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Homeowner sues, faces foreclosure over massive HOA fine: ‘It has been terror’

“This sounds like a simple fix with all fines and fees waived.”

"This sounds like a simple fix with all fines and fees waived."

Photo Credit: iStock

Redditors were shocked by the story of Jennifer Jackson, a condo owner in Charlotte, N.C., who was fined over $18,000 and threatened with foreclosure — all for a leak that was the homeowners association’s responsibility to fix.

The Charlotte Observer covered the story, interviewing Jackson, who had been fighting the fines since 2018. “It has been terror,” she told the publication.

Jackson had lived in her condo for 11 years when she got a notice about a leaky AC unit in July 2018. Professional inspections revealed that the air conditioner itself was fine but that a drain pipe — which was supposed to be maintained by the HOA — was leaking on the unit below.

Nevertheless, the HOA began to fine Jackson $100 per day for an issue she had no responsibility or authority to fix.

In much of the United States, HOAs have the power to levy fines over even minor infractions like weeds or the wrong color of paint. Once those fines have built up enough, the HOA can place a lien on a home — the first step toward foreclosure.

Some states have laws protecting residents from this. But in others, owners have had their houses sold from under them — sometimes for pennies on the dollar and without receiving a cent themselves.

When the HOA is the one at fault for a maintenance issue, however, it can be much harder to hold them accountable — even when they’re costing residents money and damaging the home and the environment by wasting water. Residents may need to change HOA rules or resort to legal action to see any relief.

In Jackson’s case, the HOA tried to foreclose on the condo. Jackson had no choice but to pay over $19,000 to prevent foreclosure and then try to recover the money through a lawsuit that was still ongoing.

“We did that in an effort to motivate her to fix the problem,” said Fred Ervin, president of the HOA board, when the Charlotte Observer asked him about the outrageous fine.

Commenters were horrified at how far the case had spiraled. “This sounds like a simple fix with all fines and fees waived,” said one user. “Get in touch with the HOA attorney, set up a meeting, bring all of the paperwork you have that shows what went on, … demand that that board president and/or the property manager be in attendance of said meeting.”

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