Troubleshooter: Homeowners association bill

Sheri and Gary Leider once owned this home in the Brier Creek Country Club neighborhood.
April 6, 2011 1:15:53 PM PDT
A local lawmaker says he thinks homeowners associations have gotten out of control.His claims refer to HOA's power of being able to force homeowners out of their homes over unpaid dues.

Just paying your mortgage doesn't mean your home is safe. If you belong to a homeowners association and don't pay your dues, the HOA can foreclose on your house.

It's perfectly legal, but some lawmakers are hoping to change that.

"It's gotten out of control and they've basically become a mini government into themselves," North Carolina Representative Rodney Moore said.

That's why Moore says he backs a bill that stops HOAs from foreclosing on homeowners.

"I don't feel the HOA should have that power to arbitrarily foreclose on a homeowner if that's the only issue," he said.

The Leider family says they are all too familiar with the power of HOAs.

They used to live in a Brier Creek Country Club home. After falling on tough times, they were kicked out of it not because they didn't pay their mortgage, but because the HOA foreclosed on them for unpaid dues.

"It was $800 and they kept adding fees," Sheri Leider said.

Adding late and legal fees, the debt to their HOA grew to more than $3,000.

"The HOA just threw me out of my house," Leider said. "It was absolutely humiliating."

The management company for Brier Creek Country Club HOA said they tried to work with the Leiders by offering a payment plan and extended the foreclosure process several times. But ultimately when the Leiders didn't pay what they owed, the representative said the HOA had to move forward with foreclosure.

"It's sad, but the association has an obligation to all its members to run in a fiscally responsible manner as part of that responsibility," said Vince Matal with Tallis Management. "But letting people not pay and not perfecting a lien is irresponsible."

But Representative Moore says he questions how responsible it is to kick someone out of their home not for failing to paying their mortgage, but all over HOA dues.

"In this economic environment we're still struggling with regular foreclosures and it's just another undue burden on the citizens and we need to try and get them some type of leeway to help them navigate through this time," he said.

The bill Moore is backing is just in committee right now, but he says he's hopeful the bill can be heard in the short session, which is late summer into fall.

As for the Leiders' former Brier Creek home, while the HOA foreclosed on them back in 2009, two years later the HOA still has the deed on it.

The HOA has now paid thousands on the home insuring it and maintaining it all while the home sits empty, because Bank of America still holds the mortgage on the home. The bank is still owed all the money from the mortgage and has a lien on the property preventing it from being sold until it's paid off.

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