If you live in a planned development, you’re probably part of a condominium owners’ association (COA) or homeowners' association (HOA). The COA or HOA is typically a nonprofit corporation that's responsible for managing and maintaining the community. The association has a lot of power over the residences and homeowners in a planned community. It creates and enforces the rules of the community, as well as determines how much members have to pay in dues and assessments (collectively referred to as “assessments”). If you fall behind in your assessments, in most cases, the COA or HOA can get a lien on your home that could lead to a foreclosure.
Read on to learn about COA and HOA foreclosure 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.
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. Also, the policies regarding the operation of the HOA, including those regarding assessments liens, can be found in the association’s governing documents, like the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.
In most cases, a COA or HOA has the power to place a lien on your property if you become delinquent in paying the 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)). So, the COA doesn't have to record a claim of lien in order for it to be effective. (In some states, though, a COA has to record its lien.)
If you’re part of an HOA in Missouri, check the association’s governing documents to learn about the association’s right to get a lien on your home if you don’t pay the assessments.
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:
To find out which charges a Missouri HOA may include in its lien, check the association's governing documents, like the CC&Rs.
Lien priority determines what happens to other liens, mortgages, and lines of credit if a COA or HOA 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 generally prior to all other liens. But certain other liens, including the following, have priority over a COA lien:
To find out the priority of an HOA lien in Missouri, read the association’s governing documents.
Under certain circumstances, a COA or HOA lien has priority over a lender’s first mortgage or deed of trust. This type of lien 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)).
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)).
If you default on the assessments, the COA or HOA may foreclose. A common misconception is that the association can’t foreclose if you’re current with your mortgage payments. But the association’s right to foreclose has nothing to do with whether you’re current on your home loan.
In Missouri, the COA’s lien may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage on real estate 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 about 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.
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)).
If you’re behind in assessments and facing a COA or HOA foreclosure, consider consulting with an attorney licensed in Missouri to discuss all legal options available in your particular circumstances.