Grandmother nearly lost home to HOA fees in 'miscommunication'

What started as a missing $41 nearly cost a woman her house in legal fees
January 18, 2014 5:46:19 AM PST
Depending on where you live, homeowners association dues may be on your list of yearly expenses. If you're late, or don't pay them, you could face heavy fines. That's what happened to one local grandmother whose late fees turned into bigger problems. Those HOA fees almost cost this grandmother of 10 her home.

When Sharon Dockery was diagnosed with liver cancer, the late fees on her HOA bill were the least of her worries.

"I had paid my fees, and then they start, they're called chargeback onto my account," said Dockery.

Dockery says she did pay the bill, but didn't realize she was $41 short. So the late fees built up and up.

"They chargeback $8 here, $15 there," said Dockery.

She tells us she didn't understand what the chargeback fees were, because she paid her assessment fee. And when Dockery called the Southwest Crossing Homeowners Association to find out...

"They said they turned it over to the attorney," said Dockery.

Between taking care of her 10 grandchildren at home, and going for chemotherapy treatments, she says she simply couldn't afford the additional late fees. Eventually a judgment was placed on her home. Then last December...

"They said if I didn't pay the $3,700 in 10 days, they were going to foreclose, which was December the 18th," said Dockery.

Dockery was being charged nearly $3,700 in legal fees, all stemming from a $41 oversight. When we called the Southwest Crossing Homeowners Association, they looked into her account and determined it was a mistake and gave us the following statement: "We discovered that there was a miscommunication regarding her account. The fees and penalties have been removed from her account. We regret any confusion this may have caused."

A representative from the HOA went on to tell us it's important for homeowners to contact their management company as soon as they get an assessment statement, or other collection correspondence, if they are not able to pay in full. Boards are willing to work with homeowners who need to pay installments; however, if the Board is unaware of the hardship, they cannot begin to help the owner in avoiding collection action.

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