If you live in a house, townhome, or condominium that is part of a common interest community in Connecticut, you are most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments to a homeowners’ association (HOA) If you don’t pay, in most cases the HOA can get a lien on your property that could lead to a foreclosure.
Read on to learn more about HOA foreclosures in Connecticut.
HOA Lien Laws in Connecticut
The Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 47-200 through 47-299) governs common interest communities in Connecticut, including homes in planned communities and condominiums created after January 1, 1984. (The majority of the CIOA provisions apply to condominiums created before this date as well.)
How HOA Liens Work
Almost all HOAs are entitled to a lien on your property if you fall behind in paying the monthly dues and/or any special assessments (collectively referred to as “assessments”). Once you become delinquent on the assessments, usually a lien will automatically attach to your property.
In Connecticut, the HOA is entitled to a lien for any assessments attributable to the particular unit or fines imposed against its owner. If an assessment is payable in installments, the HOA has a lien for the full amount from the time the first installment becomes due (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(a)).
The recording of the HOA instruments that create the common interest community (such as a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, which is often referred to as the CC&Rs) constitutes record notice and perfection of the lien. No further recording of the claim of lien for assessments is required (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(d)). (In some states, the HOA must record the lien.)
Charges the HOA May Include in the Lien
Connecticut law sets out the types of charges that the HOA may include in the assessments lien (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(a)).
- Assessments. Of course, the HOA can include amounts for unpaid assessments in the lien.
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The HOA may also include reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the total lien amount.
- Late charges. Late charges may be included in the assessments lien.
- Fines. The association may include reasonable fines for violations of the declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations of the association. (For example, failing to mow your lawn, leaving your trash cans outside, or leaving your garage door up all the time can result in fines.)
- Interest. The HOA may also charge interest on the past-due common assessments at the rate set by the association, but it cannot be more than 18% per year (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-257(b)).
- Other fees and charges. The association may also impose certain other fees and charges, such as charges for preparing and recording amendments to the declaration.
HOA Lien Priority in Connecticut
An HOA’s lien is prior to all other liens, except for:
- liens recorded before the declaration is recorded
- liens for real estate taxes (and other government charges), and
- a first or second mortgage that was recorded before the date on which the assessment sought to be enforced became delinquent (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(b)). (Learn more about lien priority and what happens to a first mortgage in an association foreclosure in Nolo’s article What happens to my mortgages if the HOA forecloses on its lien?)
HOA Super Liens
HOA liens for delinquent assessments sometimes have priority over a lender’s mortgage. This is called a super lien. In Connecticut, an HOA is entitled to a super lien over a first and second mortgage in an amount equal to:
- six months worth of delinquent common expense assessments. and
- the association’s costs and attorney’s fees in enforcing its lien (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(b)). (Learn more about the priority of super liens in Nolo’s article Homeowners’ Association Super Liens.)
HOA Foreclosures in Connecticut
If you default on the assessments, the HOA can foreclose. A common misconception is that the association cannot foreclose if you are current with your mortgage payments. However, the HOA’s right to foreclose has nothing to do with whether you are current on your mortgage payments. (Learn more about HOA liens and foreclosure.)
In Connecticut, the HOA lien may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(j)). (Learn more about foreclosure laws and procedures in Connecticut.)
HOA Foreclosure Limitations
Connecticut law limits the HOA’s ability to foreclosure in certain circumstances. The HOA cannot bring an action to foreclose unless:
- the delinquent amount is equal to at least two months of common expense assessments
- the HOA has made a demand for payment, and
- the HOA executive board has either voted to commence a foreclosure action specifically against that unit or has adopted a standard policy that provides for foreclosure against that unit (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(m)).
Statute of Limitations
In Connecticut, the HOA must initiate an action to enforce the lien within three years after the full amount of the assessment becomes due (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(e)). This is called the statute of limitations.
If the homeowner files bankruptcy, the statute of limitations is tolled (suspended) until 30 days after the automatic stay is lifted. (Learn more about the automatic stay in Nolo’s article Bankruptcy's Automatic Stay and Foreclosure.)
Requesting a Statement of Assessments Due
If you make a written request to the HOA, the association must provide you with a written statement of the amount of unpaid assessments due within ten days after receiving your request (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-258(h)).
What to Do if You Are Facing Foreclosure by an HOA in Connecticut
If you are facing an HOA foreclosure, you should consult with an attorney licensed in Connecticut to discuss all legal options available in your particular circumstances. (See our HOA Foreclosure topic page for articles on HOAs, possible options to catch up if you are delinquent in payments, how bankruptcy can help discharge dues, HOA super liens, and more.)