If you live in a condominium, single-family house, or townhome that’s part of a common-interest development in New Hampshire, you’re most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments (collectively called "assessments" in this article) to a condominium owners' association (COA) or homeowners' association (HOA).
If you fall behind in payments, 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 New Hampshire’s COA and HOA lien laws and foreclosure statutes.
The Condominium Act (Chapter 356-B of the New Hampshire Statutes) governs most COAs in New Hampshire.
HOAs in New Hampshire are often incorporated as nonprofit corporations and are subject to the laws that govern such corporations. Also, you can find the policies regarding the operation of the HOA in the association’s governing documents, like the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.
Generally, a COA or HOA has the power to place a lien on your property if you become delinquent in paying the assessments.
In New Hampshire, a COA is entitled to a lien on a condominium unit for unpaid assessments. The COA must perfect its lien (make it effective) by recording a memorandum in the county records within six months after the assessment becomes due. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:46(III)).
If you’re part of an HOA, check the association’s governing documents to learn about the HOA’s right to place a lien on your home if you fall behind in the assessments.
New Hampshire law provides that once a COA lien is perfected it is prior to all other liens, except for:
Under certain circumstances, a lien for delinquent assessments has priority over even a lender’s first mortgage or deed of trust. This type of lien is called a “super lien.”
In New Hampshire, six months’ worth of delinquent common assessments, plus attorneys’ fees and collection costs, have super-lien status over first mortgages recorded on or after January 1, 2011—so long as the association sends notice to the condo owner and the lender. The association must send the notice delinquency by certified mail and first class mail within 70 days of the deliniquency. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:46(I)(c)).
To find out the priority of an HOA lien, check the association’s governing documents.
If you make a written request to the COA, the association must provide you with a statement of the amount due within ten business days after receiving the request. If the COA doesn’t provide the statement within this time period, the lien is extinguished (eliminated). A COA is permitted to charge up to $10 for providing the statement. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:46(VIII)).
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 mortgage payments.
A COA must initiate its action to enforce the lien, like by starting a foreclosure, within six years after the lien memorandum is recorded. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:46(IV)).
To learn about an HOA’s right to foreclose on your home if you fall behind in paying the assessments, read the association’s governing documents.
If you’re behind in assessments and facing a COA or HOA foreclosure in New Hampshire, consider consulting with a local attorney to discuss all legal options available in your particular circumstances.