1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Homeowners Tips
  4. What Are the Consequences of Not Paying HOA Dues?
Beach Neighborhood

When looking at houses, it’s common to think about things like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the size of the backyard. Something that may not immediately come to mind are the rules of the neighborhood and whether you have to join a homeowners association (HOA).

HOAs are among the most controversial topics in homeownership. Some people love the services an association provides. Others may detest paying monthly dues and being under HOA supervision.

If you happen to fall into the latter group, we’ll go over when you may have the option to opt out of the HOA. If you choose just not to pay your dues, we’ll discuss the actions the association may be able to take against you.

What’s the Potential Benefit of an HOA?

If you’re looking to buy or if you already own a home with no HOA dues, you most likely are responsible for mowing your lawn, shoveling your driveway and doing general upkeep of your property. If you live in an establishment such as a condo that has monthly HOA dues, the association is most likely responsible for the general upkeep.

That’s where HOA dues come into play. As with most things in life, there’s a price to pay. Each association has different policies. Some HOA dues even include city services such as trash removal. Insurance could also be part of the equation.

How to Get Out of an HOA Contract

If you don’t want to be in a homeowners association or can’t afford it, the easiest option is not to join one in the first place. However, depending on the rules associated with your neighborhood, joining may be compulsory.

When you look at a home, if the neighborhood has rules, you should ask for a copy of the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). If these covenants say you must join the association, you don’t have a choice, assuming you want that house.

Whether you can opt out or not depends on the rules. You may be able to opt out of certain services and save money on your dues.

If you feel you’re in compliance and being unfairly singled out by your association, you may want to get an attorney involved to do anything from file a formal written complaint to pursue legal action if necessary. The same goes if you think that any provision of the rules isn’t legally enforceable or that the association isn’t holding up its end of the bargain.

Can I Negotiate HOA Fees?

You really can’t negotiate HOA fees on an individual basis. The only thing you can do is vote on matters that come before residents. In order to have real negotiating power, you have to get on the association board.

By being on the board, you have an increased voice on how money is spent, but it also comes with increased responsibility. If you think you can get a better rate for pool cleaning or property management, you’re now the person in charge of sourcing those services to bring the proposal to the rest of the stakeholders in the neighborhood.

One thing every resident can do is request a copy of the budget to see where money is going. Having an accurate picture of the current situation will help you make informed decisions when things come up for a vote.

Do HOA Fees Ever Go Away?

Once an association is started in a neighborhood or condo complex, fees for members of that HOA are ongoing until the association dissolves. This makes sense because the association’s mission is to provide ongoing services.

Most of the time, you’ll have the HOA fees for as long as you stay in the home.

What Happens When You Don’t Pay HOA Fees?

First off, I’d recommend not taking this route. However, there may be certain extenuating circumstances that leave few or  no options. While different states have different laws, there are some fundamental steps that will most likely take place.

For starters, HOA boards don’t typically wait around. If you miss a payment, you can expect to receive a letter stating that you have an outstanding debt. There may even be details about the next steps the board will take to recoup the dues. As with other missed payments, you can also expect to be charged a late fee plus interest.

That’s only the beginning, though. Your rights as a homeowner can be suspended in the community. If your association has common areas such as a pool or clubhouse, your right to use such areas could be revoked, along with your right to vote on HOA matters.

If you have a vacation property that you rent out part of the year, you can expect to have the money you thought you’d be getting for rent go directly to your unpaid dues. However, once you’re caught up on your HOA dues, you’ll start receiving your money again.

The above consequences are serious, yes. As you’ll find out, though, it can get a whole lot worse. For example, the association can file a lien on your property. If you sell the property, the lien and any other fees will be deducted before you get your money.

In some states, you can be evicted from your property, although this only occurs in drastic situations. In this case, the association would rent out your unit or home until you are all caught up on your payments. In rare instances, your property can also be foreclosed on. Associations typically try to avoid this route, as the responsibility for all taxes and utilities falls to the HOA.

To avoid any consequences, there are steps you can take. The first thing you can do is keep an open line of communication between you and the association. If you know you’re going to be late or miss a payment, let your board know ASAP. Some boards will work with you to come up with a payment plan.

Now, we want to hear from you. Do you have any other tips when it comes to dealing with HOA dues? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re in a market for a home with or without HOA dues, talk to a Home Loan Expert today!

This Post Has 99 Comments

  1. Do I continue to pay my HOA dues if it is FTB suspended in California? They continue charging home owners dues and they continue writing ticket fees for any kind of violations.

    1. Hi Julian:

      I would highly suggest contacting local legal representation. We’re not experts in California tax law.

