What to do about a lump sum payment being imposed on all condo owners?

I own a townhouse and we have an HOA fee that it is making us pay. It is an extra $00-$300 this year lump sum on top of the monthly $120 HOA fee. Do I have to pay it or what rights do I have on this? The townhouse is vacant right now and I am going to sell as soon as I can but they told me that if I don’t they will put a lien on the home. Can they do that?

Asked on September 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Utah


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, many people purchase property with HOA's not realizing that they forfeit many rights and priviledges that everyone else in the free world have.  The imposition of fees for "just owning property," is one of those restrictions.  You may or may not have a remedy to the new fees.  The HOA derives it's authority from the HOA board and the charter or agreement which created it.  If the HOA charter permits the imposition of this fee, then you are stuck with it... and yet they can place a lien against your property to collect on it.  However, if the HOA charter does not allow the imposition of the fee... or if the procedures for the imposition of the fee were not followed, then you would have a basis for challenging the imposition of the fee.  To do so usually requires the filing of a lawsuit and the payment of a filing fee.  Before you file, though, you may want to try to get others to go in on the suit with you.  If it's just you, then the suit would not be very cost effective.  Most courts charge filing fees which run around $300-- so you'll end up spending $300 to save $300.  So, if you have mulitple people willing to oppose the fee in court, the more cost effective the action would be.

Another option is a little different... but if you have several people on your side and you're all fed up with an abusive HOA board, then you need to get a copy of the by-laws for election of new members.  Run for the board, get several like-minded, reasonable people on it, and repeal the new fee. 

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