Is your HOA or condominium suing you?
Maybe you think -- or even know -- that you're current on your assessments. Or maybe you might be a little behind in your payments...but certainly not by that much! So why is your HOA suing you -- or threatening to sue you -- for so much more?
The association's lawyers will tell you they are entitled to late charges, collection costs, attorneys' fees, and court costs, but the real answer is far more complicated. While an HOA might be entitled to some of these charges and costs if it proves them in court, they first need to prove them. Far too often we find that the HOA, its management company, or its attorneys have simply added these amounts to your ledger. In some cases, these additional charges are multiples of the actual assessments that you owe. Then they tell the judge that you are responsible for the total amount. Period. They present the total balance to the judge and say that you owe it because it is on there.
But the law is not supposed to work this way. Imagine if you went into a store and the owner just started adding on various charges to your bill. A billing fee. A stocking surcharge. A customer charge. You'd want to know what each of these charges is, where the right to charge them comes from, and whether those amounts are reasonable. We do not expect you to pay them simply because they are listed on an invoice. Why should these rules by any different for your HOA?
They shouldn't be but all too often homeowner associations seem to play by their own set of rules. This is why we strongly recommend hiring, or at least consulting with, a lawyer the very first minute you learn about a dispute with your HOA. Early intervention in some cases can prevent a lawsuit or prevent the association from obtaining an excessive judgment against you.