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Legal? Florida HOA Evicts Owner's Tenant, Changes Locks and Rents It Out

Legal? Florida HOA Evicts Owner's Tenant, Changes Locks and Rents It Out

"This is not a foreclosed house. This is still my house."

Joanne McCarn's home in Wesley Chapel, Fla., is not foreclosed. She owns it and had rented it to a single mother of five children. According to the Tampa Tribune, though, the homeowners association has been walking a "tricky legal path" that led it to evict the tenant after the mother would not pay her rent to the HOA instead of McCarn. The association then moved in their own tenant and has been collecting the rent itself.

"This is not a foreclosed house," McCarn said. "This is still my house."

The Tribune reports it all started when the Bridgewater Community Association imposed a lien on McCarn in 2009, which she had not paid. McCarn said she did miss one HOA payment of $225 after her mother died, which she is willing to pay, but the lien is for more than $2,000. The Tribune states the lien amount includes "special assessments" and other fees that include legal costs and a $500 rental fee. McCarn states she and her husband tried to remedy the situation with the HOA President Mark Spector but were thrown off his property.

The original renter was later given 24 hours to leave the property. McCarn was then informed by a neighbor when a U-Haul pulled up and a new renter moved in. Watch the local news report for more, including background on other issues homeowners have had with this specific HOA before:

The Tribune has more on the legal issues surrounding this practice:

"Taking possession of the property and renting the unit out, that part is not something afforded by the law," said Ben Solomon, a south Florida-based homeowners association lawyer.


The association did persuade a judge to issue an eviction order for McCarn's tenant and order a receiver appointed to manage the property.

In Solomon's view, that doesn't make it right — or legal. It's more a measure of how complicated the housing bust has grown.

"Judges rely on what rights attorneys tell them their clients are afforded under the law," Solomon said. "If there's no attorney on the other side to argue that it's wrong, the judge most often takes the word of the attorney and grants the motion. Plus, these judges hearing these cases usually are not experts in real estate law."

So, even while the eviction itself may be legal because McCarn hadn't paid the lien. Solomon said this is not grounds to change locks or move in a new tenant. The Tribune states McCarn will be taking this case to court.

This story has been updated since its original posting. We referenced the Tampa Bay Tribune but it is in fact called the Tampa Tribune. 

[H/T Blaze reader Susan H.]

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