‘It’s unfair,’ couple cries as HOA wins 29 years in prison over backyard problem

‘It’s unfair,’ couple cries as HOA wins 29 years in prison over backyard problem

TWO homeowners claim their HOA unfairly took their homes after nearly 30 years.

The couple’s Raleigh, North Carolina, home was foreclosed on by their homeowners association after 29 years, although they are not behind on their payments.

The couple said their HOA foreclosed on them after living in their home for 29 years.Credit: ABC11
They argued that they were not late on any paymentsCredit: ABC11

The HOA evicted them from their home because the backyard and house did not meet HOA standards, local ABC News affiliate WTVD reported.

Usually, residents assume that their governing associations will only impose fines for such violations.

Roger and Clara Dunlap told WTVD they are both completely disabled.

The husband explained that his wife suffered from dementia.

Roger said his wife was in and out of the hospital after suffering a stroke and was also battling throat cancer at the time.

“They took him and there was nothing I could do about it. It was unfair,” Roger said.

“You pay for a house for 29 years, and they take it.”

The HOA first informed the couple about problems they were having with trash and debris in their yard in 2013, according to documents obtained by WTVD.

Court documents also note that the association also had issues with rot on the side of Dunlap’s house, which the HOA considered an eyesore.

The couple reportedly did not respond to the numerous violations.

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Although the HOA fined the Dunlaps for these issues, the fines amounted to thousands of dollars.

The fines as well as attorney and court costs totaled more than $10,000.

All for not keeping the house clean and not following HOA rules.

The association ultimately placed a lien on the disabled couple’s house.

What is an HOA?

One in five Americans lives in an area with a homeowners association – or HOA. But what exactly do they do?

  • An HOA is a homeowners association – an organization that aims to maintain a clean, consistent living space for its residents.
  • Entire neighborhoods, subdivisions, condominiums, single family homes, or townhouses within a “planned development” will often constitute an HOA.
  • They also act as the governing body for the tenants, who manage and fund the HOA through monthly fees.
  • Their primary goals are to maintain the function and visual appeal of the community and to maintain property values.
  • They focus primarily on a neighborhood’s common areas, such as roads, parks and swimming pools, but can also stipulate what residents can do with their properties, such as yards and driveways.
  • Often, these restrictions impose uniformity on properties, such as ensuring that most houses look the same and that all driveways are free of weeds.
  • An HOA rule book containing covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) is distributed to all residents, and an elected volunteer board of directors enforces these regulations.
  • Failure to follow these rules can result in penalties such as fines and even litigation, as most HOAs are incorporated and subject to state law.
  • HOAs are often the subject of controversy, with some members believing that the rules are too punitive and restrictive, or that the leaders have too much power.
  • But others, like this one, give communities the power to self-govern and can ensure a certain degree of harmony among residents.

The HOA finally foreclosed on the house in 2016.

Roger stressed that he did not realize the seriousness of the problem due to the couple’s health problems.

He said he made several improvements requested by the HOA, but nothing was ever enough.

“They said he couldn’t put anything under his deck,” noted Roger’s brother Jim.

“Then they didn’t say anything under the floor, and then they started walking around the house and picking.”

Apparently, Roger wasn’t even receiving all the letters the HOA sent him regarding the violations.

He said he never knew the HOA had foreclosed on his home and kicked him and his wife out of their home of 29 years until law enforcement present at his door.

The sheriff’s deputy told him he had to leave and that he no longer owned his house.

Even after obtaining an attorney, Roger was unable to respond to the HOA’s demands.

“He had no idea the power of this association,” said attorney Kimberly Thomas.

The homeowner attempted to pay the HOA more than $10,000 in fines, court costs and attorney fees as a last-ditch attempt to keep his home.

“They got the check,” Thomas said.

“But then they sent the check back to the lawyer with a note saying no, his house is really in bad shape, we need something more.”

He and his wife finally had to say goodbye to their longtime home.