Estrella Bryant was trying hard to keep up with her mortgage payments on her home in San Francisco, California. Like many other struggling homeowners, she thought she could delay a dues payment to her Homeowners Association. Wrong choice. She was unprepared for the nightmare that followed.
The Parkview Heights Homeowners Association told her she owed $560 in dues. The case was turned over to a collection agency, which then tacked on its own fees and attorney’s fees.
The nightmare grew. Bryant said her big mistake was thinking that an HOA was there to help its member homeowners, the exact opposite of what the typical HOA does.
The HOA’s collection firm said it would be glad to arrange a payment plan, as long as she signed an agreement to pay the collection agency’s fee first. (By the way, it’s absolutely illegal in California for collection agencies to make debtors sign such agreements!)
As soon as Bryant signed the agreement she saw the collection fees, the attorney’s fees, HOA dues and interest continue to rise.
Bryant was one of the fortunate few who found an attorney who would take the case pro bono to save her home.
Anyone in California who finds themselves in a similar situation should contact CalHomeLaw.org. The organization has waged a vigorous fight against illegal practices by Homeowner Associations and collection agencies. They also have excellent material on how Homeowners can use Small Claims Court against out-of-control HOAs.