DENVER - Dozens of homeowners, all in the same neighborhood, are facing foreclosure due to homeowners association-related fees and fines.
“What we learned was that of the 119 HOA foreclosures that happened in 2021, 50 were from one HOA that is located in Green Valley Ranch and that's a pretty disproportionate share of those here in Denver,” said Britta Fishers, the director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability.
Denver city records show the HOA responsible for the most HOA foreclosures is Master Homeowners Association for Green Valley Ranch.
Fisher said her office has been contacted multiple times by concerned homeowners who didn't know HOA’s had the power to foreclose on homes.
“HOA’s have broad powers for collecting assessments and when those assessments, whether that's fines, fees, or other assessments, are not paid, they can put a lien on a home. Those liens take precedence over even a mortgage loan. They are through the court system and their civil actions,” Fisher said. “In Colorado, we have quite a few special districts…special districts also have powers to collect assessments, fines, and fees.”
Monica Villela, a resident of Green Valley Ranch, said her special district was behind the recent foreclosure on her home.
“They were issuing a lot of fines for anything… the grass, leaving the trash can out, a lot of fines, $50 or $100. They went all the way up to $8,000. The last time I checked, it was $10,000 in fines,” Villela said.
Villela said her family could not pay the fines, but she did not know that was grounds for foreclosure. Villela said she did not know the special district foreclosed on her home until the new owner of her home knocked on her door.
“Three weeks ago, the new owner shows up…and he told me, I'm the new owner, I bought your house,” Villela said.
Villela said her family paid their mortgage on time for nearly two decades and her mortgage company is investigating the foreclosure.
“I'm shocked. I didn't know that an HOA could do that,” Villela’s friend and neighbor Ronda Haynes-Belen said.
Haynes-Belen works for the Community Engagement Center for Denver Public Schools and said several families facing HOA-related foreclosures have asked for help.
“After I heard from Monica, a couple of other people reached out for resources,” Haynes-Belen said. “We have a metro district. And I called them just to say, 'Hey, I'm just double checking that I don't have any fines that are out that are outstanding.' They said no.”
“This is not fair. This is not fair doing this to us,” Villela said.
Villela said, for now, her family is out of their house but they won’t stop fighting for their home.
This story was originally published by Micah Smith of KMGH in Denver, Colorado.