A Florida man is facing foreclosure on his home over an unpaid homeowners association bill.

The man, who is the father of a son in elementary school, and his wife bought their home in Beulah, Florida. They were young and starting out. He was still in school, and to help ends meet, the couple rented a room to a friend.

But in 2013, the man’s wife died unexpectedly, and their friend moved out. The man was left to raise their son on his own.

“I ended up quitting my job. I ended up flunking out of a bunch of classes,” the 31-year-old told the Pensacola News Journal. “As you can imagine, any time something like this happens in life, it’s never expected, and you just don’t really know how to deal with it, especially being 24 years old.”

He got back on his feet eventually. And along the way, in 2015, he received a letter from the homeowners association demanding about $860 in unpaid fees.

He didn’t have the money then, so he put the issue on the back burner until mid-2017 when he tried to contact the HOA to make payment arrangements. He said he never could reach a representative and put the bill in the back of his mind again.

By the time he reached someone to settle the bill, the debt had grown to $2,000, and he said the sides settled on $1,500. When he got the documentation, the amount due was $2,000. He said he called to ask what happened to the arrangement but never heard back.

Finally, the outstanding bill was sent to collections, and the homeowner was sued in county court. The judge issued an order that the man had to pay nearly $8,900 in principal, interest, court costs and other fees.

His house, which is worth about $230,000, was set to go up for auction.

This case is an example of why it’s important to take action and be up front if you can’t make a mortgage payment, or in this case, pay a homeowners association bill. There are steps this man could have taken along the way to avoid a foreclosure. Had he involved an attorney early in the process, the case would have had a better chance of a favorable outcome.