The January 2, 2012 “Tip of the Week” by HOAleader.com, a clearinghouse for legal issues involving community associations, quoted attorneys from Sunbelt states that Home Owners Association (HOA) liens are preferable to obtaining judgments against property owners, who are delinquent in paying their assessments. However, this assertion about Sunbelt states may not be applicable to Community Associations operating in the state of Virginia. Although Sect. 55-516 of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act (POAA) provides a fairly inexpensive and quick method for obtaining a lien on a delinquent owner’s property, that process is subject to certain time limitations that are not applicable to judgments. The POAA memorandum has to be filed within 12 months from the time the assessment first becomes delinquent and the lien becomes unenforceable after 36 months from the time when the memorandum of lien is recorded. In contrast, an association can obtain a judgment for delinquent assessments 3-5 years old and the judgment can be enforced for a period of 20 years after it is obtained. Once obtained, a judgment can be enforced against the property or by garnishment of wages or accounts.
One other major difference between Virginia and the Sunbelt states referred to in the HOAleader Tip is that in Virginia personal judgments can easily be recorded in the clerk’s office where deeds are recorded to constitute a lien on a member’s property. According to the statements from the attorneys quoted, personal judgments cannot easily be converted into liens on property in those Sunbelt states. Depending on your circumstances, one method may be more preferable than the other.
If your Home Owners Association has questions concerning community association issues, please contact Frank Buck.