Homeowners associations make themselves look bad (updated)

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This story about a homeowner’s association selling a house without the homeowner even knowing about it, is alarming:

Pamela Bernhardt was close to completing renovations on a house she owned and hoped to sell. She had installed a new roof, new granite tops in the kitchen and new tiles in the bathroom.

Earlier this month, she arrived at the house on the 14200 block of Swallowfield in southwest Houston and found a small, yellow note stuck to the front door.

The handwritten note said that the house had been sold at a foreclosure sale seven months earlier. The local homeowners association had sold the house, valued at about $250,000, saying Bernhardt failed to pay a $420 assessment fee.

“It was so devastating,” Bernhardt said. “I was just stunned.”

Bernhardt’s situation was another example of the excessive power of homeowners associations and the need to reform the use of foreclosure sales to collect fees, state leaders and activists said Wednesday.

A lawyer for the Briarhills Homeowners Association, which foreclosed on the house, said sufficient protection is on the books for homeowners and that Bernhardt was given ample opportunities to pay the debt.

A $420 debt caused her home to be sold. It’s bad enough that homeowners associations can tell you what you can and cannot do with your own backyard, but selling a home for a $420 debt is outrageous. That shouldn’t even be legal.

RELATED: KHOU-11’s coverage

UPDATE: Chris Baker (KTRH-740) is raging about this. And it really is unbelievable — as Chris says, “this is America; this is TEXAS!” Yeah, there is something very unAmerican about this whole mess.

Chris talked to the homeowner, Pam Bernhardt. The homeowners association attorney, Terry Sears, was on the Debra Duncan show before Chris’ show and the homeowner, Pam Bernhardt, said her attorney was scheduled to meet with Sears at 3 p.m. But Sears didn’t show up…because he had been on the Debra Duncan show! Sears left copies of the certified letters for Bernhardt’s attorney and she says all the notifying letters went to an incorrect address.

Bernhardt also told Chris that her house was sold for (oh my goodness) $1,600!


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About Anne Linehan 2323 Articles
Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.