HOAs have long complained about how difficult it can be to collect delinquent fees that they are owed by homeowners who rent out their homes. In response, some states have taken action to allow HOAs to demand payment from the tenants of properties that have past due rent or fees, even though they are not technically the ones who have an agreement with the association.
While many HOAs are breathing a sigh of relief that they now have more avenues to recoup their losses and put pressure on delinquent accounts, these laws have also created a situation where the people being held responsible are technically innocent parties that have been put in the middle of a conflict they may have no control over. Despite this, some associations are resorting to booting residents’ cars, even those owned by tenants and not delinquent owners. Is this going too far?
Obviously, an HOA has the right to collect the money that is owned it by any legal means. Many absentee landlords are happy to ignore association demands in the knowledge that there often isn’t much that can be done against them, or that the HOA pursuing legal options can take quite a bit of time.
Being able to target renters who live in delinquent properties is a great way to put pressure on these owners. Renters who are targeted because of their landlords’ failures aren’t likely to stay silent about it, and the bother of having to constantly hear from angry tenants or the prospect that their renters might also take action against them, can sometimes be enough to get otherwise negligent homeowners to get right with the association.
Unfortunately, this avenue by necessity means that the HOA is targeting people who are not actually responsible for the fees not being paid. Particularly aggressive actions, such as booting renters’ cars to keep them from using them, can cause a lot of friction between the association and community members who may have limited ability to actually fix the problem.
While associations should take measures against renters if it is absolutely necessary, they should be judicious in how they apply them. Keep in mind that tenants are not the ones who have actually broken an agreement, and that being too aggressive can appear malicious instead of appropriate.
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