HOA forecloses on Mesa homeowner

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MESA, Ariz. -- Since Pamela Brummer moved into her home back in the 1980s, she says a lot has changed in her community and it hasn't been for the best.

“Trees being cut. People coming onto the property. Damage to the property and the HOA was not paying attention,” she explained.

To protect her property, Brummer built a wall around her backyard.

She also stopped paying her monthly dues to the Fountain of the Sun Homeowners Association -- a requirement. She claims the HOA wasn't doing anything to keep up the neighborhood.

“They’re voted in. They do whatever they want with our money,” she said.

As a result, Brummer's HOA fees became so overdue that the HOA took her to court. In March, it actually won a judgment to foreclose on her home.

The foreclosure is to collect a total of $16,000. Nearly $13,000 are for HOA attorney fees, and the remainder is unpaid HOA dues and interest.

Brummer says she had no idea not paying HOA dues came with such a heavy price.

“It's very sad,” she said. “It's very disturbing on a daily basis.”

Helping homeowners like Brummer fight HOAs is what George Staropoll does for a living.

While foreclosing on homeowners may seem extreme to some, he explained HOAs have the right to place a lien on your home if you fall either $1,200 behind or one year behind on their HOA dues.

According to Staropoll, it's a law most homeowners don't know about and will find almost impossible to fight.

“The laws are pro-HOA laws,” Staropoll said. “The CC&Rs are adhesion contracts. The homeowner who lives in a homeowner association is deprived of the rights, privileges, and freedoms that he enjoys outside the HOA. Why are they taken away from him?”

Advocates say living in an HOA provides services and benefits that non-HOA communities do not.

Not only that, they say homeowners like Brummer are clearly aware they're expected to pay dues and abide by certain rules when they purchase a home within an HOA. Foreclosing on a home is usually a last resort by an HOA to collect.

Brummer is finding that out the hard way.

“In the economic times, yeah, I will be sleeping in the street because they don't care. The HOA does not care,” she said.

Ultimately, it's up to the HOA to decide whether to send Brummer's home to be auctioned off. We're told the foreclosure judgment is good for five years.

The message in all this for homeowners: Know when you're buying a home with an HOA, you're agreeing to their rules, too.