  2. In my condo community us homeowners suspect that our HOA president is embezzling our hoa dues! The outside is looking horrible. There is dried rotted wood all over the place. The pool is nasty and we can’t use it. The tennis court has cracks all over it. Not to mention she painted our units on the outside when she was suppose to hold a meeting so we could vote on a contractor!!! Also she has a trailer out here that has all of her tools in it. All this is against the bylaws.

  3. I really dont understand our HOA ?
    We’re stop paying because I don’t see anything HOA doing. First we did not get the house we signed for. Is the same plane but everything is in the opposite side. We wanted a large backyard and it end up the big yard is at Front. And the back yard small. when we ask we where told all the papers where signed, so we stay. 2nd I espasificly told them no gas at my house. Well they did put gas. When ask we wher told we need to have gas do to the hot water. I have lived in houses with no gas never paid for a gas Bill. 3rd the only thing that get fix is the pool which we never have use, other than that I don’t see anything get fix, my back fence is destroy do to all the high winds. Our roof got damaged we fix it our self insurance deductible was to high. So we pay out of packet, one wall of the house is loose, do to Frequent strong winds, Now a letter came informing us we have a court date or we can pay 10.00 to get updated we don’t have the money.
    FYI-When all this was happening my mother in law died. We spend money on that . then my husband sister died after takeing care of her x 8-months. All those expensives. We pay out of packet .
    Our AOH, I don’t really know what they do?, except Harassing us from the 1st month. Trash cans on the side of house I received a (letter. )Need to be moved
    But I see that 60% of houses have the trash cans at the side of their home and they still do, Harvest Ridg. In keller/ Fort Worth 76244, my husband is 60yrs and I’m 55. Any advised will be really Aprusiated. Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Maris:

      I wouldn’t stop paying your dues because depending on what’s in the agreement, they can put a lien on your house. If the actual house isn’t to your liking, your only real option is to sell and find a new one. It does sound like a very difficult situation. As far as the expenses, the only thing I can tell you is to get a copy of the agreement and make sure you’re absolutely clear on any maintenance they are supposed to pay for. If they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain as far as the roof, you can sue it and try to get that money potentially. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful.

    1. Some people enjoy the benefits of shared amenities and not having to do maintenance on the lawn, but you certainly have to read the agreement.

  4. I’ve been a homeowner in a small condo complex, 7 units for 10 yrs plus. I’m 75 with very limited income and can no longer afford assn. dues ($175/mo). Our bylaws require that 4 of the 7 units be owner occupied but that is not the case, four owners live outside the area. If we were in compliance, we’d be eligible for FHA approval and I could get a reverse mortgage (I WAS good candidate until my credit rating started to slide 4 months ago). Anyway, I stopped making dues payments with the caveat that past dues would be made up when I sell. In the meantime, I’m suffering to the tune of about $1200/month because of the reverse mortgage ineligibility. i tried to get a mortgage adjustment, but BoA (after 10 years of timely mortgage payments) says I’m too reliable and too poor. Can’t get a re-fi because I have (meager) undocumented income. Quicken Loans have called me dozens of times, to no avail. I can’t afford an attorney. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Vicki:

      That sounds like a difficult situation. While I can’t make any promises, our friends at our sister company One Reverse Mortgage do have a new loan product called Home Equity Loan Optimizer. It doesn’t require that the condo be FHA approved.It might be worth looking into. You can check out more information here and then visit One Reverse Mortgage or give them a call at (888) 980-1543.

    2. Thank you for that information , but my can they really take your condo that you pay the mortgage to each month, so why would a mortgage company let anyone take anything
      I can see putting a Lien on the property Until you sell I live inNew Haven ct
      Can u give me a answer?

      1. Hi Don:

        That’s an excellent question! Essentially, a mortgage company will often do the loan even if the association would theoretically have the power to take the property back because they want to help you get the financing you need. You get the condo. They get the money, and everyone is happy!

        The way mortgage companies protect themselves from undue risk in that situation is to make sure the association dues are included in your mortgage payment when they qualify you for the loan. Having a lien and charging you when the property is sold is another alternative, but it’s not unheard of for an association to try to foreclose. Thanks for asking!

  5. Hi
    I just received documents for a HOA that was not in my closing documents . There is an HOA listed that I have been paying each month. This company didn’t not exist when I closed on my on home and now they are sending me letters stating that I old them 3500. What should I do? There services they provide pool tennis I have never had access to.

    1. I would contact the association board you have been paying and see what they know about it. If they aren’t mentioned in the documentation, it might be worth contacting an attorney.

