L.D. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Help! I have been continually harassed by my HOA for years. I have received numerous and constant frivolous violations and two attempts at foreclosure for just a few hundred dollars in delinquencies. The constant letters and threats have brought me to my breaking point. Unfortunately, in this market selling is not an option. I simply want the harassment to stop. I have even been told by other board members that the current members have indeed targeted me. Where can I turn for relief? I want the harassment to stop.
Mister Condo replies:
L.D., no one should be targeted by their HOA Board for harassment. If you can prove the charge, I encourage you to consult with an attorney and take advantage of your legal rights. However, I must ask you why do you think you have been targeted? You mention being cited for community violations that are “numerous” and “frivolous”. Most HOA residents simply follow the rules of their HOA and are never cited for any violations. Are you following the rules? If not, the democratically elected volunteer members of your HOA Board have a duty to enforce the regulations of your HOA. That’s what they were elected to do. Check the by-laws of your HOA. It is most likely that the Board needs to inform you of the violation before fining you and offer you an opportunity to appear before the Board to contest the fine. If the Board isn’t following due process in serving you, you have the right to question their fines and perhaps be excused from them.
Foreclosures are another story entirely. Foreclosure is the final tool that an HOA has to collect monies owed to it, either through common fees, special assessments, or, in your case fines. It usually takes several months for a foreclosure action to be brought against a homeowner. The simple solution is to pay any monies owed to your HOA in a timely fashion. Even if you disagree with a fine, you should pay it and then fight the fine, either on your own or with the help of an attorney. Without monies owed to them, your HOA cannot foreclose against you for financial reasons.
If your goal is to stay in your HOA until the market gets better, I’d recommend playing nice until then. If your goal is to remain in your community and work with the Board to remedy the situation, I’d suggest reaching out to the Board members who alerted you that you were being targeted and ask what you can do to quickly make amends. If your goal is to engage the Board in battle, hire an attorney and bring suit. I hope you’ll choose one of the first two options but if not, you always have the third option. Good luck!