and Video Courtesy of WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft.Worth
May 27, 2011
ROCKWALL - Homeowners down on their luck and behind
in their homeowners association dues continue to be threatened with
foreclosure, which is legal in Texas.
While state lawmakers debate proposed reforms in the law, one local state
senator with HOA-industry ties says he thinks some laws should stay just
as they are.
|There are more than 200
well kept homes and four manicured entrances at the Timber
Creek Estates in Rockwall. But, beneath the veneer, an
undercurrent of resentment can be found among the many who
in hard economic times have fallen behind on their
$300-a-year HOA dues.
Neighborhood activist Amy McCorkle keeps tabs by searching
courthouse records to see which of her neighbors have had a
lien placed against their home for delinquent HOA dues.
"On April 13, 2010, they filed liens," McCorkle
said as she scanned the county's computer records.
"Seven on that one day."
most cases, the property management company hired to handle the HOA
business will tack on late fees, handling fees and attorney fees, putting
homeowners hundreds and even thousands of dollars in debt.
|"I missed my
homeowners association payment and within one year it went
from me owning $300 to $1,300," said homeowner Nathan
Another homeowner, Chris Heinen, admitted he fell behind
on his dues. He said his disability keeps him unemployed,
but the fees and penalties levied by the HOA's management
company, Principal Management Group, keeps him in debt.
"How can you expect someone to get caught up,
know?" he said. "It's like climbing up a sand hill. You just
keep going right back down with the sand every step you take."
Chief among the reforms being proposed this session in Austin is a measure
that would stop HOAs from forcing delinquent homeowners to repay late
fees, handling fees and attorney's fees before paying their association
referred to as "priority of payment."
Among the defenders of the current system is Sen. John
Carona, of Dallas. Carona is not only the author of many
of the current HOA laws in Texas, some say he benefits
most from it.
Carona owns Associa, the nations largest property
management company and the parent company of Principal
Management Group, which manages Timber Creek Estates.
A Principal Management collection schedule obtained by
News 8 spells out Carona's policies of
fees, the filing of a lien if you are three months past due and the filing
of home foreclosure after four months.
according to Carona's company's payment policy, the last priority of
payment, number six on the list, is to be a homeowner's "regular
assessments." First on the list to be paid, attorney's fees.
WFAA asked, Carona denied that was his policy. He then
abruptly ended the interview as WFAA attempted to show him
a copy of his own policy. Carona then bolted out of the
interview room and back onto the Senate floor.
When WFAA tried to follow him, Carona ordered the sergeant
of arms to have us removed from the chamber. Before he
ended the interview, Carona said people make a conscious
decision to join an HOA and should be expected to abide by
the rules and regulations.
Carona also said the decision to file liens and
is made by each HOA board and not by his management company.