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$288 in unpaid fees, homeowner association took her home

$288 in unpaid fees, homeowner association took her home

Foreclosure by homeowner associations over missed fees becoming more common since recession has emptied neighborhoods.

For six years, Ingrid Boak, who travels a lot for work as a racehorse trainer, ignored mail from her homeowner association.

Boak, of Lexington, Kentucky, says the letters were requests for $48 in annual fees for upkeep of the tidy neighborhood of one-story brick homes. Because she didn’t use the clubhouse or pool, or participate in social activities sponsored by the association, she didn’t think she needed to pay. Last September, while she was away, a neighbor called to tell her about a handwritten sign tacked to her front door. It said her house had been sold.

Masterson Station Neighborhood Association had foreclosed on her $120,000 home because she had $288 in unpaid dues, according to the association’s lawyer, Nathan Billings. Boak was sent nearly 30 notices before her property was foreclosed on, he said; the dues were mandatory association fees.

Boak says she does not remember seeing a foreclosure notice, and no one served her papers in person. She likens the experience to her father’s in East Germany, where the communist state took away property rights. “Now I’m 75, and the same thing is happening to me, in America,” she says. With her once-good credit damaged, she is unable to buy another house, and now rents her old one from the new owner for $900 a month.

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