If you live in a private community development (like a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home) in Missouri, you are most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments to a condominium association (COA) or homeowners’ association (HOA). If you fall behind in payments, the COA or HOA can generally get a lien on your home that could lead to a foreclosure.
Read on to learn about the particular requirements for COA and HOA foreclosures in Missouri.
COA Laws in Missouri
In Missouri, the Uniform Condominium Act (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.1-101 through 448.4-120) applies to condominiums created after September 28, 1993. The provisions discussed in this article also apply to condominiums created before this date.
HOA Laws in Missouri
HOAs in Missouri are often incorporated as nonprofit corporations and are subject to the state statutes that govern such corporations. (Missouri’s Nonprofit Corporation Law can be found in Chapter 355 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.)
In addition, the policies regarding the operation of the HOA, including those regarding assessments liens, can be found in the association’s governing documents, such as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws. (Find out more about what's in your HOA CC&Rs and other relevant documents in Nolo’s article Before Buying: How to Read the CC&Rs or Homeowners' Association (HOA) Documents.)
How COA and HOA Liens Work
In most cases, a COA or HOA has the power to place a lien on your property if you get behind in paying the monthly dues and/or any special assessments (collectively referred to as assessments). Generally, the lien will automatically attach to the home from the time that the assessment comes due.
In Missouri, a COA is entitled to a lien for assessments from the time the assessments are due. If an assessment is payable in installments, the full amount of the assessment is a lien from the time the first installment becomes due (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(1)).
The recording of the condo declaration constitutes record notice of the existence of the lien (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(4)). This means the COA doesn't have to record a claim of lien in order for it to be effective. (In some states, the COA must record the lien.)
If you are part of an HOA in Missouri, check the association’s governing documents to learn about the HOA’s right to get a lien on your home if you don’t pay the assessments.
Charges the COA or HOA May Include in the Lien
State law and the COA or HOA’s governing documents will usually set out the type of charges that may be included in the lien.
In Missouri, unless the declaration provides otherwise, a COA is permitted to include the following charges in its lien:
- past-due assessments
- late charges
- other fees and charges (such as for preparing and recording amendments to the declaration or statements of unpaid assessments)
- fines for violations of the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations of the association (after the COA gives the homeowner notice and an opportunity to be heard), and
- interest (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(1)).
To find out which charges a Missouri HOA may include in its lien, check the association's CC&Rs.
Lien priority determines what happens to other liens, mortgages, and lines of credit if your HOA or COA lien is foreclosed. (To learn more about lien priority and its importance in HOA foreclosures, see What happens to my mortgages if the HOA forecloses on its lien?)
In Missouri, a COA lien is prior to all other liens, except for:
- liens and encumbrances recorded before the COA records its condo declaration
- liens for real estate taxes and other governmental assessments or charges, and
- a mortgage or deed of trust for the purchase of the condo recorded before the date on which the assessment sought to be enforced became delinquent (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(2)).
To find out the priority of an HOA lien in Missouri, read the association’s governing documents.
COA Super Liens
Under certain circumstances, a COA lien for delinquent assessments has priority over a lender’s mortgage. This is called a super lien. In Missouri, six months worth of delinquent common expense assessments or fines have super lien status in some circumstances (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(2)(4)). (Learn more in Nolo’s article Homeowners’ Association Super Liens.)
Requesting a Statement of Assessments Due from a COA
If you make a written request, the COA must provide you with a statement setting forth the amount of unpaid assessments within ten business days after it receives your request (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(8)).
COA and HOA Foreclosures in Missouri
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. If you default on the assessments, the COA or HOA can foreclose. (Learn more about HOA liens and foreclosure.)
In Missouri, the COA’s lien may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage on real estate. This is done by filing a lawsuit in court. It may also be foreclosed by power of sale, which happens outside of court. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(1)). (Learn more about power of sale foreclosures and general foreclosure laws and procedures in Missouri.)
To find out about an HOA’s right to foreclose if you become delinquent in paying the assessments, read the association’s CC&Rs.
Statute of Limitations for COA Liens
A COA must start the foreclosure within three years after the full amount of the assessments becomes due otherwise the lien is extinguished (eliminated) and it loses the right to foreclose (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 448.3-116(5)). This is called the statute of limitations.
What to Do if You Are Facing Foreclosure by an HOA or COA in Missouri
If you are facing an HOA or COA foreclosure, you should consult with an attorney licensed in Missouri 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.)