a later law.

      • qwickone says:

        I think the fact that they can foreclose is the problem for lawmakers.

        • bwcbwc says:

          Yeah, they should be able to put a lien on the property and if the debt exceeds a certain % of the market value as determined by the county tax appraiser, then they can go through a normal judicial foreclosure.

          These guys are probably liable for not acting in the interests of the HOA by letting the property be sold for a few thousand when it’s worth hundreds of thousands.

      • Tim says:

        You should learn a thing or two about contract law. Governments can (and have) invalidate certain types of contracts. A state could probably outlaw HOAs altogether if it wanted to.

        For example, it used to be legal to put in the deed to a house a clause that only white people can own the house. Since it was on the deed, everyone who bought the house could only sell it to white people, or be taken to court for breach of contract. Those contract provisions are no longer legal.

      • danmac says:

        The law says that HOAs can foreclose for nonpayment of dues, but thanks to a loophole, HOAs are also foreclosing for unpaid fines.

        From the article. It’s a law that allows them to do this.

      • FatLynn says:

        No, it is both. In some places, you can take possession of the property and rent it out to recover your losses, in some states you can garnish wages, etc. Being able to actually foreclose on it is pretty rare.

    • selianth says:

      The original story/article talks about how the some in Texas legislature are trying to get the laws changed. I particularly liked this tidbit about a state Senator who is against any reform:

      ” Reform legislation has passed the Texas House of Representatives, but no bill has been able to make it through the state Senate.

      “Associations are a collection of neighbors,” says Republican state Sen. John Carona, who represents Dallas. “The goal has to be to work well together — have a harmonious community — and to create a lifestyle that people enjoy and want to be a part of.”

      In addition to representing Dallas, Carona owns the largest HOA management company in the country — Associa, which has more than 100 offices, 6,000 employees and 7,000 HOA clients in 30 states and Mexico. “

      • danmac says:

        No conflict of interests there…

      • kmw2 says:

        Yup. There’s nothing more neighborly than foreclosing on your neighbor’s house because they’ve racked up a couple hundred bucks in fines for letting their guests park on the street or planting marigolds instead of petunias.

  4. mythago says:

    Let us all be grateful to the Houston lawyer who shot his mouth off on NPR; homeowners’ lawyers all over Texas will be blessing him.

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    From what I understood, many HOA’s could sell your house out from under you for failing to pay a fine or “normal” dues. I remember seeing something about it on I believe Dateline NBC, and I always tell people about it when they say they might enter into a HOA agreement.

    • Momma Volcano says:

      I had never heard of this until about two months ago, when my mother called to inform me that my brother’s house was getting foreclosed upon because they were delinquent in their HOA dues.

      (How delinquent? Very, very delinquent. My brother and his wife, both lovely people, are NOT “detail” oriented. Little things like bills often get “forgotten”. Drives me crazy, but what can you do?)

      I was completely shocked that HOA foreclosure was even possible. A lien I could understand…a foreclosure seemed totally shady to me. And yet I learned it was not only legal, but not uncommon.

      Two things came of this: my brother and his family lost their home and are declaring bankruptcy (it was only a matter of time), and I will never ever ever buy a home with a HOA. I just won’t. I know they aren’t always bad, but they are not for me.

      • FatLynn says:

        Okay, Texas may be broken, but in most places, it just doesn’t work like this. The HOA has to go through many steps notifying the homeowner before they can actually get a judgment against him/her. Even once that happens, the mortgage company may step up and pay the money rather than lose the property.

        • Momma Volcano says:

          For what it is worth, my brother lives in Vegas. I don’t know all the details, though; they may have been through the whole process. I love my brother dearly, so I’m trying my hardest to pretend it didn’t happen so I don’t go foaming at the mouth about irresponsible adults.

        • CPresident says:

          Texas isn’t broken. All HOAs in Texas have to follow a very specific process to do anything in terms of a lien or foreclosure. It involves multiple letters including certified letters, time, and the resident has the opportunity to challenge the fine/notice.
          Our HOA fought to foreclose on a commercial property for over two years. The property had not paid it’s due for 3 years when we started foreclosure.

        • Difdi says:

          Yeah, but notifications like that are “details”. If people are so bad with “details” that they never paid their HOA dues, how likely are they to be able to deal with such notifications?

          • AnthonyC says:

            If you lack the ability to pay attention to those kinds of details, then you lack the ability to own and maintain a home.

            If they truly couldn’t pay, then this is a tragedy. If they simply weren’t paying attention, then this is a sign that they should be renters instead of homeowners.

  6. Paladin_11 says:

    HOA: The new Mafia. I absolutely refused to look at houses that had HOAs when I was shopping. The last thing I wanted was a bunch of blue haired busybodies telling me what I could and couldn’t do with my own property.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Yet cities do this all the time. Do you mind their rules?

