Homeowners associations (HOAs) can be demanding of your time, energy, and finances. Every HOA contract contains covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that determine most things about your property, from how tall the grass should be to what color you can paint your house. HOAs expect you to maintain a property with a specified level of care. The benefit to you is you get to live in a well-maintained community. For this benefit, you pay association dues.
But there are consequences if you do not abide by the CC&Rs in your agreement. For example, if you do not maintain your property correctly, you can be fined by the HOA for each offense. This means that on top of your regular HOA dues, you would owe additional fees. The same is true if you stop paying your HOA dues. So what happens if you fall out of good standing with your HOA and they want you out? Can an HOA evict you?
An HOA cannot evict a homeowner in the same way a landlord or mortgage lender can. They do not have the right to send you a notice of eviction if you are the rightful owner of your home. However, this doesn't mean they will not try to use the law to force a homeowner out in other ways. If you fall into bad standing with your HOA through unpaid dues or fines, your HOA could file a lien on your property. A lien on your property would allow the HOA to seek compensation for the debts you owe. They could do this by requesting foreclosure of your property to collect payment through the forced sale of your home.
When this happens, you could be forced out of your home even if you are in good standing on your mortgage. So, while an HOA cannot necessarily evict you, it can make it impossible for you to stay in your home. Likewise, a lien can make selling your home or refinancing your mortgage difficult.
It is possible to remove a lien from your home. The first way to do so involves paying off your debts to your HOA in full. Usually, this is cheaper than fighting the debt in court. However, you can file a counterclaim if you think that the lien has been placed on you unfairly due to unjustified fines or that your HOA was not upholding their responsibilities. An experienced attorney can determine the best path forward for your specific situation.
Veitengruber Law has years of experience with foreclosure and real estate law in New Jersey. We know the stakes are high when your homeownership rights are on the line. We can help you work with your HOA before things get dire or protect your rights after an HOA has begun trying to force you out.