  6. If you want to have an HOA with zero dues (ours are hundreds per month), allow shorter term rentals and charge those owners a small fee each tome they have a short term rental… $50 or so… And use that to offset dues for everyone, and to pay for debt service for major assessments. It’s an idea that works like magic, and short term renters are always better than long term renters, guaranteed.

  7. My HOA disclosed my house as a single lot. The county shows my property as a single lot with on tax ID. After close the HOA stated they forgot the property was actually two lots with two dues, then sent me paperwork requesting the county replat my property in to two lots. After doing some research I found a document from 1997 saying the lot was replatted in to a single lot and signed by the owner, HOA President, county treasurer, and surveyor that did the work. What can I do?

    1. Good morning, Kip:

      The question I have is whether the county replotted. I would think that what they say goes. I would also confront them with the fact that they signed the paperwork in 1997 saying it was one lot. You also bought the house on the understanding that it would be one set of dues. If you don’t get satisfactory resolution, you might take that to a lawyer. I would think there might be a case for some sort of false representation claim, but I’m not an attorney. Thanks!

  8. I own my townhouse outright. I don’t have to live there as I have alternatives. The Association I live in is the most dysfunctional place I’ve ever seen. What would happen if I just quit paying my HOA fees and abandoned the property? I have no heirs. Would they just put a lien on the property and wait until I die or would they do something else. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lyn:

      Depending on what’s written in your agreement and the local laws, they could do anything from place a lien to doing a full foreclosure on your property. Not only would you lose the home, but it could seriously impact your credit if you tried to get a loan down the line. It’s something to think about.

    2. 1st I am very sorry you have no family to fall back on. 2nd I am a HOA Community Manager that takes great pride in my communities and please don’t give up and just walk away. They don’t have to wait till you die. They can foreclose and sell it and take the money and still not take care of the Association and your home and money would have been for nothing. Please contact me and let me know how bad are they and let’s see if I can come up with any helpful ideas for you. I don’t believe in giving in! 🙂 -Lynn E.

  9. I am always on time with my HOA dues however the board of management are not taking care of the section (end of the complex) where I live however the front of the complex is always well taken. There is a fence that came down 7 years ago due to the hurricane and I know the insurance co paid the board however it was never fixed. I asked several time to take care of it and they always have an excuse (it’s not on the budget, it’ll be done next year, etc). There is no grass behind my unit (there used to be) and since they are not treating it, the grass is gone. I asked if the grass could be treated and again they make all kinds of excuses (not in the budget, not this year, etc). However I noticed this week the front of the grass in front of the complex was treated. They are picking and choosing what to do and 98% is the front of the unit (where the majority of the board member live). There are other issues too. I feel they are doing it on purpose. I am at to the point to stop paying to HOA dues to take care of the problems. I hired an attorney who wrote them a letter and nothing was done. I don’t know what else to do.

    1. Hi Milly:

      I wouldn’t stop paying the dues because they could have the power to place a lien on your home which could cause trouble. I would talk to the attorney and see if you might be able to file an actual legal case against them for breach of contract at this point. If you are paying for agreed-upon services that aren’t being handled, you might have a case.

  10. My next door neighbor paid cash for her condo 15 months ago. My condo assoc will be filing a lien on her condo as she is $1200 past due on her monthly condo fees. She is also in violation of other rules for which she has been notified and for which she will end up being charged for repair of property damage. What can be done to someone who owns their condo outright if they either refuse or are unable to pay their monthly fees?

    1. Hi Michelle:

      I would check the bylaws, but if they can put a lien on the house, they probably give themselves the right to kick her out. That would be what might happen next.

  11. We have been in our home for 10 yrs. Our HOA was part of our escrow. Our mortgage lender has changed hands 3 times now. Meantime the HOA says we owe $7,500 in dues but sends us a settlement of $2,800 because the HOA financial group has changed hands. They threatened to put a lien on the home and have added $2000 in lawyer fees. Is this lagel. They are now asking after 10yrs. We are in the middle of gathering info from our old mortgage holders which is taking a lot of time since they do not own our home anymore.

    1. I think the best thing to do would be to try to contact your current mortgage servicer as well. The first thing that jumps to mind is that sometimes homeowners association dues aren’t escrowed by the servicer. However, if that were the case, the extra money you were putting in for escrow should have been refunded to you or applied to your mortgage payment and some other way, so you would have noticed most likely. But I would start by talking to your current servicer. That’s whoever you send the payment to. Hope this helps!

    2. There are only 4 items that can legally be paid with your house note/escrow: Principle, Insurance, Taxes and Interest = PITI. It is illegal to pay anything else through escrow. If someone told you this, they were egregiously incorrect. All of this is included on your HUD settlement statement received when you purchased your home.

