The Orlando area — as well as the entire state of Florida — is full of homes governed by a homeowners association. If you own a condo, townhouse or other home that is part of a subdivision or planned community, you know that there is significant value in having another party responsible for the upkeep of common areas and shared amenities, not to mention the protection of your home’s property value.
But that convenience and protection comes with a price, often a hefty one. HOA membership and compliance is typically not voluntary, nor are the monthly dues. No matter what gripes you may have regarding HOA rules and fees, you cannot opt out of them and doing so could put you at risk of foreclosure on your home. Before you decide to stop paying dues out of protest or a lack of funds, beware of these consequences:
- You could face expensive fines. Whether it’s because you’re angry about the restrictions on exterior decorating or you simply can’t afford your next HOA dues, skipping HOA payments is tempting, but a very bad idea. In Florida, HOAs can start charging fines on a daily basis once you’re 90 days delinquent on your dues. You may also be denied access to common areas at that point.
- The HOA will file a lien on your property. If you fail to pay your dues, the association will likely file a formal demand for payment. This is a precursor to filing a lien on your home. You will have 45 days from that time to pay all outstanding fees, which may include interest, attorney fees and any costs associated with preparing that demand.
- Your property may be foreclosed. If you failed to settle up with your HOA after receiving a formal demand for payment, you can expect the association to foreclose on your property. If your mortgage lender has already initiated foreclosure proceedings because you can’t make those payments either, your HOA’s lien will be eliminated. But this will not absolve your debt to the association.
If you can’t afford your HOA dues, it’s time to re-evaluate your entire household budget and seek aggressive solutions. That may mean finding less expensive housing and/or seeking bankruptcy protection. In the midst of that decision, you must make HOA payments a priority to avoid further legal and financial trouble.