There’s no question that Florida Homeowner Associations have suffered in the housing downturn. There’s no question it has impacted just about everyone. But some HOAs have found ways to take the most outrageous actions against a few homeowners to siphon off money and ownership rights of the few to help pay the expenses of the majority. Welcome to the kind of “democracy” practiced by the Bridgewater Community Association in Wesley Chapel, Florida.
Joanne McCarn says she missed an annual dues payment of $225 when her mother died. She was willing to make that up, but then she discovered the amount the HOA wanted was more than ten times the amount owed. She balked. She moved out, and put in a tenant to help make the mortgage payments.
The Bridgewater HOA told her she had to pay a $500 fee to the HOA before they would give her permission to rent. But the dispute escalated. The HOA didn’t foreclose on the home, but it evicted McCarn’s tenant and then moved in a tenant of their choice.
McCarn says it’s impossibly wrong. The HOA doesn’t own the house, McCarn does. But without going to court the HOA has essentially seized the home. They’ve appropriated the income stream from their replacement tenant. And they’ve done the same kind of thing to six other homeowners at Bridgewater.
Even lawyers who customarily support HOA actions against homeowners who get behind on their dues, says this kind of action is without precedent and is not something the law allows.
Perhaps so. But as growing numbers of these stories emerge, it builds the feeling among many people that the basic structure of the American HOA is fundamentally corrupt and totally outside the U.S. Constitution. They’re beyong the law.