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I am being told to sign a formal payment plan arrangement which includes a confession of judgment by my HOA. What is that?

Kent, WA |

I had a difficult time getting any information from my HOA regarding how/where to make my HOA payments but was finally able to figure it out four months after moving into my condo. My HOA management company agreed to let me pay my regular dues plus an additional amount of $150 per month which I started doing at the end of August 2013. I made my last payment of the extra $150 at the end of last month and am now caught up. The HOA contacted an attorney AFTER agreeing to let me make the extra payments and now I am expected to sign a payment arrangement (remember I am caught up now) and sign a confession of judgment. What is a confession of judgment? The word lien has also been used. I am caught up on my HOA dues. Can they foreclose on me? Can I lose my home?

I do not owe my HOA any additional dues. All I need to pay now are my regular dues which I am doing, but now I owe a few thousand dollars to my HOA's attorneys? Can anyone, the HOA or the attorneys, take my home from me? I am so happy to finally own my own home. I tried so hard to work with the HOA to be able to find out who and how to pay my dues. It does not seem fair that they can tell me one thing then without notice contact an attorney. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. I should specify that it is my HOA's attorneys who are telling me to sign the confession of judgment and payment plan.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

It sounds like attorney fees were incurred during the initial period of confusion after you bought the condo. Unfortunately is is almost always the duty of the purchaser to determine how to pay the HOA, and this is why payment details and the HOA's address are usually provided at closing. Confessions of judgment can vary state to state but will allow a judgment to be entered against you without notice to you. Don't sign them unless specifically advised to do so by an attorney since you won't know what the judgment against you will be. There may be a lien for the attorney fees but if the firm ran up expenses while the HOA allowed you to pay, you may have an equitable argument against having to pay legal fees. See if you can get a free consultation just so you can be aware of your rights and options. Worst case scenario, if the lien is valid, yes, they could foreclose.

I hope that this answer helps you in a general sense, but it does not constitute legal advice, nor tax advice of any kind, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and myself or my firm.

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Asker

Posted

Can the attorney put a lien on my property? I don't understand how the HOA can because I don't owe them anything expect my regular monthly dues which I am paying on time. I did not receive anything at closing. Everything went through my realtor as I paid cash for my condo and did not go through a bank. I will look into getting a free consultation. Thank you.

Gregory John Barry

Gregory John Barry

Posted

If the attorney fees were incurred to compel you to pay or to assess the HOA's options relative to your delinquency, they are probably a valid charge against your property. The lien would be in favor of the HOA, not the law firm, and only the HOA would have the authority to authorize the recording of the lien. Did you actually not receive anything at closing -- no deed, no title policy, no survey? Even in a cash deal you should have received those and more. Title work should have disclosed the existence of an HOA and the duty to pay assessments. There may have been an oversight on someone's part but unfortunately the legal responsibility falls on you as the owner to search the property records to determine exactly what you're buying, and to investigate the method of assessment payments ahead of time. Glad to hear that you're looking into getting an attorney to help you with this.

Asker

Posted

I did receive paperwork but nothing nothing was explained to me. I did see a copy of the HOA booklet but was counting on my conversations with the property management to help me figure out how to pay my HOA dues. It was just odd that they waited until after I started making payments including past due payments before contacting an attorney. I don't understand the necessity of that.

Asker

Posted

The way they handled feels punitive to me.

Gregory John Barry

Gregory John Barry

Posted

It does seem strange, I agree. Not very neighborly. Until you sit down with an attorney, you may not want to pay or sign anything, given this history.

Asker

Posted

I met with an attorney today. I feel much better now that she is on board. Thank you for all your help.

Posted

Nearly all states have laws that allow for a lien to attach to real estate for past due HOA payments and other assessments that can include attorney's fees ;sometimes automatically when they become past due.They are called "statutory liens".Sometimes the HOA files them as well with the deed recorder as notice to other creditors that they are first in line.It's to basically insure collectability since the HOA depends on them to function.They are hard to discharge in bankruptcy for example.As for foreclosure,I agree with other counsel that this is possible.There are different ways to accomplish this under different laws but the HOA would probably reserve that right untl there was a substantial arrearage because of the costs involved.You should get a consult to advise you of the particulars and what the confession of judgment provision entails specifically.

This answer does not create an attorney/client relationship and is for informational purposes only.For further information please schedule a consultation with an attorney of your choice in your area or at my offices at the location on my Avvo profile

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Asker

Posted

Thank you very much.

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