Measure Would Limit HOA Attorneys Fees

by Jim Forsyth-
Members of the Texas Legislature are taking aim at a familiar target–Home Owners Associations.

News Radio 1200 WOAI reports State Rep Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) has filed a bill to prevent Home Owners Associations from engaging in a familiar practice…hiring a resident or one of the HOA board’s buddies as their ‘attorney,’ and then tacking huge ‘lawyers fees’ onto the bills of those whom, for whatever reason, have fallen behind on paying their dues.

Gutierrez’ bill is in response to Petty Officer Richard Miller’s lawsuit against the Monte Viejo Homeowners Association.  Miller claims that when he returned from deployment to Japan, where he was helping that nation deal with the devastating earthquake and tsunami, he found among his stack of mail, a notice that the HOA had given him 11 days to vacate his property.

Miller was informed that he had fallen behind on his HOA dues, and in addition to the $900 in back dues he owed, he was also being billed for $15,000 in ‘attorney’s fees.’

“The fact that Mr. Miller lost his home while serving our country overseas is a perfect example of how homeowners associations can take your home, not because you didn’t pay your mortgage or HOA dues, but because they tack on exorbitant and unreasonable attorney fees when they go after you,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez says while the plight of military members grabs the attention of the public and lawmakers, all Texas homeowners who are members of mandatory HOA’s ‘routinely face outrageous attorney fees charged by HOAs.

Gutierrez’ bill would place a ceiling on the collection of attorney feeds in property owners association foreclosures.

HOA’s argue that they serve the worthy goal of maintaining property values, and when some homeowners don’t pay their dues, it places that burden on the backs of responsible homeowners to maintain the neighborhood.

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