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We've heard the complaints for years now... complaints about homeowners' associations that have gained too much power, even foreclosing on homes for non-payment of dues, fees and fines.

But state lawmakers may be about to strip some of that power away.

Glen Greer of Frisco, who visits his chiropractor several times a week, is desperate for relief.

A chronic back ailment has not only limited his mobility, it has hampered his ability to work and pay his bills on time, including $89 in quarterly dues to his homeowners' association.

Although Greer says he is current on all his association dues, he is being hit with late fees, attorneys fees, fines, and interest totaling more than $700.

But because I didn't pay exactly on time, they slammed me with fees and they kept multiplying them and of course I just kept paying my dues, assuming my dues were being paid, Greer said. Come to find out they are not. I can never catch up.

When he asked his HOA for financial relief, he received a letter informing him he was being awarded a $30 credit.

But farther down in the same letter, Greer was informed of a $25 payment plan processing fee which all but wiped out the credit.

Now his association is threatening to begin collection proceedings against Greer, meaning he could ultimately lose his house to foreclosure over a $700 debt.

It's something that I've always dreamed about is having my own home, Greer said. And now because I'm having a rough time, I feel I'm being kicked while I'm down.

The situation was worse for Army Reserve Capt. Michael Clauer, whose Frisco home was foreclosed last year over $800 in missed association dues while Clauer was stationed in Iraq.

His homeowners' association sold his house without his knowledge for $3,200.

When his story went national, the tide began to turn at the State Capitol in Austin.

A wave of new laws were proposed, designed to restrict HOA powers that keep homeowners under financial duress and in the quicksand of debt.

State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said what's happening to Greer is commonplace in Texas.

You pay your legal fees, and other penalties and interest before the assessment is credited toward the assessment that you were supposed to have been paying in the first place, West said. What that does is basically what it does to people in other areas it puts them further and further behind.

Supporters of current HOA practices, like the Texas Community Association Advocates, say stories getting media attention are the exception and not the rule and that lawmakers are over-reacting.

The TCAA does support some regulation, but says most homeowners are happy with their HOA's performance.

But advocates for change say the time for curbing HOA powers is now.

All I'm asking for is for them to understand that I'm in a tough spot right here, and what I want is for someone to be fair and equitable in resolving this so that I can get on with my life, Glen Greer said.

There are at least 28 bills moving through the legislature targeting property and homeowners' association powers. The full Senate recently passed one of the major bills.

The biggest opposition appears to be coming from builders and developers associations, which believe a strong HOA is the best way to protect their investment.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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