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What is an HOA Lien?

What is an HOA Lien

What is an HOA Lien

A Homeowner’s Association Lien (HOA) lien is a legal claim on your property due to unpaid HOA dues or HOA bylaw violations. Like other property liens, once an HOA lien is placed on your property you will run into issues if you try to sell your home. And in the worst case scenario, an HOA lien can cause you to lose your property.  But don’t panic, although HOAs are allowed to claim your property as collateral, you can get HOA liens removed.

But before we talk about getting an HOA lien removed, lets look at the causes of HOA liens so you can learn more about your situation so you have a clear path to getting it removed.

The Two Causes of HOA Liens

The two things that will cause you to get an HOA lien include unpaid association dues and broken HOA bylaws.

  • HOA dues are owed monthly to maintain the property or community.  These dues are used to pay for road maintenance, repair shared roofs and for the upkeep of club rooms and common areas.
  • Breaking bylaws can include anything from painting your house blue if the bylaw requires it to be yellow or not maintaining your lawn.

Note: An HOA lien does not need to be filed in court to be considered binding. But your homeowners association may still file the lien in court to make their case stronger if they choose to pursue legal action.

Now that you know the causes of an HOA lien, lets look at the worse case scenario, and then how to remove it and if your HOA can foreclose on your home.

Can an HOA Foreclose on Your Home?

Yes, an HOA is allowed to foreclose on your home once they’ve placed an HOA lien on it. If your HOA does foreclose on you, the process is almost identical to a traditional foreclosure. If you’ve received a pre-foreclosure notice from your HOA, it’s time to spring into action.

Each state has different foreclosure laws, requirements and options for you to avoid losing your home.

Here are a few examples from around the country*:

  • California: 30-day notice must be given before lien is filed, and foreclosure can begin 12 months after dues are delinquent.
  • Florida: Foreclosure can only begin 45 days after you are notified of foreclosure.
  • Virginia: Foreclosure begins 60 days after you’re notified.

Visit your state’s .gov website to learn more about the foreclosure laws where you live.

Ultimately an HOA foreclosure is rare. The process is time-consuming, and the HOA risks not getting its money back. Instead, your HOA will likely leave the lien on your property and try to make your life difficult because it is less work, less costly and less stressful for them; while making it difficult for you to sell your home.

It is difficult to sell a house with an HOA lien because buyers don’t want to purchase a home that is already in trouble. It means more hassles and more headaches for the new homeowner.

How do you Remove an HOA Lien?

To get rid of an HOA lien you’ll either need to pay any dues and fees that are outstanding or if the missed payments are a clerical error, contact the HOA to clear it up. Mistakes happen, so if the HOA lien is an administrative error write to your HOA letting them know while providing evidence that you are up to date on dues and have not violated any association bylaws.

If missed dues are not a mistake and you fell behind on your HOA dues, try to workout a payment plan.  Many HOAs are reasonable and will want to work with you.  They will likely understand that sometimes job loss or medical bills happen.

If for some reason your HOA still won’t remove the lien, you could try taking them to court.  Or if you want to be rid of the hassle, you can find a real estate investment company like ours and sell your house for cash. The HOA may just have it out for you and this is a way for you to move on without the headaches and hassle.

If the HOA lien is from a bylaw violation, get it in writing what the violations are and even if you’re not happy with having to make changes, once they are complete you will have cleared the reasons why an HOA lien was placed on your property and can then get it removed.

HOA liens are not the end of the world. They can be placed by accident, or because you didn’t know you broke a bylaw.  Other times it could be job loss and you fell behind on your payments.  They are not the end of the world. You always have options to have the HOA lien lifted, or you can simply sell your house to a buyer that doesn’t mind and move on with your life.  And if you want to sell but cannot find a buyer, contact us to sell your house fastWe buy houses with HOA liens on a regular basis.

*Please note the law can change at any given time.  These were accurate at the time of publishing.

About Brad Chandler

About Brad Chandler

Brad Chandler has played a pivotal role at Express Homebuyers since co-founding the company in 2003, transforming it into a customer-focused real estate firm. With a passion for real estate sparked in the 9th grade, Brad, as CEO, steers the company with strong ethical principles and takes pride in cultivating a dedicated team of professional homebuyers.

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