There are several ways that you could wind up owing money to your homeowners’ association (HOA) or condo association.
The most common debt is your regular assessment, which covers building and property maintenance in common areas, and may also include security, utilities, water and sewer fees, garbage collection, cable TV and/or internet services.
You could also find yourself responsible for paying special assessments if the HOA lacks reserve funds to cover unexpected repairs or capital investments like the replacement of an HVAC system. Special assessments can come as a big surprise – and a big burden if the property owner can’t afford it.
You could also face fines from your HOA if you intentionally or unintentionally violate a rule or restrictive covenant.
Texas state law gives your homeowners’ association or condo associations the right to put a lien on your property if you fail to pay these assessments, fees or fines. You can also be sued personally. If you believe the HOA lien is unfair, understand your options under Texas state law.
The Impact of a Lien on Your Property
The HOA will record a lien on your property in the county land records. By doing so, the debt you owe is now attached to your property.
- If you try to sell, a title search will show that there is a lien on your home, the amount of the lien, and the lien holder.
- When you sell the property, the HOA will be paid before you receive any money from the sale.
- In some cases, the HOA can force the sale of your property (foreclosure) in order to collect the money it is owed.
HOA Liens and Collections Processes in Texas
Exactly how the collections process will work in your case is governed by the declarations found in the HOA or condo association agreement that you signed when you purchased your property, as well as by the Texas Property Code.
Texas Property Code governs who receives notice of a lien, whether you must be offered a chance to fix a violation, whether the HOA can force the sale of your property through foreclosure and what type of foreclosure, among other things. Texas’ homestead protection law can, in some situations, protect a homeowner from foreclosure on a primary residence.
Texas Property Code also outlines what kind of debts your HOA can try to recovery by forcing a foreclosure. For example, the HOA cannot force a foreclosure to recover debt that only includes fines, attorneys’ fees related to fines, or charges for copying or a recount request.
Texas law also gives association members the right to take action on their own behalf. For example, association members can call a special meeting to vote on removing or amending an association’s foreclosure powers, if 10% of an association’s members join in a petition to call for such a meeting.
HOAs and Debt Collection Harassment
HOA fees are debts and HOA members are considered “consumers” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. That means HOAs cannot use harassing tactics or unlawful debt collection practices in order to collect on delinquent assessments. If they do so, the property owner can file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General and can sue.
Know Your Rights and Options If Your HOA is Putting a Lien on Your Property
If you are having a dispute with your homeowners’ association or condo association over assessments, fees or fines, or you are suffering HOA debt harassment, talk to an attorney at the Fell Law Firm. Call at 972-450-1418 or send us a message.