Florida Homeowners Associations crippled by housing crisis

Article and Video Courtesy of NewsChannel 5 -- Palm Beach County

By Jeff Skrzypek

Published February 9, 2012

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - The home buying market has undoubtedly had a huge impact on both developers and buyers. But homeowners associations are also in the middle caught up in all the mess of the housing crisis.

"It's really like all this money has been taken from you and you have absolutely no recourse on anything that's happening," said Donna Wong, a homeowner.

Wong has paid her homeowners association dues every month for the past seven years. But not everyone in her townhouse community does.

"It makes you feel like you just want to give up," said Wong.

Paying HOA dues can be the last bill on the mind of a homeowner especially when they are struggling to pay their mortgage. But in Estancia Palm Springs, residents did not have anyone to turn to with their complaints or needs.

The HOA was still under the control of the development, not the owners.

"You have a lot of homeowners associations that have high rental rates now. And the homeowners that initially moved into the communities thought they were going to have an ownership community," said Lymon Bradford, a real estate lawyer.

Bradford said because the economy dropped housing prices, developers of communities Estancia Palm Springs decided to rent the remaining of foreclosed units while the market recovered. But because nine of the more than 60 units have not sold, the developer does not have to hand over control of the HOA to homeowners.

"If you're not happy with the way the association is being run, then step up and try to become a part of the individuals who run the association," said Bradford.

Bradford advises frustrated residents to petition and file motions with the county that might force the banks to speed up the foreclosure process.