Pay Your Assessments...Even if your HOA Refuses to Accept Them

So you find yourself behind in your HOA assessments. The HOA lawyers are circling. Maybe they've threatened a lawsuit or already filed it? You call the HOA to try to find out how much you owe, but they just send you to the attorneys. You call the attorneys and leave countless messages. Or maybe they speak to you, but the amount they tell you that you owe is a lot more than you owed...because the HOA has added late fees, collection fees, and a ton of attorneys' fees to your account. It feels like an excessive amount to charge for a letter or two. You want to bring your account current, if only to avoid foreclosure, but you don't have the outrageous amount they're demanding that you pay. So what do you do?

Pay your assessments. Sit down, calculate the unpaid assessments that you owe, and send in a check for the full amount of the unpaid assessments. If you cannot afford to pay, in full, the assessments that you owe, pay what you can. Write "Assessments" on the memo line of the check. Then, deliver the check in person (and get a receipt) or send it by certified mail so you have a record of the check being sent. It sounds silly, but also make a copy of the check and, if possible, video yourself putting the check into the envelope and sealing the envelope (it is amazing how many times the HOA has claimed it never received a check). 

If they refuse to accept the check, send it back to them. If they tell they cannot accept "partial payments," resend the check to them and instruct them, in writing, to apply your payments to unpaid assessments. Document and keep everything. Make them accept your assessments. If they keep rejecting it, keep sending it back in, keeping or taking photographs every time of the envelopes come to you.

Your payment -- or attempted payment -- of assessments is a valuable defense if your HOA decides to file a foreclosure lawsuit. You might not be able to avoid a lawsuit, but at least you can prepare to defend the lawsuit. Imagine yourself in court six months or a year later when the HOA wants to sell your home at a sheriff's sale to collect unpaid assessments. If you have records showing every time you paid or attempted to pay those assessments, it very well may be the differenec between losing and saving your home!