      • Froggmann says:

        Yes I do mind them busybodying into my business. If they want to pay my mortgage then they have a say on what I do with my property. Otherwise mind your own business.

      • Jack Handy Manny says:

        Cities don’t usually have a problem with the color of your house, how many cars in your driveway, what type of landscaping you have and what not.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        and that’s why i bought out in the county. my county’s website actually has a page that says “no, we WON’T come tell your neighbors what they can and can’t do with their lawn or where they park their cars. work it out yourself, the county has more important things to deal with”

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        City laws got the landlord down the street shut down for renting his place out to a drug dealer, so yeah, I’m all for reasonable, sensible property laws. HOAs take it several steps beyond sensible, rational or desirable. Get slumlords shut down for letting illegal activity take place in rentals? All for it. Hundred dollar fines because your front door isn’t the right colour? Ridiculous beyond belief, and of no benefit to the community as a whole.

        • Ichabod says:

          I just saw a Craigslist add were a person had to sell their Koi because the HOA they joined do not allow Koi. So yeah HOS’s are absolutely nuts!

    • WayneB says:

      Amen to that. Who wants to live in a neighborhood full of Stepford Houses?

  7. mexifelio says:

    To be fair, this is all in writing and you sign the documents when you purchase your house. It is not hidden or undisclosed in any way. There are many people on both sides of liking and hating HOAs. Most new development (PUDS) all have HOAs and they do well in maintaining common areas, parks, landscaping, and enforcing rules on your neighbors who sometimes take longer than they should in keeping their yards kept.

    • danmac says:

      Yes, but it’s probably not documented in the agreements that the HOA will send people around actively looking for excuses to fine anyone they can. It’s one thing to get fined because your neighbor(s) complain about something and you don’t remedy the situation; it’s quite another if they’re writing ticky-tack fines for minor issues without so much as a warning.

      Is the function of the HOA to keep the neighborhood respectable and clean, or is its function to generate revenue for itself? Motive is an important issue here.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Well, the police don’t tell you how often they patrol a street for parking meters, but that doesn’t excuse you from violating the rule when you park there.

        • partofme says:

          Two completely different timescales.

        • danmac says:

          I see, so the HOA is same thing as the police department, right? Because the police department can take your house and sell it for $3,500 on the courthouse steps if you don’t pay the fine, right? Even though you can fight an unfair police fine by representing yourself in court, while fighting an HOA fine results in thousands of dollars in additional attorney fees from the HOA.

          That’s a terrible analogy, SteveDave.

          • Rachacha says:

            I am speaking as a former HOA board member of my community, but if a homeowner is deliquent in their dues/fines, there is a legal process that must be followed. First, a notice is sent to the homeowner. If the first notice was not from a lawyer, then a second notice is given, after which point a lein is placed on the house, and ultimately the house is sold to collect on the lein. The homeowner is given multiple notices and typically told (as with any past due bill) to contact the HOA if they are experiencing financial hardships.

            While the HOA in this case may be @$$holes for selling the home to collect $500 and the ethics of buying the home for $3500 and selling it for +$100k are questionable, the homeowner needs to take responsibility for their actions and pay dues that they agreed to pay and live by the rules that they agreed to when they purchased the home.

            We have a homeowner in our community that has not paid dues for many years wracking up tens of thousands of dollars in past dues and penalties. The rest of the homeowners are paying their dues to maintain common property. Is it fair for this one homeowner to not have to pay a dime?

            • pot_roast says:

              “The homeowner is given multiple notices and typically told (as with any past due bill) to contact the HOA if they are experiencing financial hardships. “

              We have Associa, and were experiencing financial hardships. They simply do not care. They gave ‘payment arrangements’ that included over $200 in various fees.

              They’re out of our neighborhood in a just over a year, fortunately.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            No I’m not. I am saying that you agree to rules when you enter a HOA. If you have a violation, and they see it, you get a violation. So as long as that violation exists, it’s a violation. What does it matter if they check out violations 3x a week or 1x a week? Why would they even have things that are violations if they didn’t expect to have people check on them. It’s exactly like parking illegally. Yes, a business owner may call you in for parking in a fire zone, but if a cop comes along and sees you parked there, does that make the parking any less a violation?

    • Anonymously says:

      Oh noes, the dreaded long yard. How will America survive that?

      • mexifelio says:

        LOL, i live in Phoenix and every time it rains we get crazy weeds. I remember once when I was going to a friend’s house and you could instantly tell one of the neighborhoods did not have an HOA. The weeds in the front of the yard were so high, you almost couldn’t see the front door.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, because every contract we sign means that we deserve everything that comes with it.

      In a similar vein, mandatory binding arbitration is perfectly acceptable.

      Also, to quote Airplane!: They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash!

      • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

        Yes, because every contract we sign means that we deserve everything that comes with it.

        Um … when you sign a contract, aren’t you saying, “I accept this contract and everything that comes with it?” If you don’t like what’s in the contract, ask for modifications or don’t sign it.