  12. Hello we live in my boyfriend’s fathers house who died. He left it to my boyfriend’s brother. The house is either in the deceased fathers name or the brothers. The brother also signed a condo agreement. Now my boyfriend and i have been living here with our 4 children. The brother moved out. We are struggling to pay condo fees to the neighbor and they are threatening to take us to court. We owe almost a grand according to them. We have never seen any paperwork or signed any agreement. Our name is not on the deed or the mortgage eithwer. Can they take us to court? Or should they be taking his brother since he is the one who made an agreement and owns the house….but we live here. We are also behind on our mortgage and probably losing the house soon anyways. Thank you for any advice I could really use some.

    1. Hi Alr:

      My first advice is to talk to a financial advisor to see if you can get your finances in decent shape. There may be a local nonprofit that could take a look at things for you and help you come up with a plan. As to your actual question, they would be taking your boyfriend’s brother to court most likely since he’s the one that signed the agreement. However, they may be able to kick you out. It depends on the way the agreement is written. Also, if the property ends up in foreclosure, your boyfriend’s brother’s credit could take a big hit and has mortgage options would be very limited for a while. I would talk to the mortgage servicer and see if there’s anything you can work out. That being said, you could have an issue because your name isn’t actually on the mortgage, as they may not be able to help you.

      I would really talk to a financial advisor and go from there.


  13. I’ve been hit with a 1500 assessment to fix one of the other condos in the area.
    I’m a full time student going to school on the GI Bill and I’ve been paying an additional 50 bucks a month. However, they tell me that I need to be payed up bye the end of this month.
    I don’t have it, any suggestions?

    1. Hi Jason:

      If you have to, you could do something like take a personal loan to get the money. The smallest amount our friends at RocketLoans do is $2,000.

      However, before you take a step like that, I would ask them what changed if you’ve been paying an additional $50 a month and that’s been okay up to this point, why is that suddenly an issue? You don’t want to take any financial steps that you don’t have to.


  14. The house I live my grandma died so we ain’t been paying rent but only the association we waiting for the bank to take the house we can still b paying the association

  15. Hi there,

    I am interested in your opinion. In 2010, when I bought a condo, the HOA fee was $110, and included the basic and standard cable channels. Last year, since a new management company took the place of being in charge, the HOA fee went to $195 and does not include the basic and standard cable anymore. All that happened without informing us, the owners of the condos. I’d appreciate your comment. Thank you in advance.



    1. Hi Aleksandar:

      Cable is expensive now, do you get anything else for $195 per month? Also, someone had to negotiate the contract with the association. I would talk to them about what you getting and if there are any services that you’re supposed to get that you didn’t, that’s something you can take up with them and you may have legal action.


  16. About a year ago, we bought a condo (no pool, tennis courts, parks etc.) with 5 additional units in a small town. Since we were not told about any condo dues, we asked our relator before closing. He laughed and said no more than $15.00 a month. When we moved in, we were told our condo (no contract) dues were $50.00 a month, After 6 months (we had an association meeting and it was voted to raise the association dues to $100 a month and pay 6 months dues in advance, to be used for improvements as needed. Later some of the units roof were leaking, and insurance put a new roof on. The association has to pay the difference in what our insurance paid and the cost. It was our understanding the association was to pay the difference out of our association dues, but was later told by our association secretary that we had to pay the difference, That it would NOT come out of our dues. That we need to build up money for later expenses. Our association fees ($600 for six months are due and paid in advance, but we are not planning to pay. Instead we are going to apply our association fees toward our roof’s repair and deductible. This is not going over well with the association, and was told we had to pay both the condo fees AND the deductible for the roof repair. Since, I feel that was what the condo dues (deductible for roof) should be used for, I do not feel that we should pay both? We were never given a condo contract, and it seems the association rules are made up as they go. Please advise in direction we should go.

    1. Hi Gloria:

      If you were never given any contracts stipulating what your rights and responsibilities were, I might talk to a lawyer if I were you. The association does have to have a certain amount of reserves in order for people to move in to the condos with a mortgage in many cases due to investor requirements, so I see where they’re coming from, but I don’t know if you’re responsible for the fact that they can’t budget.


    2. When your purchased your unit it its the law that you be given the relevant documents to read which include the Uniform Condominium Act and the Declaration of Condominium for your particular community. You signed off that you received and read these important documents. They spell out your obligations as well as those of the HOA. you should review these.
      With that said, know that the HOA board can change anything with no notice to the members if they so choose. The exception being those set out in the documents I mentioned. Usually a big change like who pays for roof replacement is handled by an amendment to the Declaration of Condominium that must be approved by a majority (e.g. 2/3rds) of owners.

1 2

Leave a Reply to Zing Admin Cancel comment reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *