TX: Single mom threatened with HOA foreclosure for removing a tree

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

 

A Texas mother of 4, and widow of an Afghanistan Veteran, has been threatened with foreclosure by Stewart Peninsula HOA in Colony, Texas. According to a report from CBSDFW.com, for the past year, Leticia Acevas has been fined $75 per month – a total of more than $5000 with attorney fees – for removing a large tree from her front yard.

The tree was removed in 2011, the year her husband lost his life while serving in the military stationed in Afghanistan. Acevas says the tree was very large, and blocked views from security cameras she installed shortly after her husband’s untimely passing. Four years passed before her HOA decided to fine Acevas in 2015. Her yard does have other trees, but the attorney for Stewart Peninsula HOA insists that the homeowner must plant another tree and a shrub in order to comply with architectural standards.

However, raising 4 children on her own, Acevas is unable to pay steep fines and pay for a new tree to satisfy the HOA.

 

Widow Of Veteran Facing Foreclosure From HOA
September 30, 2016 10:10 PM By Cristin Severance

THE COLONY (CBSDFW.COM) – Leticia Acevas and her four young children have only memories left of the most important person in their lives.

So, when they started rebuilding their lives after Staff Sergeant Omar Acevas died in Afghanistan, in 2011, they felt normal again. “(We were) trying to help to start again.” Acevas told CBS 11 news tearfully. “It’s just me my kids and that’s the way it’s always been.”

But now they’re almost about to lose their home. “I just feel like I’m disappointing them,” Acevas told us.

She received a notice in the mail saying her home in The Colony could be foreclosed on, if she doesn’t pay her HOA fines for the missing tree in her yard.

Read more, watch video here.

 

The pubic exposure provided by CBSDFW has stopped the foreclosure process, at least for now. Hopefully, the HOA will work with Acevas to resolve the issue and prevent foreclosure of her home over a few thousand dollars.

The question is, will the HOA continue to target the single mother with additional violations?

And will the HOA continue to defy or ignore Texas laws designed to prevent this kind of abuse? After all, most HOAs know that a homeowner’s sole defense is to hire an attorney and file a legal complaint. But that costs thousands of dollars, a price many homeowners cannot afford.

 

About Stewart Peninsula HOA

Stewart Peninsula is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and is home to a golf course. The community is currently managed by Texas Star Community Management LLC, a member of Community Associations Institute Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter.

According to the Stewart Peninsula HOA website, assessments cover the following services:

The homeowners association provides for the maintenance of common areas and facilities through collection of dues. Texas Star Community Management is responsible for hiring and overseeing the maintenance contractors.

Your HOA dues pay for:

Landscape of common areas (mowing, edging, fertilizing and pruning)
Seasonal flowers
Irrigation repairs and maintenance
Pool Maintenance
Common area electricity and water
Directors and Officers Insurance
Texas Commercial Property Insurance
Social Events & Association Meetings
Newsletters/Website/Directory
Administrative Costs
Accounting Functions
Annual Audit

 

Some HOAs have responsibility for essential services such as road or storm water system maintenance, or providing water and sanitary sewer utilities. But as evidenced by the list above, Stewart Peninsula HOA is responsible for non-essential services. That makes the HOA’s foreclosure authority even more excessive. Why should anyone potentially lose their home over assessments to support shared recreational amenities, flowers by the entry monument, and insurance protection for HOA board members who selectively enforce rules?

 


2 thoughts on “TX: Single mom threatened with HOA foreclosure for removing a tree

  1. The Texas Property Owners’ Protection Act Chapter 209 does not allow an HOA to foreclose on a property when the amount owed is only for fines assessed for violations.

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    1. Darlene,

      Here are the applicable statutes:

      PROPERTY CODE

      TITLE 11. RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS

      CHAPTER 209. TEXAS RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY OWNERS PROTECTION ACT

      Sec. 209.001. SHORT TITLE. This chapter may be cited as the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act.

      Sec. 209.009. FORECLOSURE SALE PROHIBITED IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. A property owners’ association may not foreclose a property owners’ association’s assessment lien if the debt securing the lien consists solely of:
      (1) fines assessed by the association;
      (2) attorney’s fees incurred by the association solely associated with fines assessed by the association; or
      (3) amounts added to the owner’s account as an assessment under Section 209.005(i) or 209.0057(b-4).


      Sec. 209.0063. PRIORITY OF PAYMENTS. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a payment received by a property owners’ association from the owner shall be applied to the owner’s debt in the following order of priority:
      (1) any delinquent assessment;
      (2) any current assessment;
      (3) any attorney’s fees or third party collection costs incurred by the association associated solely with assessments or any other charge that could provide the basis for foreclosure;
      (4) any attorney’s fees incurred by the association that are not subject to Subdivision (3);
      (5) any fines assessed by the association; and
      (6) any other amount owed to the association.
      (b) If, at the time the property owners’ association receives a payment from a property owner, the owner is in default under a payment plan entered into with the association:
      (1) the association is not required to apply the payment in the order of priority specified by Subsection (a); and
      (2) in applying the payment, a fine assessed by the association may not be given priority over any other amount owed to the association.
      Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1282 (H.B. 1228), Sec. 2, eff. January 1, 2012.

      However, it’s amazing how creative some HOA’s can be when it comes to holding and posting assessment payments a wee bit late, activating the loophole in the law — at that point, even if the owner is $1 behind in assessments, the HOA can ignore the priority of payment provisions and apply the next payment to the fine first. Or some HOAs simply defy the law and dare you to sue them. After all, very few people can afford to challenge their HOA in court or pay attorneys thousands of dollars up front, with little chance of successful outcome.

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