        • code65536 says:

          That’s great in theory. Because in theory, you can negotiate such contracts. You can’t negotiate or modify HOA agreements–it’s take-it-or-leave-it, and with more and more new housing built in areas governed by HOAs, the “leave it” option isn’t as easy as it used to be.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      I’m just wondering how much diligence they do before auctioning off people’s houses. In the case described in the story this all happened while the guy was deployed overseas. We don’t know whether the HOA ever bothered calling, writing, or knocking to remind them of the fees.

    • Difdi says:

      The trouble is when the HOA makes up new things to fine you for, or claims you’ve violated a rule when you haven;t…who does the appeal go to? Why, the same HOA people who fined you, of course!

    • jayphat says:

      I tell you what. It’s been 10 days since my lawn wa last mowed because my wife was in the hospital and I was working the entire rest of the time. It’s none of their damn business if I mow my lawn or not. Now, if it gets to be a serious nusiance(i.e., 1 foot tall and home to unhealthy pests), then we can let the city get involved. Otherwise, take your nosey ass and keep it inside your property.

  8. danmac says:

    By the way…selling houses on the courtsteps for a few thousand dollars…way to turn your neighborhood into a slum, HOA! Although I can’t say you don’t deserve it, you awful, awful people.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Oh don’t worry – when the car shows up on blocks in the yard, they’ll just be evicted till they find someone else to take up the property.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      They sell it in an auction type situation. I doubt the people in attendance from the HOA would allow slummy people in.

  9. Nick1693 says:

    Can we just outlaw HOAs? The only time you hear about them is when they do shit like this.

  10. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Homeowners associations need to be banned. Fosrs.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      They serve a purpose. The real issue is that residents don’t get to write the HOA bylaws, or make amendments later on. If they did, they would put in provisions about how the HOA is supposed to act, and what rights the HOA does or does not have.

      Also, states don’t seem to care much about regulating them.

      • partofme says:

        I can understand the point of view that they’re good for keeping property values up. However, it needs to work more like a contract and less like a de facto government. When I buy a house, we make an agreement. I am from then on bound by that agreement and not whatever ridiculous amendments you choose to make. It’s like a college curriculum getting updated every two years. It automatically applies to new students, but if you came in on an old curriculum, you can choose whether or not to update. In this case, if you want some amendment to apply to me, you better be giving me something I like, too. I really wonder what would happen if someone ever challenged a “we can change this agreement at any time, in any way, without notice, and you are still bound by it” clause as unconscionable, due to its obviously one-sided nature.

      • FatLynn says:

        Wait, what? Why can’t the residents amend the bylaws?

        • jenjenjen says:

          As secretary of my HOA, it’s expensive to amend the bylaws because they’re legal documents. Oddly, I haven’t been able to find any NOLO-type books on how to run an HOA (one exception exists for Florida) – you end up having to go to a lawyer for everything. It’s stupid.

        • Nidoking says:

          In my HOA, we need something like a 97% quorum of owners to make any changes to the bylaws. They have enough problems just getting people to show up to meetings or send in proxy slips. Also, many of the residents in my development are just renters, and many of the owners probably live elsewhere.

          Then again, my HOA hasn’t foreclosed on a guy who’s something like a year behind in his dues. Last year’s budget had line items for the dues he’s supposed to pay and the legal fees involved in getting them.

    • econobiker says:

      HOAs = privatized government in regards to zoning and minor issues yet the real government still collects taxes on the property and provides emergency services.

  11. _Rand_ says:


    I’m kinda surprised we haven’t heard of some guy getting shot for selling his neighbors house out from under him for a few thousand yet.

    Will never live in a HOA++

    • lincolnparadox says:

      It is Texas. Everyone is armed in Texas.

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        Wait, wasn’t there some guy that was fined and lost the house he owned (outright owned, no loan) to the HOA. Rather than turn it over he burned it to the ground, with his possessions / car.

        Lost his job, couldn’t pay the dues. The least funny part for the HOA (other than the burnt shell of a house) was that there was no insurance and he (apparently) had no money in his bank account.

        Start seeing this happen more and you’ll see less HOA’s pulling this sh*t.

  12. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    You were not very smart to buy a house which required HOA anyway. Live AWAY from people, not scrunched together — and there is NO HOA.

    • qwickone says:

      But then you have to live far away. You might be willing to do that, but clearly, most people are not.

    • baquwards says:

      Yeah I could do that, and pay out the butt for gas for two cars to commute, have to replace said cars every 5 years or so because they are worn out, spend hours every day in the car in that commute.

      Or I can deal with an HOA, (one that I studied the rules for BEFORE buying), and not have to worry about living next to a crack house, or having my neighbor turn his lot into a junk yard. I can live a few miles from work and laugh at the schmucks I see on the highway as I pass over them on the overpass.

