Fairfax, VA asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: I purchased a home and my realtor, title company, and former owner noted was no HOA. Newly active HOA is seeking dues.

I’ve simply refused to pay and asked for further documentation and the covenants and the cc &r. I also asked for the breakdown of the budget and why the dues are being exercised. I also noted that the HOA was never disclosed at any time and that I will be seeking legal advice.

They threatened if I did not pay they would put a lien on my house, and seemed skiddish when I asked for a breakdown of the budget. Also, I’ve been told by neighbors that the HOA hadn’t ever really been active since the early 80s and that they are attempting to restart it as of 10/2019.

Update*** the previous owner stated that they lived in the house over 25 years and never paid or belonged to the HOA. The HOA was registered by the developer in 1979 for 25 lots; including my lot. The documentation makes no mention of assessments. The title search revealed no HOA for the lot according to the deed. Do I have a right to withdraw from the HOA?

Not sure what to do. I appreciate any further advice.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart
Answered
  • Salem, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: You should have an 'owner's title policy' - look at it and see if there is any mention of a homeowner's association. If not, then make a claim under the title insurance policy as it may be a covered risk.

Homeowners associations can be crazy - many are good but some get idiots in control. You may want to consult a lawyer who handles HOA law.

Elizabeth Crego
Elizabeth Crego
Answered
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: If there is an HOA attached to your property, you are a member of that HOA whether you were notified at signing or not. The existence of the HOA and its status is a matter of public record. Its governing documents, including the master deed or declaration creating the HOA, should be recorded in land records. Other documents, such as meeting minutes and rules and regulations do not have to be recorded and should be provided to you by the HOA. I would say that you owe assessments, provided that the assessments are properly provided for in these documents, regardless of whether they've given you copies of the governing documents. However, as a homeowner allegedly in the HOA, you have a right to demand and receive a copy of all the documents.

The HOA, if it is properly set up, does have the ability to perfect a lien on your property if you don't pay assessments. The fact that it has not been active for several years should not affect that right, provided that they went through the proper procedure for reactivation. No legal action should proceed, however, until they have provided you the documents for the HOA.

You likely do not have a substantial action against the HOA here, but you may have something against the closing company or prior owner, depending on what they knew or should have known.

***Please note that we do not have an attorney client relationship, that I have not reviewed your case in detail, and that the above is not meant to be definitive advice for your case. If you require anything further, you should reach out to an attorney.***

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