By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
This is a REPOST of blog originally published December 11, 2016.
Readers have been contacting me about this outrageous HOA horror story from Gwinnett County, Georgia.
How can Chandler Grove HOA fine, lien, and threaten to foreclose on the home of a wounded Veteran, recipient of a Purple Heart, father of two children, over such petty offenses?
The answer is because Georgia law enables this injustice. Here are the relevant excerpts from GA Code 44-3-232: (emphasis added in bold and underline.)
44-3-232 Assessments against lot owners as constituting lien in favor of
association; additional charges against lot owners; procedure for foreclosing
lien; obligation to provide statement of amounts due.
(a) All sums lawfully assessed by the association against any lot owner or
property owners’ association lot, whether for the share of the common expenses
pertaining to that lot, fines, or otherwise, and all reasonable charges made to
any lot owner or lot for materials furnished or services rendered by the
association at the owner’s request to or on behalf of the lot owner or lot,
shall, from the time the sums became due and payable, be the personal
obligation of the lot owner and constitute a lien in favor of the association
The recording of the declaration pursuant to this article shall constitute
record notice of the existence of the lien, and no further recordation of any
claim of lien for assessments shall be required.
(b) To the extent that the instrument provides, the personal obligation of
the lot owner and the lien for assessments shall also include:
(1) A late or delinquency charge not in excess of the greater of $10.00 or
10 percent of the amount of each assessment or installment thereof not paid
(2) At a rate not in excess of 10 percent per annum, interest on each
assessment or installment thereof and any delinquency or late charge
pertaining thereto from the date the same was first due and payable;
(3) The costs of collection, including court costs, the expenses required
for the protection and preservation of the lot, and reasonable attorney’s
fees actually incurred; and
(4) The fair rental value of the lot from the time of the institution of an
action until the sale of the lot at foreclosure or until judgment rendered in
the action is otherwise satisfied.
(c) Not less than ten days after notice is sent by certified mail or
statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, to the lot owner both
at the address of the lot and at any other address or addresses which the lot
owner may have designated to the association in writing, the lien may be
foreclosed by the association by an action, judgment, and foreclosure in the
same manner as other liens for the improvement of real property. The notice
shall specify the amount of the assessments then due and payable together with
authorized late charges and interest accrued thereon. Unless prohibited by the
instrument, the association shall have the power to bid on the lot at any
foreclosure sale and to acquire, hold, lease, encumber, and convey the same.
Public records verify a lien has been filed on the property as of September. So, as the reader can see, Retired Sergeant Daniel Lister is at imminent risk for losing his home to HOA foreclosure.
The home has no mortgage, as it was offered as a gift by the Military Warriors Support Foundation. Public records verify that property taxes are current and paid in full.
The bottom line is that the lien on his home arises from multiple fines, plus attorney fees and other collection costs, and even the rental value of the property from the time the lien was filed. And those fines were levied, according to Lister and Fox5 Atlanta, for keeping his trash can in the “wrong” location, and not sufficiently edging his lawn. The HOA has apparently provided no accommodation for Lister’s disability.
If you’re outraged by this HOA horror story, please share it among your social networks, especially any contacts you may have that could offer legal assistance or local support for Lister and his family.
The original post appears below:
Wounded Veteran faces HOA fines, lien over placement of trash can
In 2012, Retired Sergeant Daniel Lister, his wife, and two children were thrilled to be the recipients of their 2-story brick home in Chandler Grove Homeowners Association, Gwinnett County, Georgia. The home had been donated by the Military Warriors Support Foundation and Bank of America.
Four years later, Lister finds himself embroiled in a battle with his HOA over where he kept his trash can when, as an amputee, he was only able to get around with the use of his wheelchair. A stack of violation letters from his HOA also cite violations about his fence and edging of his lawn.
But when you watch the video below, you won’t see anything unsightly in Lister’s yard. Whatever issues might have existed at the time, it appears the homeowner has addressed them. Lister explains that, at the time of the violation letters, he was recently discharged from the Army, and recovering from his injuries and PTSD. He was also a first-time homeowner raising two daughters. A few maintenance tasks fell through the cracks. The trash can had to be placed where he could access it easily from his wheelchair.
Now, as reported by Fox5 Atlanta, Lister faces liens on his home, placing Lister at risk for foreclosure by Chandler Grove HOA.
Disabled, decorated Army veteran battles HOA (Fox5 Atlanta)
POSTED:DEC 09 2016 08:57PM EST
UPDATED:DEC 09 2016 08:57PM EST
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. – A wounded war veteran said he is facing serious fines from his Gwinnett County neighborhood’s home owner association.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Lister did four tours of duty: first in Iraq, then Afghanistan, but he is now in a big fight with his homeowners association after they put a lien on his property. His days of fighting aren’t over yet. He said the HOA forced him to pay thousands of dollars for not keeping his house up to regulations.
Read more, see VIDEO:
I was curious about Chandler Grove HOA’s regulations, so I looked them up on their website.
Here are the trash can guidelines.
I’ll let the reader decide if these guidelines seem reasonable or a bit over the top.
As for my opinion, let’s just say that I would not consider lawn chairs, tables, and patio furniture as “debris,” even if they are placed on the front lawn. And, personally, I don’t see the requirement that trash cans be placed on the curb after dusk to be reasonable, especially if a homeowner happens to have poor night vision or some other type of disability.
This is one picky HOA. And this story should highlight the importance of any home buyer – or tenant – reviewing these rules, regulations, and guidelines prior to moving in. If if means you walk away from the deal or a lease, so be it.
But, in this case, Lister was gifted the home. So I doubt there was a full disclosure that included a review of HOA governing documents prior to handing him the keys to the house.
But, of course, the additional risk of buying into an HOA is that those rules can and do change after you close on the sale and move in. And, like it or not, you’re obligated to follow the new rules or face the consequences, which could include fines or other penalties issued by your HOA, up to and including having a lien filed on your property and even losing your home to foreclosure by the HOA.
Now, in Lister’s case, I suspect there’s a potential Fair Housing issue at stake, whereby the HOA ought to be making a reasonable accommodation with regard to placement of the trash can. That’s a whole other legal battle that could take years to fight.
And for what? If you have watched the video, can you see anything at all dangerous, disturbing, or offensive about Lister’s property? Is there anything to justify thousands of dollars in fines or the threat of losing his home?
I just don’t see it. And I have to wonder what’s really behind the HOA’s decisions and actions.
So now Retired Army Veteran finds himself, once again, fighting for freedom. But this time, that fight is on his own home turf.