  13. Osi says:

    HoAs are another word for SCAMMERS. Especially in Washington.

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    HOA members buying the house should be some kind of law violation.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Even if it was, they would use a proxy then, or an LLC.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        If the money trail leads back to the HOa member – it’s still a violation of law (assuming it WAS a law).

    • mommiest says:

      It’s not considered a conflict of interest in Texas.

  15. nbs2 says:

    There is a solution to much of this.

    Sensible homeowners need to run for the Board. Get your sensible neighbors to vote for you. Learn Robert’s Rules of Order. Gut the HOA from the inside.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Yes, but you see – its like Animal Farm.
      The sensible people who run turn into tyrants who harangue you if you don’t cut your grass to their exacting requirements.

    • tungstencoil says:

      I was going to say the same thing, because that’s what we did. There are a lot of reasons we bought our house; the fact that there was an HOA was a bit of a deterrent.

      We’re involved with the board. My partner stood up and said “I want to run for the board because I’m a rational person, and want to limit the potential of busybody crazies to ruin everything.” and got elected. I volunteered for the “architectural” committee, to ensure that people who want to build a shed or porch can.

      Do we enforce the rules? Yes – because we’ve obligated ourselves to it. Do we do it with rationality? Yes – because that’s why we got involved.

      Do we stand up to the crazies? All the time. Seriously, some folks are just CERTAIN that their neighbor’s playscape is in violation (in spite of the fact it’s explicitly excluded from the covenants), or that we should patrol the neighborhood daily to fine people who every day for leaving their trash can visible.

      Luckily, we crush them and their ideas.

  16. dolemite says:

    I’ll never be a member of a HOA. Absolutely refuse. It is un-American, to say the least.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “It’s un-American” doesn’t mean anything, it’s pedantic blabber used to justify a position you have no justifiable reason to hold, or are too unintelligent to come up with a letigimate reason.

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        It is unamerican because it very undemocratic.
        You have no rights when it comes to an HOA.
        You have no free speech when it comes to an HOA.
        With an HOA you never really own your land.

        Remember when most HOAs would not allow you to have a direct tv dish???

    • tundey says:

      How is it un-American? True that in some cases they have misused their powers. But to label it un-Americann without justification is just not fair. In fact, I would say that is un-American.

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        It is unamerican because it is meant to rip you off. You have no protection from it and no constitutional contraints like government entities. Also, it means you NEVER really own your house.
        You have no right to legal counsel.
        Courts have rules that HOAs can legally limit your free speech on your property.
        It is best just not to live in one. It is unamerican to live in one.

        HOAs were originally created to control ponds/water runoff areas used for drainage on common areas of housing developments.
        Builders twisted them to include a bunch of BS to try and sell more homes and to collect more money from home buyers. After the builder makes a bunch of money they will transfer the HOA to the residents where you are at the whim of either good people or fox news watching assholes that will steal your house.

        • Laughing-man says:

          Technically, as long as you have to pay property tax, you don’t own the land. But having to pay property tax AND mortgage AND HOA dues and falling behind on any one of those can lead to foreclosure? Screw HOA. Luckily they aren’t that common in my region.

    • BETH says:

      It is unamerican because it takes away your right to do what you want in your own home. I don’t know why anyone would be stupid enough to agree to this.

    • Total Casual says:

      They’re like private governments without any elections or accountability to their citizens. I’ve never lived in one but it sounds like living in a mini-dictatorship.

  17. farcedude2 says:

    This is why I’m glad I’ll be inheriting a (small) family farm – none of this rigmarole.

  18. JF says:

    Yet another reason not to live anywhere that has an HOA.

    I’m amazed this is legal……

  19. Engine-B says:

    I absolutely can not understand this. You own outright a $300,000 house and because you miss some HOA payments of a few hundred dollars, that $300,000 house is no longer yours? You get absolutely no compensation for someone taking your house? Even if that was in the HOA agreement that something like that could happen, how is that legal in the United States?

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      If you miss payment of $1 in property taxes, the government can sell my home without compensation?

      Local governments love HOAs because it means less city maintenance of what used to be “public areas”.

      I just love that people hate HOAs for doing the same things cities/counties can do, and do on a regular basis….

      Not all HOAs are evil. It’s usually the board members that are. We don’t hear about the good HOAs that are more proficient than the city attorney for stopping things in plain view, like leaving a junker car in the driveway to gather rust, cobwebs, on blocks, etc.

      • Tim says:

        The difference is that the government is democratic. You have to power to elect the leaders and change the laws. Not so much in an HOA.

        • FatLynn says:

          What are you talking about? How do you think people get onto the HOA board?

          • Tim says:

            If you’re on the HOA board, you don’t necessarily have the power to change anything.

