Florida families who are currently struggling to make ends meet now have a new obstacle to contend with: HOA legal fees. If you live in a condominium, apartment complex or townhouse, it is likely that you are required to pay homeowner’s association (HOA) fees on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. These fees are used to for numerous items such as lawn maintenance, snow removal and other services that the association chooses to provide to the community.
Recently, The Orlando Sentinel reported that numerous homeowners have been dragged into foreclosure proceedings because of an HOA debt. Reportedly, the average outstanding HOA debt is somewhere around $3,000. Homeowners that fail to pay up right away may find themselves in the midst of a foreclosure action. At that point, settling the matter isn’t as easy as merely writing a check to the HOA.
According to local new sources, one family had $200 in outstanding HOA fees but ended up paying more than $2,000 once the legal fees were added to the bill to compensate the homeowner’s association. Another woman ended up paying close to $15,000 in legal fees for a dispute over a past due amount of $58. Some local attorneys suggest reaching out to your homeowner’s association right away to set up a payment plan if you are unable to pay your HOA fees in full.
In some states, legislators are attempting to place a cap on the amount of legal fees that can be charged to the homeowner in foreclosure and HOA debt actions. As of right now, no fee cap laws have been passed. Therefore, keeping the lines of communication open with your homeowner’s association may be the best way to settle disputes over HOA fees without getting the association’s lawyers involved.
Orlando Sentinel: “Collection fees bury homeowners late on association dues,” Mary Shanklin, 10 Jun. 2011