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Can I go to jail for not paying HOA dues + attorneys fees and late fees? I started a payment plan 1 year ago and have paid

Annapolis, MD |

$1500. Beginning balance was $3500.00. Now it is over $6,000. (most of it attorneys and late fees). I am a 64 yr old woman and barely pay my bills. Can I go to jail or what will happen if I don't pay?
I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011. I lost my home and rent an apartment.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. No, you can't go to jail. Call them and tell them your situation. Do they have a judgment against you? If yes, the worst they can do is (1) garnish your wages if they know where you work (2) garnish your bank account if you have one (3) put a lien on your house.

    Ok, so if you don't work you're good on the wage garnishment. If you have no bank account, you're good there too. If you have a bank account, is it joint? If yes, they can't touch it. Do you own property? If yes, a lien can be placed on the home, but it will only effect you if you're going to sell it. When you sell it they will get whatever they are owed. Can you make monthly payments on it? Do you feel you owe this money? I say give them a call and beg them to stop charging you interest, I do that all the time for people.

  2. Why are you paying HOA fees when you lost the home to foreclosure and now rent an apartment? When were the fees accrued? Before your bankruptcy? In part? No, you cannot go to jail, ever, for not paying a debt. Did they suggest you could? That type of threat will give you a right to claim civil damages against them under both federal and state law. Call me if you like, and I may be able to help.

  3. Not only can you not go to jail, but If you still have your by-laws, read them. Some by-laws specifically state that you are no longer responsible for the payment of dues following an involuntary transfer (foreclosure). When you find that language, you can, be an educated consumer, call and point that out. In addition, and assuming that this is correct, and if they are continuing to try and collect, from you, knowing that the debt is no longer due, this may be another cause of action for you. However, if the facts are such that you do still owe, for whatever reason, generally, the association is simply looking for a payment plan and a call from you may help. Particularly if you are "judgment proof", meaning that you have no real assets available for the creditor to attach. For example, If you are retired, then you would have no wages to attach and the money that would be deposited into any bank account would be more than likely protected income (I assume that you have no other financial accounts or assets). Further and of course, with no home (or other real property), there is no real property to attach either. Under these circumstances, they would recognize that the only way to get paid is by working with you and this would give them more incentive to engage in productive negotiations. On another note, if it is discovered that you haven't owed dues since 2011 and under the right circumstances, you can wait a little while longer, pass the statute of limitations period, and eliminate their ability to collect anything at all. I end by saying that there remains a lot of unknown information, regarding your situation which prevents me from providing a real solid answer. More importantly, during any communication, with them, whether it be over the phone or in writing, NEVER ADMIT TO OWING THE DEBT. You can state that you dispute the debt but are willing to try and resolve the matter. Good luck to you!

    The information provided is based upon limited information and is not intended to be final advice.

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