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HOA and Condo Liens and Remedies Over Residential Property

Surendran K. Pattel Attorney & Counselor at Law, PKS Law Firm, PLLC

Surendran K. Pattel
Attorney & Counselor at Law, PKS Law Firm, PLLC

Question: What are the ramifications of not paying the fees or dues assessed by a homeowners’ or condominium association?
If you own a house in a conventional subdivision in Fort Bend or Harris County, there is a good chance that you are required to pay dues and/or maintenance fees to a homeowners’ association (HOA). If you reside in a condominium complex in either county, it is likely that you pay similar fees to a condominium board or association.
Such fees are meant to pay for the upkeep the community property: pools, clubhouses, streetlights, communal mailboxes, playgrounds, tennis courts, and other niceties that contribute to defining a neighborhood’s brand. When it comes to condominiums, the fees also may be used to maintain the exterior or interior communal areas of the buildings themselves. The fees, as well as the procedures used to raise the fees, should be available to all property owners prior to purchase and at closing.
If you fail to pay your association fees/dues, you might end up with a lien on your property because you have essentially violated some provisions of your deed restrictions. Once those restrictions were recorded, the result was notice and perfection of title. No other action or notice is needed unless otherwise provided in the deed restrictions.
A lien is defined as “a form of security interest granted over . . . property to secure payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation.” So, while you will not face anything as dramatic or troublesome as immediate foreclosure because of those unpaid fees/dues, the lien will remain until you settle your debt to your HOA. However, that is not to rule the possibility of foreclosure: there are circumstances in which foreclosure can be pursued.
After foreclosure, the property owner can redeem the property within 180 days in the case of an HOA lien and 90 days in the case of a condominium association lien. Redemption can be achieved by repaying all amounts due. Settlement could be much more costly than you expect, as it could involve interest, fines, and charges for legal fees, as well as the delinquent fees/dues. Furthermore, if you do not settle before you attempt to sell your property, the issue will follow you into the closing on your property: Any lien will show up on the required title search and all debts must be accommodated before the sale is complete.

Disclaimer: Information in this column is meant to be general and informational; it is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your personal situation before you take any action that has legal consequences.
Bio: Surendran K. Pattel is an Indian-born attorney in private practice in the Houston area. He is the founder of PKS Law Firm, PLLC. He is licensed to practice in Texas, United States District Court Southern District of Texas, and in India. To contact please email: adv.surendran@gmail.com

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