          • partofme says:

            The difference is deeper. Even though you can vote in leaders and such, HOAs are not treated like government entities, legally. To use an example from this week, SCOTUS ruled that the second amendment was incorporated to all governments under the federal government.. which is why it applies to the municipality of Chicago. They’re a government entity and are dealt with as such. The rules are very different for an HOA. They perform the role of a de facto government, but try to act like they’re purely a matter of contract. So regardless of whether you can vote people in, there are major problems with the way HOAs work.

      • alienaa says:

        The property isnt sold in a tax sale. The tax bill is sold, and the buyer is entitled to interest. If after a certain number of years, the tax bill is not paid, and the buyer can prove to the court that he made a good-faith effort to contact the property owner, only at that time can the property be turned over to him. I used to work in a property tax department, so I know how that part works.

    • H3ion says:

      Some of it depends on the state. The foreclosure can happen quick and dirty, on the courthouse steps or anywhere the notice provide, but to get a clean deed, the foreclosing party generally has to apply to a court for an order. If the court has any ethics, they would not approve a sale for so much less than the fair market value of the property. In the article, the homeowner had no mortgage but if he did, the purchaser at the foreclosure sale would have to pay off the mortgage.

      FNMA and FHLMC have standard provisions they require in all mortgages which they purchase including HOA provisions. It would be productive (now that the taxpayers own FNMA and FHLMC) to get a friendly Congressman or two to require these organizations to put some relief provisions in the approved HOA documents.

      BTW, I’m an HOA member and was previously the HOA president. We basically don’t bother anyone unless they’re really off the reservation. We also figure that if there are dues owed, we can prevent a property from being sold unless everything is paid.

      • Tom Foolery says:

        Except that Texas is a non-judical state for foreclosures, so the court doesn’t come into it.

  20. Putts says:

    HOAs are the new labor unions. Very few of them do any good, most are simply a blight on this nation.

    • Tim says:

      Wow. Really? That’s quite some logic.

      In other news, Obama is the new Ronald Reagan because they both spoke English. Black is the new brown because they both start with “b.” Apples are they new oranges because they’re both fruit.

      • partofme says:

        Oh come on, everyone can see that your second example is just ridiculous. One starts with “B” and the other starts with “b”. Totally different. See that extra curly thingy?

        • jjmcubed says:

          LOL…. Thank you for injecting some comedy into the comments. You hear me folks? Tomorrow, I declare, every comment must be slathered in sarcasm. Jjmcubed has spoken!!!

  21. ed1chandler says:

    Very difficult to find a house in a subdivision that isn’t in an HOA these days. But it appears many people have the right ideas here. 1) Read what you’re signing when you buy your house, 2) If you don’t want to be subject to an HOA’s rules, don’t buy a house that’s part of an HOA. The one that seems to have been missed so far is: 3) If you are in an HOA, take an active role and don’t let buttheads get elected to the board.

    Things that do not work well are buying a property in an HOA and then: a) Playing the “Nobody ever told me I was buying into an HOA” game, b) Playing the “Yeah, I knew and I signed it, but it’s my property and I’ll do what I want” game. In many cases, if you lose a suit against an HOA for something that’s plainly right there in writing, you’ll end up on the hook for their legal bills as well.

    (Full Disclosure: I own a property in an HOA but have been on the board for 4 years now. We’ve filed leins when people legitimately do not pay their normal dues, but don’t drive around looking for revenue-generating violations.)

    • Engine-B says:

      I have never lived somewhere with an HOA. Can you explain what your HOA does with those dues.

      Also, a lien is different than actually foreclosing on a home. From what I understand of liens, that is the more appropriate action than foreclosing on somebody elses home.

      • kalaratri says:

        Ours plows the streets, maintains the community property and takes care of the garbage. In my friends community, they also cover sewage and water.

      • ed1chandler says:

        The HOA provides whatever services are spelled out in its covenants and by-laws. Often this is landscaping and maintenance of common areas, signs, walking paths, playground equipment, etc. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect SOMETHING for your dues. I mean, … why charge them otherwise? But you’re buying into a home that carries with it an agreement that you will pay X and abide by y while, in exchange, you get Z. It ought not be a one-way arrangement.

        The lien is the first step on the road to foreclosure. It goes like this: 1) You don’t pay. 2) A lien is placed on your property. 3) If it reaches a point where there is no other way to resolve the debt, then that lien is the association’s claim on the property. The same thing happens in most states when you don’t pay a roofer. They put an artisan’s lien on your property and, if you’re a total jerk about not paying them, they can foreclose.

        Simple solution: Read what you sign and pay what you owe.

    • FatLynn says:

      Agreed. I am also on my board, because nobody else will step up and do it, not because I am on some kind of power trip. There are people who seem to think that their assessment is optional, but still expect repairs to happen.

  22. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Seems like they need a change in the law. Perhaps not allowing foreclosure on HOA liens, but still allowing the liens (with interest accruing at the legal rate.) The owner can pay off the lien, or if the house is later sold, the HOA gets paid from the proceeds.

