Neighbors Kick Family Out Of Home

NEW PORT RICHEY - Tired of the nagging letters from your neighborhood homeowners association, the threats of liens on your home?

Before you ignore the association, consider the fate of Gregory Green.

More than three years ago, Green's body seemed to be falling apart. Overweight, he suffered two blood clots in his lung, then he needed surgery for a back injury, then he was diagnosed with diabetes. On his doctor's advice, he left his job at an Alzheimer's care center in Tampa and began collecting disability benefits, which were about half his previous salary and put a strain on his family's finances, Green says.

By 2005, the family of five had fallen behind on dues to the homeowners association of The Glen at River Ridge, which represents about 150 homes in a west Pasco County subdivision. The result: In September, the homeowners association foreclosed on the house for owing $580.

"These are neighbors," Green said of the board of directors of the homeowners association. "Neighbors are supposed to be compassionate."

The Greens' story isn't the norm for association disputes, but foreclosures that end with the sale of a debtor's home have become surprisingly common in the Bay area and throughout Florida, according to two lawyers who represent hundreds of homeowners and condo associations between them, Bob Tankel of Dunedin and Ron Cotterill of Tampa. Tankel estimates such cases have increased tenfold in the past four years, based on his firm's caseload.

In many situations, homeowners are losing their properties over a few hundred dollars in delinquent homeowners assessments.

What's more, Tankel said he's advising his homeowners association clients to foreclose quickly, before the lender does. A homeowners association lien is inferior to a claim brought by a lender holding the mortgage, Tankel said. So if a bank files first, the association may not be able to collect the back dues.

"We're always in a race to the courthouse steps," Tankel said.

Link