A caller said he was angry at his homeowners association because it had raised monthly dues to compensate for revenues lost from neighbors who were abandoning their home to foreclosure. He said that he owned his own home free and clear and that he wanted to stop paying his HOA dues in protest against the increased assessments. He wanted to know whether HOA could foreclose on his home to collect dues.
The caller told me he assumed that the Constitutional homestead provision protected his home from forced sale initiated by an HOA lien. I told the caller he should pay his HOA dues.
There are exceptions to Florida’s homestead protections. One of the exceptions is a consensual (voluntary) lien. A mortgage is an example of a consensual lien. When a homeowner secures the repayment of a loan by giving the lender a mortgage the homeowner has agreed by contract to waive homestead protection. If that were not the case few people in Florida could finance the purchase of their homestead. By law homeowners associations also have consensual liens on houses in their respective subdivisions. An HOA can impose a lien on your property for unpaid dues and assessments.
Although the dues and assessments may initially be small the Florida statutes provide the HOA the right to add attorneys fees incurred in the collection of unpaid amounts. Law firms working for HOAs have been known to pile on attorney fees. A relatively small assessment, with fees added, can become a significant lien on your home. If the lien is not paid, the HOA has the right to foreclose the lien just as a bank can foreclose an unpaid mortgage. I explained to the caller that his protest against the HOA dues could cause him to lose his free and clear homestead.