If you live in a condo, single-family home, or townhome that is part of a common interest development in Louisiana, you are most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments to a condominium association (COA) or homeowners’ association (HOA) to cover the expenses of the community. If you don’t pay, in most cases the COA or HOA can get a lien on your property that could lead to a foreclosure.
Read on to learn more about COA and HOA liens and foreclosures in Louisiana.
Louisiana COA and HOA Lien Laws
The Louisiana Condominium Act (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 9:1121.101 through 9:1124.115) governs COA activities in Louisiana, while the Louisiana Homeowners Association Act (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 9:1141.1 through 9:1148) governs HOAs.
The specific rules regarding the operation of your particular COA or HOA can be found in the association’s governing documents, such as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) or Declaration of Condominium. (Find out more about what's in an association’s governing documents in Nolo’s article Before Buying: How to Read the CC&Rs or Homeowners' Association (HOA) Documents.)
How COA and HOA Liens Work
Almost all COAs and HOAs have the power to place a lien on the property if the homeowner becomes delinquent in paying the monthly dues and/or any one-time special assessments, which are often collectively referred to as “assessments.”
In Louisiana, a COA or HOA has what is called a “privilege” (an assessments lien) if the owner fails to pay the assessments. To be preserved, the COA or HOA must record a “claim of privilege” in the mortgage records in the parish in which the property is located (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(A)(2), § 9:1146).
Notice of the Lien
A COA must provide seven days notice to the owner before filing the claim of privilege. Notice must be by personal service, or registered or certified mail, and include the date the assessment became delinquent or accelerated (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(A)(3)).
For HOAs, there is no notice requirement prior to filing the lien. However, the HOA must serve the delinquent owner with a sworn detailed statement of the claim (by certified mail, registered mail, or personal delivery) at the same time the lien is filed (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1146).
Charges the COA or HOA May Include in the Lien
A COA or HOA in Louisiana is permitted to include the following charges in its lien:
- unpaid assessments
- any fines or late fees in excess of $250 (COAs only)
- reasonable attorney’s fees, and
- interest (at the rate provided in the declaration or, if the declaration does not include a rate, at the legal interest rate) (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(A)(1), § 9:1145).
Further, if a condo unit owner fails to timely pay the assessments for a period of three months or more during any eight-month period (and the COA provides notice to the owner as required), the COA may accelerate one year of condo fees in advance and file a privilege for this amount (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(A)).
A COA’s assessments lien is prior to all other liens and encumbrances, except for:
- privileges, mortgages, and encumbrances recorded before the recordation of the declaration
- privileges, mortgages, and encumbrances on the unit recorded before the recordation of the assessments lien
- property taxes, and
- governmental assessments in which the unit is specifically described (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(C)).
HOA liens in Louisiana are prioritized based on the date of recordation (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1148). (Learn about lien priority and what happens to a first mortgage in an HOA foreclosure in What happens to my mortgages if the HOA forecloses on its lien?)
COA and HOA Foreclosures in Louisiana
If you default on your COA or HOA assessments, the association can foreclose. A common misconception is that the association cannot foreclose if you are current with your mortgage payments. However, the association’s right to foreclose has nothing to do with whether you are current on your mortgage payments. (Learn more about HOA liens and foreclosure.)
Statute of Limitations
A COA privilege is extinguished if a notice of filing a lawsuit is not recorded within one year after recording the privilege (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1123.115(B)). (This is called the statute of limitations.) An HOA must initiate an action to enforce the lien within five years after recording the privilege (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:1147).
What to Do if You Are Facing Foreclosure by a COA or HOA in Louisiana
If you are facing a COA or HOA foreclosure, you should consult with an attorney licensed in Louisiana 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.)