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Subject: Lien from 2006
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05/28/2021 8:42 AM  
A little background. In 2005-2006 I was in some financial hotwater dealing with my exwife, since long divorced. I was late on paying my 2006 HOA dues but I recall making the payment in late 2006 or early 2007. Since then all my annual dues have been on time. Since then I paid off my home, in 2017. All my kids are grown and gone and I'm looking at relocating but I need to do $20-$30K of work, mostly inside before I put the home up for sale. My four dogs have done a job on it over the past 15 years.

I started the process to obtain a samll Home Equity Line of Credit and was surprised to discover a Lien from 2006. It appears the HOA put a lien on the property in May 2006. I was not aware of this until a couple of weeks ago.

I recall making that payment in late 2006 or early 2007 to the management company. Since I was not aware of any lien I just sent a check with a note that got me caught up.

Upon discovering the 2006 I reached out to the old management company and to my bank for help. Of course, neither of them keep reocrds(checks) going back 15+ years. I too have no records of checks written in 2006.

After explaining the situation to the managment company I was informed that unless I can produce proof of payment I'm obligated to pay up.

I then discovered that under GA Code 44-3-109(c) and 44-3-232(c) that HOA's must take action to enforce any lien filed within four years after the assessment is due. If not "the lien will lapse and won't be effective." So I'm thinking that the is lien is no longer valid and enforceable. I provided this information to the manangement compaany a few days ago. They have responded that the payment is still due! Any thoughts on this?

Also, the HOA gets monthly printouts of member payments in arrears. I asked that they go back as far in their records as possible to see if my name/property is listed on the reports. It is not. I'm thinking the payment was made but they failed to remove the lien in 2006/7. It was the end of year and I think it was probably an administrative error. Also in 2017 when I paid off the mortagage I would assume the mortage company would have contacted me if there was a valid lien on the property. They did not.
Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.
Dennis G7


05/28/2021 9:01 AM  
Is this a condo or stand-alone home in a GA property owners' association?

GA Code 44-3-109 and 44-3-232 do indeed say the lien lapses yada after four years. I have seen similar in other states. But I am pretty sure the HOA can just turn around and place a new lien.

I see that it would be unusual for a bank to keep records going back more than about five years.

In the HOA's recent billing statements sent to you, do they consistently show an amount owned reflecting what was owed back in 2006?

Can you give a ballpark number for how much money we are talking about here? Would it be small enough that you could pursue this in Georgia small claims yada court?



05/28/2021 11:24 AM  
It could be an error on the part of the HOA. When you say "I asked that they go back as far in their records as possible to see if my name/property is listed on the reports. It is not", do you mean that they showed you copies of the reports and your name wasn't on them, or that they did not have records?

I have a couple of thoughts about what I would do if I were in your shoes:

* I'd think about how much they claim I owe vs. how much time/effort/money I'll have to spend to prove I'm right. If the amounts are pretty close, I'd be tempted to pay what the HOA claims I owe and go on with my life (especially if I'm planning to sell the house).

* On the other hand you could dispute the claim, and send the HOA a demand letter requiring proof that you owe the debt. That's a common first step if anybody tries to bill you for something you don't believe you owe. (And read up on fair debit collection laws.) But disputing is often a first step to prolonged wrangling, so make sure the amount is worth it - see first point. And do read up on fair debt collection laws if you go this route.


05/28/2021 1:17 PM  
Your first step before you do ANYTHING is to send them a letter via certified mail with return recipet asking for your payment history as far as they have on file. Include in your letter asking them to list any late charges and lens and foreclosure notices. In one way you want to catch them with their pants down kinda sorta.

If they have no current record of any liens they hold on your property you hit them with a second certified letter, provide a copy of the lien demanding them to release the lien on your property, give them 30 days.



05/28/2021 6:24 PM  
It's not uncommon for a debt to get paid and no one bothered to remove the lien. The existence of the lien does not prove that the debt is still owed.

Much more important is - Have you ever received a statement? If so, did the statement show that the additional money was still owed?

If the statement you received shows that there's no additional debt owing on your account, then that alone should be sufficient proof that the amount owed was paid. Otherwise, it would still show as owing on your account today.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
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