irismagnolia

Being Sued by Homeowner's Association, Should I Offer to Settle Out of Court

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I live in GA and am being sued by my homeowner's association for unpaid dues in the amount of $3800 which includes court costs, interest and legal fees.  I was laid off for 3 1/2 years which caused me to get behind.  My court date is at the end of this month.

I actually owe $2958 and am willing to try to work out arrangements to pay the $2958 before the court date to avoid going to court.  I was wondering if I should contact the attorney's office and offer to make a payment (I could give them at least $1500 now) and see if they'd be willing to settle the debt for the $2958 (I could give them the rest over the next 30 days), what exactly should I say when I call, and if they agree, what should I have them provide me with to show that we worked out a settlement arrangement, and when I make my last payment what I should have them submit to me or any other parties to show that I paid the debt?

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Some good info here-

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defenses-hoa-foreclosure.html

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/georgia-hoa-foreclosures.html

Any SOL possibilities? Was it over 4 years back?

Requesting a Statement of Assessments Due

Upon request, the association must provide you with a statement setting forth the amount of assessments past due, plus late charges and interest. You must make the request in writing and deliver it to the registered office of the association. (Be sure to tell the association where you want the statement sent.) The association may charge a fee (not to exceed $10) for issuing the statement, if the declaration allows it (Ga. Code Ann. § 44-3-109(d), 44-3-232(d)).

If the association does not mail or otherwise furnish you with the statement within five business days after receiving your request, the lien is extinguished (nullified)(Ga. Code Ann. § 44-3-109(d), 44-3-232(d)).

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12 hours ago, CCRP626 said:

Any SOL possibilities? Was it over 4 years back?

The SOL on written contract [which includes HOA fees] is 6 years not 4.  

GA has some of the nations most draconian laws that literally give the HOA all the rights and place consumers in great peril of losing their homes.  The OP is well advised to settle this or this HOA will push foreclosure over those fees.  It happens ALL  the time in GA.

15 hours ago, irismagnolia said:

I live in GA and am being sued by my homeowner's association for unpaid dues in the amount of $3800 which includes court costs, interest and legal fees.  I was laid off for 3 1/2 years which caused me to get behind.  My court date is at the end of this month.

I actually owe $2958 and am willing to try to work out arrangements to pay the $2958 before the court date to avoid going to court.  I was wondering if I should contact the attorney's office and offer to make a payment (I could give them at least $1500 now) and see if they'd be willing to settle the debt for the $2958 (I could give them the rest over the next 30 days), what exactly should I say when I call, and if they agree, what should I have them provide me with to show that we worked out a settlement arrangement, and when I make my last payment what I should have them submit to me or any other parties to show that I paid the debt?

If this is that odious law firm Lazega and Johanson do NOT screw around with them.  They are as ugly and dangerous as Fred Hanna and his ilk.  This firm specializes in suing senior citizens and seizing their homes.  They branched out into debt collection when the economy tanked in 2008.   The best thing to do is make a settlement offer in WRITING to them.  DO NOT pay them one red cent until you get a signed settlement agreement from the HOA and their attorney.  Settlement offers are not admissible in court so those discussions cannot be used at trial.  However, unlike a junk debt buyer lawsuit the HOA is going to have the paperwork to prove their case and once they have a judgment if you don't pay it within the time period specified in your CCRs [which could be as short as 14-30 days] they can foreclose on the property.   You DO NOT want that to happen.  My recommendation is you settle before getting into court.

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I also agree with settling, however just be aware that if you can't make a single lump payment for an agreed upon amount, they may not be willing to reduce the final amount much.  They will likely agree to payments that you can afford, but they will probably want a stipulated judgement.  That would mean if you miss or are late with a single payment as agreed, they would be able to take the agreement to court and enforce a judgement against you without having to serve you or have a hearing.  Just understand this before you get into negotiations.

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5 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

The SOL on written contract [which includes HOA fees] is 6 years not 4.  

 

The Nolo article mentioned the four years SOL based on Ga. Code Ann. § 44-3-109(c), 44-3-232(c). It also seems to be 4 years based on this discussion (written contract is also mentioned) between attorneys covering O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-29(b).

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/if-ga--statute-of-limit-for-collection-of-hoa-dues-1976812.html

I'm not sure but it looks like from that discussion if these fees have been building for over 4 years, the limit would cut off anything calculated past that point.

 

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2 hours ago, CCRP626 said:

The Nolo article mentioned the four years SOL based on Ga. Code Ann. § 44-3-109(c), 44-3-232(c). It also seems to be 4 years based on this discussion (written contract is also mentioned) between attorneys covering O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-29(b).

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/if-ga--statute-of-limit-for-collection-of-hoa-dues-1976812.html

I'm not sure but it looks like from that discussion if these fees have been building for over 4 years, the limit would cut off anything calculated past that point.

No.  The association cannot foreclose unless the fees owed are $2000 or more.  What they can and DO get is a lien on the home.  When the fees are in excess of $2000 once they get a judgment they can foreclose if it is not satisfied.  In the link you posted the consumer stated the SOL is 4 years and the attorney merely said that if that was the case then any INTEREST over 4 years could not be collected.  What has a 4 year SOL is ENFORCING the lien:

Statute of Limitations

The HOA or COA must initiate an action to enforce the lien within four years after the assessment becomes due otherwise the lien will lapse and not be effective. (Ga. Code Ann. § 44-3-109(c), 44-3-232(c)). (This is called the statute of limitations.)

Make NO mistake about it.  The SOL to sue the home owner and get the lien on the property is 6 years under GA written contract law.  Once the HOA has the judgment and places a lien on the home if they want to collect THEN they have 4 years to exercise their right to force the home into foreclosure or the lien lapses.  Also, much depends on how the CCRs are written.  As I said before many of these are very draconian giving the HOA lots of rights and the home owner very few.  GA has a fast tract process for foreclosure that can be done in as little as 3 weeks to 30 days.  The OP cannot under estimate this process and unless they want to take a major risk that they lose their home then settling this is the best option.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the replies.  Another question?  Should I hire a lawyer and have them  contact the HOA's  law firm (causing me to be out of even more money) to make sure all of the I's are dotted and Ts are crossed, or should I contact the HOA's attorney on my own  and attempt to negotiate?  

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6 hours ago, irismagnolia said:

Thanks for the replies.  Another question?  Should I hire a lawyer and have them  contact the HOA's  law firm (causing me to be out of even more money) to make sure all of the I's are dotted and Ts are crossed, or should I contact the HOA's attorney on my own  and attempt to negotiate?  

 

I would at least go to www.consumeradvocates.org and do a free consult with a lawyer before approaching the HOA attorney.  Most will do an initial consult for free and probably over the phone.  You can do it yourself but speak to a lawyer and find out what the cost would be.  Some will do a flat rate fee that is quite affordable to draw up a settlement agreement you can present to the HOA lawyer.

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So, I've left two messages for the attorney saying that I was calling to discuss settling out of court and she has not returned my calls.  On yesterday, I sent via certified mail a letter and proposed settlement agreement which she should get by this Friday.  We're due to go to court on next Wednesday.  If she doesn't call me back by Friday, at that point, should I contact the HOA directly and let them know I'm trying to work out a settlement but their lawyer has been non-responsive?  

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