    In addition to filing the liens, the HOAs could also lock people out of services/benefits the HOA provides. A friend of mine lives in a community with an HOA that maintains the grounds, a pool with spa, and a clubhouse/workout room. The community started having a problem with people not paying their dues so the HOA switched the regular keys to the pool area and clubhouse to electronic fob type keys. With the electronic system, the HOA can terminate access to those who don’t pay. They also will fine anyone caught letting in a resident who does not have an operational key. That rule makes my friend not feel bad when another resident knocks on the clubhouse door for access and she refuses.

  23. DanRydell says:

    lulz @ all the HOA hate.

  24. evnmorlo says:

    City government will foreclose and flip your house for less than $500 in unpaid tax/water fees.

    • Tim says:

      And you can appeal that all the way up to the Supreme Court. You can also get a preliminary injunction against the foreclosure.

      Also, if you don’t like how your city charges taxes and/or forecloses on houses, you can run for office to change those things, or vote for people who will change them.

      In an HOA, you have none of those options. They’re completely undemocratic.

  25. jdmba says:

    I have said in other posts to never own property where there is a HOA (especially if it is a condo; which has all the negatives of home ownership combined with all the negatives of apartment dwelling). In response, many posted that condos are their only choice and blah blah blah. Regardless, the advice still stands … never own property where there is a HOA. There is little to no court oversight over their actions, and they know it.

  26. FatLynn says:

    It really depends how delinquent people are. Miss an assessment? Late fee. Miss a year’s worth of assessments? Big difference. If you are in a small building or subdivision, and you don’t pay, you are seriously impeding the services to others.

    This thing in Texas is obviously terrible, but some people think they are entitled to everything the association provides whether or not they pay their assessments.

  27. diasdiem says:

    Yeah, I think I would have to firebomb the house of every board member if they did that to me.

  28. alienaa says:

    HOA’s are the excrement that falls out of trial lawyer’s arses. They are evil, corrupt, power hungry busybodies, who thrive on telling others what to do. It certainly doesn’t take the amount of money these HOA’s charge to run it. Someone’s getting extra money in their pockets.

    The sad thing is these things are popping up everywhere. If you want to buy a new home, you either have to live in the sticks, or get stuck with one of these evils.

  29. DeeJayQueue says:

    What I want to know is, say you pay in full, or you’ve paid off your mortgage. Does the HOA still have any power over you? As far as I knew, all they could do was put a lien on it and get the bank to foreclose. But if there’s no note, you have the deed, there’s nothing to foreclose on and the HOA has no teeth.

    I can see the merits of having a citizen-run organization that keeps up things like trash removal service, common plumbing, Telecommunications contracts, etc. Similar to the super or property manager in a condo building. Fine. It works on paper. But often they’re staffed by cronies, busybodies and nosy bluehairs, because those are the people predisposed to those positions.

    And you end up with stories in the news about how the HOA says you can’t change your car’s oil in your own driveway, or you can’t paint your front door blue if you want, or you can only have a maximum of 3 weeds in your plant bed, or probably the most famous, you can’t have a flagpole in your front lawn even if you’re a veteran.

    For the most part, HOAs came about during the real estate boom in order to maximize everyone else’s house’s ability to sell for a profit. If the whole neighborhood looks good, all the houses are worth more and everyone makes money when they flip. Like it’s a foregone conclusion that everyone in that culdesac would want to flip in 5 years. Now they’re becoming little lawn Nazis because everyone in the neighborhood is stuck upside down in their note, they want out desperately, and they’ll do anything they can to get their property values up or make a buck, including narc-ing you out for having weeds outside the nominal margin, selling your house out from under you and flipping it for profit.

    They need to go.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Any party with a lien on property can foreclose on that lien, forcing a sale of the property to satisfy the lien amount. The law allows the HOA to get a lien against the home for unpaid dues. Once the lien is attached, the HOA can foreclose on the lien. Similarly, imagine the homeowner hit you with his car and you sued him and got a judgment. If he doesn’t pay the judgment within so many days you can move the court for a lien on the home. Once the lien attaches you, just like the HOA or the bank, can foreclose and force a sale.

  30. Commenter24 says:

    I’m torn on this. I do believe that HOAs need to have “teeth” in their ability to collect unpaid dues; however, it seems that non-judicial foreclosure is not a good solution. Making it worse is the extreme conflict of interest when the HOA board directs its attorneys to foreclose and then board members buy on the cheap. It seems to me that there is some sort of middle ground that isn’t so repugnant.

    That said, I’ll co-sign the comments re: the importance of knowing what you’re getting into when you buy a house in an HOA and the importance of paying all the bills that could result in a lien/foreclosure on your house.

  31. Jerry Vandesic says:

    “”I suggest you call the association and cry”

    Come on, this is Texas. With the amount of guns that state has per capita, I would think that the options would be much more than just crying.

