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Homeowner lands in court due to wild HOA fee saga: ‘A lawyer is going to love this’

HOAs have relatively little oversight considering how much power they hold, and they can assess fines for even minor infractions like weeds or the wrong color paint.

HOAs have relatively little oversight considering how much power they hold, and they can assess fines for even minor infractions like weeds or the wrong color paint.

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner claimed their homeowners association fine ballooned into thousands of dollars worth of legal fees when the HOA refused to play fair.

“I’ve been strong-armed by lawyers to pay nearly $5000,” they said in a post on an anti-HOA subreddit.

Their story is a sadly common one. 

HOAs have relatively little oversight considering how much power they hold, and they can assess fines for even minor infractions like weeds or the wrong color paint. Many stand between homeowners and money-saving, environmentally friendly upgrades like solar panels, and when homeowners misstep, they may just find their HOAs have the power to foreclose on their homes.

Outdated HOA policies like these prevent people from being able to make decisions to adopt clean, renewable energy sources and sustainable landscaping practices.

According to this homeowner, the disagreement with the HOA started about six years earlier. “I was [in New York City] for a few months to help [my wife] get settled in. I kept my lawn up, but missed the notice. … They tacked on $125 per month penalty (rules stipulated $25/month late fee).”

The homeowner called to pay the fine but disputed the late fee; in the middle of that process, while playing phone tag with the HOA, they were informed that the bill was sent to collections despite their active efforts to pay it. Multiple trips to court, ignored letters, liens against the home, and negotiations with lawyers later, the original poster had worked out a payment plan with the HOA.

“Fast forward [six years]. Making payments, all is good. Then I get a bill, including late fees,” said the original poster. “I called the law firm and left a message that I had been making payments and would be happy to show my receipts to a judge. Day of court arrives and I show up with my receipts only to find out that the HOA’s law firm requested the judge to move the date forward by ONE WEEK. I was never notified.”

After all the trouble the HOA had put them through, this homeowner was ready to fight the association and asked Reddit for ideas.

“They refused payment,” said one user. “A lawyer is going to love this.” Others echoed the call for a lawyer.

“You can get a board member involved with the payment mess. Management screwing up payments is not uncommon,” suggested another commenter.

It’s also possible to change an HOA’s rules yourself by following its internal processes. Get started with this guide.

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