Can a HOA Garnish Your Bank Account?

by Michael Wolfe ; Updated July 27, 2017

Home owner's associations, also known as HOAs, are organizations in which members -- usually residents within a planned community -- agree to a set of rules designed to uphold aesthetic and, in some cases, behavioral standards, within a particular community. When a person moves into a community, he may be required to sign an agreement making him a member of the association. This agreement is legally binding and its breach may subject the signer to legal action.

Home Owner's Association Dues

Many HOAs require that members pay regular dues. These dues are designed to allow the HOA to fulfill its goals of maintaining community standards. For example, the dues may be used to perform maintenance or cleaning on community property or to hire security personnel to cut down on crime and vandalism. As part of the HOA agreement, a person is legally required to pay these dues in a timely manner.

Covenants

HOA agreements, sometimes called covenants, have the same legal standing as other contracts, including financial contracts. If a person fails to pay the dues owed according to the terms of the contract, then the person may be sued for breach of contract. If the HOA wins a case against the resident in civil court, it may be awarded damages. If the resident continues to refuse to pay, the HOA may attempt to seize the money by force.

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Garnishment

One option for the HOA in attaining repayment is to garnish the resident's wages. To do this, the HOA will have to petition the judge who ruled for the HOA in the civil case. If the petition is granted, the HOA can present an order of garnishment to the resident's employer. The employer will then be legally required to set aside a percentage of his employee's wages and provide it to the HOA until the debt is paid off.

Account Freezing

In addition to wage garnishment, an HOA can also seek to freeze an individual's bank account. This is done in the same manner in which a garnishment is sought, by petitioning the judge that heard the civil case. If the petition is granted, the HOA can present a freeze order to the resident's bank. The resident's account will then be frozen, and the HOA may be able to take money out of the account in the amount equivalent to the damages awarded to it.

About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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