  32. JoeTheDragon says:

    NOW What if some HOA fined you for have a Sat Dish even when the FCC law says they can’t?

    CAN they use the unpayed fee / fine and take your home?

    • CharlesFarley says:

      The FCC has preemtive rights. The HOA can make your life difficult, but over the air receive only antennas under a certian diamater are exempt per federal statute.

  33. Cicadymn says:

    My folks like under an HOA. It’s a terrible corrupt piece of shart. You know when you watch COPS and there are the awesome cops who genuinely want to help people, and then there are the total d-bags who just want a little bit of power over their fellow man?

    That’s what HOA’s are. Corrupt sobs that just want a little power over their fellow man.

    So basically they’re the US government.

  34. Red Cat Linux says:

    I live in a section of MD where you get a double whammy: the “Privilege of Living In Columbia” fee and an HOA fee. The fees rankle, especially when even during the real estate crash, Columbia square footage is noticeably higher than other ‘burbs. Some burb rents/prices are higher simply for being next to Columbia.

    Back to the fee thing… The CPRA fee pays for public maintenance and service in Columbia. It is a lien, and unless you are lucky enough to get what people call ‘out parcels’ that are in Columbia but not subject to the CPRA, you gotta pay it. Since the whole place was planned, these 1971-ish and newer homes most all have HOAs.

    On the one hand the HOAs stop your whacky neighbors from building a skate park in their backyard. Not joking… it sounded like rolling thunder in our neighborhood since it was wooden, hollow, and made poorly. Kids went flying off that thing into neighboring yards. It also stops folks from using their front yards as a lawn shark conservatory, and other things that slowly crapify a neighborhood. They are also responsible for street and tree maintenance, grass, open areas, recreational facilities, streams, snow removal… all of which are done well in Columbia.

    On the other hand, they get their undies in a bunch if you change the color of your front door to an unapproved color. They have poor record keeping, and you get bizarre and inconsistent notices about something or other that might be against somebody or other’s architectural guidelines, and it occurred on some date, but they can’t tell you, and at somebody else’s house cause they can’t read house numbers so good – but you have to fix it or they shall taunt you again.

    So over the years I’ve gone a few rounds with the local HOA-uptights and have come out ahead, but it’s a time-sink and a humbug to have to wrestle with these guys.

    But I have my HOA dues on automatic bill pay. Honestly… HOAs are not a new invention – they have this power outside of TX, and it’s not a recent thing. Pay the fee on time like any other bill.

  35. Draw2much says:

    I live in Texas but not in a neighborhood with HOA. In fact, most neighborhoods in my city don’t have HOA. I’ve only come across HOA in “upscale” neighborhoods (meaning houses that sell for more than 200K). Otherwise everyone else is HOA-free.

    And I’m glad too! I’ve lived in military housing most of my life and had to deal with yard inspections. I hate hate HATE being forced to mow my lawn because it’s over an inch long (or whatever stupidly short length they used). Not having to deal with that anymore… is wonderful.

    Btw, I live in a very nice neighborhood. Lots of people here are keen on taking care of their house and yard, even without an HOA. (They must find us slightly annoying, since we let our yard get weedy, our bushes “run wild”, and we don’t *gasp* edge.)

  36. Tom Foolery says:

    My future father-in-law has joked about wandering the neighborhood collecting proxy signatures for the association…then showing up at the next HOA meeting with a couple of hundred votes in his pocket and dictating new rules…

  37. kcvaliant says:

    Yeah, HoAs suck.. We had one in our neighborhood until a few of us rebellious neighbors joined forces and ended it.. Now a few of the uppity fucks are pissed because some colored folks like they like to call them have moved in..

    Here is the kicker why some of us were pissed.. You could not have boats/watercrafts, no sheds, had to have wooden roofs, no clothes lines or vegitable gardens.. But the pricks that originally started it had no problem parking all five of thier cars on the street on both sides to make bottlenecks.. Luckily they are all dying off from old age and common sense is in the neighborhood..

  38. NydiaGeben says:

    If you can’t afford a few hundred bucks in HOA dues, you must be bankrupt. Therefore, foreclosure is in your future.

  39. SiddhimaAmythaon says:

    We have over 30% of my hoa members who are 3+ months behind in dues (600-800 bucks) our HOA just did this to someone for the 1st time recently because the were nearly a year back up and had reneged to payment plans twice. I hope this get the rest of them off there ass and pay we need roofs and shortfalls in budget is preventing it.

  40. Clyde Barrow says:

    Solomons says HOA board members and advocates testify and say, “‘We need the power to access and fine and foreclose, and we need the money.

    Translation: Well, gee, someone needs to pay for our Beemer’s, expensive watches, and my wife’s botox and boob job. Oh and I forgot about the kids. They need new TVs, computers, and my youngest daughter wants a boob job too.

