I now address the overall legitimacy of this right by the HOA to foreclose. I have said enough about the HOA draconian foreclosure right, its discriminatory nature, and its cruel and unusual punishment aspect when the homeowner losses more than 10 times the amount owed the HOA. Or the fact that it reflects the mismanagement by the board who refuse to use standard AICPA “provisions for bad debts” to ameliorate any shortfalls.
Most CC&Rs and state laws grant the HOA a lien on the homeowner’s property from the day the assessment is due, and that the perfection of that lien is automatic when the CC&Rs are filed with the county clerk. They go on to say that the foreclosure of the lien is the same as a mortgage foreclosure. And, to get around the protections against deficiency sales, the right to a personal judgment is given the HOA by the unsuspecting homeowner. However, if the underlying right to foreclose is invalid, then the personal judgment is notwithstanding. Also, the claim that the lien is supposedly a valid consensual lien is irrelevant to the argument advanced below.
Recent developments (see in general, “MERS: Is Your Home Foreclosure Proof?”) have surfaced the longstanding rule of law that to foreclose on real property, the plaintiff must be able to establish the chain of title entitling it to relief. Although the court rulings pertain to the electronic deed filing service, MERS, the reasoning can easily be applied to HOAs since they do not hold title, nor can they establish a chain of title for relief. The law requires that the party foreclosing must produce a promissory note or assignment that it is entitled to relief. The recent court cases held that, in regard to MERS, if the foreclosing party is not the title holder of properties held in its name, the chain of title has been broken, and no one may have standing to sue.
We all know that the HOA is not the title holder, nor has an assignment of interests in the property. Remember that the laws and CC&Rs explicitly specify that the HOA foreclosure procedure follows a mortgage foreclosure procedure, which renders its right to foreclose invalid under the recent court holdings (California, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska all serve as persuasive precedent). If the laws so favored the protection of a person’s home as to require a proof of a chain of title, there should be no exception for the HOA to have a bona fide right to foreclose.
There cannot be unconstitutional special laws for a private organization without passing judicial scrutiny as to an appropriate level of government interest or purpose. If there is such a compelling necessity, and not just a convenience, then why not protect the homeowner by declaring the HOA a government entity subject to the same constitutional restrictions and prohibitions as all other government entities are subject?
These recent developments also raise the issue of an entitlement to relief. What is the entitlement to relief owe to the HOA that warrants cruel and excessive punishment through foreclosure? What are the damages to the HOA that are never stated by the HOA to warrant such a draconian procedure? Damages that favor and benefit the third-party HOA attorney more than the HOA itself? If the lender must produce a chain of title when it has advanced hard cash, why is the HOA, who has not advanced any hard cash, entitled to the same relief?
Homeowners facing HOA foreclosures should immediately contact a lawyer to pursue this defense and put a stop to draconian foreclosures that serve to intimidate and punish homeowners who have fallen on hard times.