I have always been current on my dues to my HOA, but was slapped with several fines almost 4 years ago. When I contacted them, I was ignored. When I finally spoke with someone, they said it was too late to do anything about it. Over the years, the amount due has gone up and down with no explanation. I have received bullying letters saying they could foreclose on my house and blaming me for the HOA being unable to meet their financial obligations. Can they base their budget on fines for drummed up violations? They have now put a lien on my house and cut off my access to the amenities for the last 3 years. They even add on an additional $25 per year to disconnect my pass card. A $150 fine is now up to almost $900 with no explanation. I have asked for an itemized statement but am ignored.
Violation fines are a reasonable tool of HOAs to enforce covenants, but only if they are used properly. If the HOA is using them as a significant planned revenue source to minimize general assessments, they may be questionable. That being said, there is no way to determine whether your fines fall within the reasonable category or whether the HOA followed their own rules in levying the fines against you. One would have to read through the covenants, review the enforcement notices, and review your ledger to determine you legal position. If you have written and requested an itemization of the debt and received nothing, there may be debt collection violations by whomever is sending you the notices. A problem you may face, however, is the HOA may take the position that you have already paid the fines because they applied your regular payments to the oldest debt first, and thusit is current fees that are owed.
If you haven't gotten anywhere so far, you may need to decide whether it is less expensive to pay the $900, even if it is improper, or hire an attorney to advise you on your situation. An experienced HOA attorney can probably review your documents and documentation in an hour and give you a quick evaluation of your options, but you have to decide if it is worth the hassle. Unfortunately, some HOAs take advantage of the hassle factor even if they don't have a clear legal right to the fines. and related charges. It is up to you whether it is worth it to challenge them.
By the way, the statute of limitations on HOA assessments or fines is four years, so that is not likely to come into play in your situation.
This answer is for general purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.
You could sue them, possibly for the charges, though it's happened a while back and I don't know the statute of limitations for such things in Georgia. You have to decide whether all this is worth $900, eventually there is a fairly good chance you are going to have to pay it anyway.
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