  41. Mknzybsofh says:

    personally if I was the home owner and they did this to me I’d burn the house down. I’d spend the time in jail. HOA’s should be outlawed for doing this.

  42. Shonky McShonk says:

    There is a special place in hell……..

  43. Patriot says:

    You don’t need an HOA to force people to mow the lawn. My grandmother got sick and was unable to get anyone to mow her lawn for a couple months. Then she got a notice from the city saying she had better get her lawn mowed or risk some large fines. She doesn’t live in a subdivision and her home is a good 50 years old.

  44. yankinwaoz says:

    I heard about this case this morning on NPR and just made my blood boil.

    First, there was a serious failure of fiduciary duty by the HOA when it sold the house. There are laws against this in banking. For example, lets say you have a car loan and you are delinquent, but have positive equity in the car. The bank can not just sell the car for the loan amount. They have to try to get fair market value, and any equity goes back to the owner.

    Same things for a house. If you get foreclosed, and their is equity, the mortgage company can not just sell the house for the mortgage balance. They have to try to sell it at market value.

    That is the failing here. The person who sold the house, probably the HOA’s lawyer, failed in his duties and should be sued and disbarred for this.

    In addition, the HOA lawyer seems to have forgotten about the federal law that protects active duty military from crap like this.

    I think their greed made them forget about their job.

    I really hope the HOA lawyer looses everything, including his license, over this case.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Actually public auctions are generally presumed fair and the sale price can’t usually be challenged, unless the former owner can show that the auction was actually rigged. A bank could have done the exact same thing and not been in trouble. The fact it sold for next to nothing isn’t evidence in and of itself that the sale procedures were invalid, especially given that it was a public auction.

  45. jenjenjen says:

    There are HOAs and HOAs. I live in a 7-unit condo complex and the HOA board is me and three of my neighbors. We collect dues to pay insurance on the building, pest control, landscaping, trash collection (city won’t take trash for condos, thanks San Diego), and to save for a new roof which we’ll need in 5-10 years. It is in no way the type of faceless corporate behemoth described by a lot of commenters here. It’s a good way for first-time or lower-income homeowners to pay for some of the expensive things without having to budget independently for them.

  46. gman863 says:

    One of the reasons HOAs are a big deal in the Houston area is a lack of zoning ordinances. If you live in a non-HOA neighborhood, there are no rules against your next door neighbor turning his house into a quickie mart or someone building a pig farm on the vacant lot behind your house.

    This being said, my HOA is a joke: A year ago I got a stern legal notice about a car up on blocks in my front yard – interesting, since the car in question was at a house a block down the street. I responded by suggesting they hire someone who can actually read street addresses.

    Since the latest HOA newsletter said only 60% of the 1900+ homes were current on dues, I actually wish my HOA would grow a pair and start cracking the whip on deadbeats and the few who haven’t fixed their roofs and fences properly in the two years since Hurricane Ike. I pay $300 a year to have the standards enforced; not to have a few trashy homes cheapen the look and value of the entire neighborhood.

  47. peebozi says:

    the market should work itself out on this one. nothing to see here.

  48. Ichabod says:

    Texas: Future (?) penal colony and nothing more.

  49. AnthonyC says:

    So… if an HOA forecloses on a home, what happens to the mortgage? If it were the homeowner selling, then the bank would need to approve a short sale before closing. Surely they have some legal protection against private seizure of property in which they have a much larger financial interest than does the HOA, no?

  50. Fenrisulfr says:

    I do not know of a bullion dealer that will take my gold for failure to pay dues. Real estate is a sucker’s bet in this economy, they are giant black holes for money.

  51. Joe Gamer says:

    HOA’s need some serious regulatory reform, Mine is brutal but it is next to impossible to find new construction without one. It’s just greed, plain and simple. Greed at the expense of the average joe.

  52. smo0 says:

    They did an X-Files episode on HOA’s. I suggest everyone check it out. IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE!

  53. hoi-polloi says:

    I was thinking about this as I walked my dogs last night. I love my weird neighborhood. I love the varied architecture. I love that when we wanted to build a fence, we just walked over to our neighbors’ houses and talked to them about it. If you plant something weird in your garden, people ask, “What the hell is that?” out of curiosity. They’re not looking to check it against the approved plant list.

    My wife and I have rain barrels, a whirligig clothesline thing, a vegetable garden, and a few chickens in the yard. This is all in the city. When my wife told the next-door neighbors we were building a chicken coop, they said, “Just so long as you don’t get a cow.” We respect our neighbors; we help our neighbors. That said, we do what we want. I’ll gladly put up with the few inconveniences and eyesores that that freedom brings. There’s no way I could put up with a HOA and beige sprawl.

  54. jsn says:

    While there may be problems with a few HOA’s, the real problem is corrupt HOA management companies. At the condo where I live, we’re on our third one in five years – and except for the new one (yet) they were all a bunch of thieves in every way.