The case of a North Carolina woman having her home sold via foreclosure without her knowledge due to an issue with a homeowner’s association has highlighted the authority HOAs have.
Trenita Rogers didn’t know her home had been foreclosed on by her HOA until a bidder called her, The Charlotte Observer reported previously. Rogers, whose HOA says she was behind on dues, told reporters she didn’t know her house was part of an HOA.
In North Carolina, HOAs can initiate a foreclosure and also have other powers over homeowners. But there are steps homeowners can take to fight back when issues arise.
Here’s what to know about what HOAs can control in North Carolina and how to handle disputes with your HOA:
What authority do HOAs have in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, HOAs have the authority to approve “architectural changes” to your property, the state Attorney General’s Office explains. That includes projects such as painting and additions.
An HOA may also “require its members to pay for construction or repair of common facilities.”
“Be aware that you will have to pay the fees even if you don’t use the facilities,” the AG’s office advises.
Whether an HOA can prevent you from installing solar panels has been the subject of legal disputes in North Carolina.
A June 2022 state Supreme Court ruling somewhat affirmed a homeowner’s right to install solar panels.
What can you do in a dispute with your HOA
The foreclosure process is somewhat different when initiated by an HOA rather than a bank or mortgage lender. As such, The News & Observer reported previously, scams are somewhat common, and talking to a lawyer can be worthwhile to navigate the process.
If you’re at risk of foreclosure, declaring bankruptcy can be an option to stop the process.
“Under North Carolina law, a homeowner’s last chance to stop a foreclosure with a bankruptcy filing comes upon the expiration of the upset bid period,” the Sasser Law Firm explains. “This either means the sale date plus 10 days or another 10 days after the final upset bid is submitted at the country courthouse.”
If you’re unhappy with your HOA’s bylaws, you have options under North Carolina law for changing them.
Your HOA can require up to 67% of all property owners to vote in favor of a change, and a property owner not voting can constitute a “no” vote. You’d need at least 80% of property owners to vote in favor in order to disband an HOA in North Carolina.
HOAs are also required by North Carolina law to hold at least one executive board meeting per year for property owners to speak about any issues.