Judge rules HOA can rent out investor's home


Article Courtesy of ABC Action News

By Erik Waxler

Published May 11, 2012


WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - Joanne McCarn left a Pasco County courtroom in tears Wednesday, saying her HOA is out of control.

"It's horrible," she said.

McCarn says the Bridgewater neighborhood homeowners association changed the locks on her house, evicted the renters she had living there, and the HOA president won't allow her inside.

"He threatened us to be arrested any time we come on the property and he has called the police," said McCarn.

McCarn admits she and her husband got behind on payments, but she says the HOA put a lien on the home without any notice.

And before she knew it, they had taken over the house and put their own tenant in -- all over $2,500.

"We wanted to pay them.  We have your money.  They would not only not take it.  They wouldn't talk to us," said McCarn.

Wednesday the McCarns went to court to try and get their house back. But Bridgewater's attorney said the HOA followed state law.

"When the legislature was contemplating what to do with the situation where homeowners go for years without making a payment to an association, all the while collecting rent from tenants and forcing their neighbors who are paying their bills to absorb those expenses, it decided enough is enough," said attorney Geraldine Holloway.

The judge agreed, leaving the HOA in control of the home and McCarn shocked about his decision.

"It just sickens me.  Every homeowner out there should be pissed off, they should be mad and they should be mad and fight to change these laws, because it's surreal that a HOA can take over someone's home," said McCarn.

Bridgewater's HOA president Mark Spector issued the following statement:

The ruling today is a win for people in every community who live as compliant property owners. It is a victory for people who refuse to bow to those who do not pay their debts, while benefiting from the compliance and hard work of their neighbors.

When the current members of the Bridgewater Community Association (HOA) began to guide the community, crime was rampant. Residents felt unsafe. The climate was one of fear, and properties were in deep decline. Drugs were being dealt openly in a park where families were meant to play with their children, breaking and entering was common, and gangs were gathering. At that time, only 25 percent of residents were paying dues and complying with other HOA rules. Recognizing the difficult economic times, the HOA reduced dues by 50 percent.

Today, 66 percent of members are paying dues and complying. More than 300 homes have been restored or improved through painting, landscaping, replacing or replenishing sod, pressure washing and cleaning oil stains. Homes are now selling.

The McCarn family says they are not done trying to get their house back and will take more legal action soon.

Another renter evicted by homeowners' association