Many of the nicest residential communities in Texas are governed, in part, by a homeowners association (HOA). This body regulates and oversees the community, often to a significant extent. Those who buy into an HOA community recognize that they will have different obligations than homeowners who buy free-standing properties. In general, HOAs require an additional financial investment beyond mortgage payments and escrow contributions each month.
Each homeowner may contribute hundreds of dollars toward community amenities and upkeep, as state law empowers HOAs to assess and collect such charges. Additionally, those that buy a property in an HOA community will be subject to numerous restrictions on the use and development of their property.
Sometimes, homeowners face enforcement attempts by an HOA because they have deviated from the community guidelines or failed to pay certain costs. Both of the challenges detailed below might lead to litigation as homeowners fight back against enforcement efforts initiated by a local HOA.
Reduced amenity access
When someone has become non-compliant with community standards or has fallen behind on their dues and fees to the community, the HOA may initiate legal action to limit that homeowner’s access to different community amenities. From high-speed internet used by all residents to gym facilities and swimming pools, there are many spaces within an HOA community maintained by the HOA for the benefit of the local residents. Property owners may lose access to those spaces during enforcement efforts, which can affect everything from their health to their ability to do part of their work remotely from home. Homeowners no longer able to access community facilities might initiate litigation to fight back and regain their rights.
Collection activity or foreclosure
One of the tools that an HOA has to enforce its fee schedule is the right to assess additional charges to homeowners and to possibly even foreclose on properties when someone falls significantly into arrears regarding community fees or charges for infractions. Homeowners may choose to go to court to fight the financial penalties that the HOA wants to impose due to missed or late payments or perceived issues with the property that may violate local community standards. Particularly in cases where foreclosure and the loss of the property is a possibility, homeowners may require the intervention of the Texas civil courts to protect what they have already invested in their property and to assert their rights as homeowners.
Understanding that going to court can be an option when dealing with a protracted HOA dispute can help property owners defend themselves and the investment that they have made in Texas real estate.