A GLIMPSE INTO FFK's WORLD: While this is not one of my own real estate cases, this is the exact type of thing my job consists of on a daily basis (in fact, next week I have to do this very thing to a low income widow who is 5 years behind on HOA dues). I have been in this attorney's shoes before (I will be again), and it is no simple task.
NEWS STORY: Dan has a traumatic brain injury and is partially paralyzed. Elaine says she went for six or seven weeks with open sores on her legs. She suffers from a disease that causes painful sores and swelling in her legs and has bouts of severe depression. The couple says the HOA dues were simply not a priority as they dealt with getting through their illnesses. They say certified letters from the HOA's attorney went unopened or thrown out because they thought it was junk mail.
Still, they think the HOA has gone too far.
"There's no way in hell this association should do this to retired or disabled people." HOA's usually don't sell homes of those who owe them money. Instead, if you don't pay your dues, the association slaps a lien on your house. That way you have to pay up before you can sell it.
Instead filing a lien, the Heritage Hills HOA took the unusual step of foreclosing and selling the house. The Lambert's home sold at a public auction on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse. The house valued at $156,000 sold for only $2,200. That is the amount the Lamberts owed after late fees, attorneys fees and interest were added. Tom Newton is the HOA attorney who sold the Lambert's home. "I'm not kicking anybody out of their house, rather, what I'm doing is holding them to the obligation they accepted when they bought the property."
When asked "do you feel comfortable kicking a disabled family out of their home for a few hundred dollars in HOA fees," Newton replied, "I feel comfortable in taking those steps necessary to enforce my client's legal rights, and if that means that ultimately somebody may go through this foreclosure process, it's unfortunate, but it is a consequence of their own making." During all of this, no one with the HOA or its attorney ever picked up the phone and called or came to the Lambert's home.
"Don't you think if you're going to take their home away from them you should at least go talk to them face to face?" "No, I don't," Newton answered, "I don't, and I'll tell you there are some people out there who have whatever sort of issues they have. They become violent when you approach them about their shortcomings or failure to abide by their obligations, and I think it is a dangerous situation."
The Lamberts say they're not dangerous or violent. They're just surprised that a HOA can go so far because they owe so little. The HOA says it sent the Lamberts certified letters during the three years they did not pay their dues, and they had plenty of opportunities to pay up and keep their house. Wednesday, the Lamberts sit down with the HOA and the investment company that bought the house. They're going to try and come up with a way where the Lamberts can keep their home.
Click to view image: '100254-HOA_dues.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|