There are many ironies in the country’s HOA quagmire, but the one that really stirred anger among American families was the 2010 confiscation of the home of an Army Reserve Captain named Michael Clauer.
Clauer and his wife, May, lived in the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association in Frisco, Texas. They had two young children, one of them just a toddler. They owned their 300,000 dollar home free and clear, a gift from May’s parents.
But when Michael was transfered to command a unit in the war in Iraq, May Clauer allowed what she thought was junk mail to pile up. Sadly, among the items in the growing stack of mail were the couple’s HOA dues, about 877 dollars, and the threat to foreclose.
One day, when May answered the door, a visitor told her that he now owned the home and that she and her family would have to vacate. It seems that Heritage Lakes HOA had done a non-judicial foreclosure, meaning no judge ever heard a foreclosure case against the Clauer family. The HOA had just reached out, snatched the home, auctioned it for $3500 to an investor who sold it again for $135,000.
Federal law prohibits civil actions against service members who are on active duty overseas. But many Homeowners Associations consider federal law just a minor annoyance.
Michael Clauer says not a single person from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association ever visited his home, despite the fact that board members live just a short distance away.
The Clauer’s finally got their house back after a federal judge ordered all the parties involved to work out a settlement. Details of the settlement are confidential, but it’s hard to imagine that the experience was not extremely costly for the family.
Clauer now lives in Virginia. He says he’ll never again live in a Homeowners Association.
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