Late HOA dues lead to foreclosure threat

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by By STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:05 AM

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IRVING - With mounting bills and shrinking paychecks, many people have been forced to make tough decisions. One Irving man is among those.

Steve Pilat made his house payment, but not his homeowner's association payment. It was a decision that almost cost him his home.

The Irving homeowner's home was among 88 houses and condos listed to be sold at an auction Tuesday due to overdue HOA fees.

Lacey Pilat, Steve's wife, was recently laid off. When tough times hit, Pilat said he decided to pay the bills he considered a priority. His $2,000 HOA due was not at the top of his list.

But Tuesday morning, Pilat got a call from the office of his HOA's lawyer.

"We need a check by 5 p.m. today in the form of a cashier's check or money order or we're foreclosing today and it's going to be for sale," Pilat said he was told.

The Beacon Hill Homeowner's Association initiated the foreclosure case against the Pilats' family home.

"Things pile up and they just kind of snowballed," Pilat said. "I'm not blaming anybody for my debt. It's my debt. I'm responsible for it."

Late Tuesday, in the eleventh hour, Pilat got a cashier's check and made a down payment on his HOA debt, avoiding the foreclosure.

The Irving homeowner supports a bill that would strip power from HOAs. It's power one HOA president says is necessary.

"It takes the teeth out of them," said Robert Miller, a Plano HOA president.

Miller said the threat of foreclosure is needed to ensure everyone pays their share for the upkeep of the neighborhood.

"If you can't have the hammer, you'll never get paid and the whole neighborhood will go down or a few people will support the whole neighborhood," he said. "And Ii don't think that's correct either."

Another HOA lawyer said HOAs don't want the property; they just want people to be pay what they owe. But, people like the Pilats say they had no choice but to put their family first.

Foreclosure listing service reports foreclosure numbers are up across North Texas.

Dallas County has more than 5,800 homes on the auction block this month. There were 4,200 listed in Tarrant County.

With nearly 1,700 listed homes, Collin County has had an 11 percent increase in foreclosures in a year's time.

Denton County has had the fewest listed with 1,480 listed.

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