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Subject: Uninhabitable/abandoned houses
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Author Messages
CathyM10
(Missouri)

Posts:6


07/16/2020 3:01 PM  
I am Secretary in a relatively small (160 members)HOA. It is located in MO down by the lakes (Truman and Ozarks). We are located just outside the city limits.There are no building codes in the county. We have 3 homes that are in disrepair and nearly falling down. Clearly abandoned and accessible to pests, domestic pets, drug users, etc. I contacted the local health dept. but they told me they could not deem the homes condemned. We have added to our bylaws that with sufficient warning, the association will take action and bill the owner. But legally we prefer to have documentation that the houses are condemned by a public entity. Had anyone else dealt with this? These owners are delinquint on their dues and fees. They just don't care.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16852


07/16/2020 3:46 PM  
Posted By CathyM10 on 07/16/2020 3:01 PM

We have added to our bylaws that with sufficient warning, the association will take action and bill the owner.




This would be in the wrong document.
This needs to be in the covenants, as covenants address private property.

Bylaws address the running of the Association (elections, procedures, officers, etc.).



I will also add one thing our attorney told us:

DO NOT enter private property without a court order unless there is an emergency.
Otherwise, you and your contractors can be subject to criminal trespassing.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1128


07/16/2020 3:52 PM  
You may need to get legal advice from an attorney who is knowledgeable about HOA law so that you are aware of all your options.

Some things to think about:

* At what point is a property deemed to be "abandoned"?

* Are the owners continuing to pay property taxes, or has the county filed a lien for non-payment? Sometimes a county may sell tax liens to investors, which can get a little messy from the HOA's standpoint, so you need to find out more before this happens. It will also help indicate whether the homes are truly abandoned?

* What is the land worth if the home were condemned?

* What are your options for taking legal action against the owner: foreclosure, small claims court, etc.? What are the costs associated with each? How likely is it that any of these would be effective, or would you be throwing good money after bad?

* Do your governing documents, or state HOA law, give the association the right to carry out stop gap maintenance, how much would it cost, and would it be worth it?

I'll think some more about this...

CathyM10
(Missouri)

Posts:6


07/16/2020 4:07 PM  
Thanks to everyone responding so far. I meet with a lawyer on Tues. Some of my same questions.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9451


07/16/2020 4:58 PM  
Need to set up a policy about liening and foreclosing. Meaning at what point do you lien for non-payment or foreclose? We had 6 months we liened. 1 year we considered foreclosure. Foreclosure is ONLY a "stop the bleeding" step. It is NOT profitable.

So may want to start the process of a lien. Make sure they are not also behind in mortgage payments. This factors in with deciding to foreclose or not. If they are, then just keep the lien. No use in doing the work of the bank.

As for repairs, some HOA's are able to enter a property and perform the repairs. They then can send the bill to the owner to pay. If the owner does not pay, then that can be a lien on the property. Keep in mind there are a LOT of issues in doing this and NOT applicable in every situation. However, it is an option you may want to discuss with the lawyer.

Has the HOA approved you talking to the lawyer? Who is paying for it? It's best to make sure talking to a lawyer on the HOA's dime is approved prior to doing it. It's not a good idea to have multiple board members talking to the lawyer. Should be limited to 1 appointee to do so.

Former HOA President
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3370


07/16/2020 5:05 PM  
Did the city provide details as to why it won't condemn the houses? It may be the house isn't bad enough to condemn. For instance overgrown grass isn't good because that can attract rats and other vermin, but if the house is secured enough that the roof isn't leaking or gaping holes, there may not be anything that can be done.

At this point, the best you may be able to do is pursue your association's remedies. If you know where the owners are, you can threaten to sue, but brace yourself for taking a financial hit. Usually, homes like this mean the owners aren't paying the mortgage either you already know they're beginning assessments and may have simply walked away from everything). If you don't get reimbursed for fixing the place and decide to foreclose, the bank is first to receive any money. You'd better hope there are no back property taxes because the city or county will get its money before anyone. in the end there may not be anything left to collect.

If you haven't done so already, have a chat with the association attorney to see what options you have
CathyM10
(Missouri)

Posts:6


07/16/2020 5:43 PM  
Thank you. I have been directed to meet with our HOA lawyer. We live in a country like area and in our particular county there are no building codes which makes this so difficult. I'm exploring state laws.
CathyM10
(Missouri)

Posts:6


07/16/2020 6:20 PM  
Thank you. I have been directed to meet with our HOA lawyer. We live in a country like area and in our particular county there are no building codes which makes this so difficult. I'm exploring state laws.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1530


07/16/2020 9:07 PM  
Cathy,

Not having county building codes will slow you so you're looking a habitation laws for these houses whereas they constitute a nuisance or health hazard if these homes are located in a true neighborhood of close proximity houses.

From experience, this process could take you 5 or more years of "stop and go" action. The local government will not want to demolish the properties at taxpayer expense or, if there is a housing officer, they'd likely try to work with the property owners.

Meeting your HOA lawyer is a tremendous first step and this process will end up in county court if you want to fight it since demolition/condemnation is very complex.

Don't get in a hurry.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Uninhabitable/abandoned houses



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