First District Court of Appeals rules in favor of homeowners' association in fee dispute

By Erianne Leatherman | Oct 30, 2018

HOUSTON – An appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s ruling in a case involving a lawsuit filed by a homeowners’ association against a homeowner for past-due HOA fees.

Justice Harvey Brown of the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas affirmed the 240th District Court of Fort Bend County's ruling Oct. 2.

“We hold that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment,” the filing said. "'We recognize the harshness of the remedy of foreclosure, particularly when such a small sum is compared with the immeasurable value of a homestead.' ... But 'we are bound to enforce the agreements into which [Achobe] entered concerning the payment of  assessments.' ... We overrule Achobe’s sole issue.” 

According to the Oct. 2 filing in the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas, Isaac Achobe owns a home in a subdivision overseen by North Mission Glen Estate Homeowner Association Inc. The HOA requires that homeowners pay an annual maintenance fee and a lien on each lot secures that assessment, but Achobe allegedly declined to pay his fees. The HOA sued Achobe in 2013, alleging he owed past-due assessment fees and related charges. He paid his dues, the ruling states.

After the 2013 lawsuit was settled, Achobe accrued additional fees on his account and the HOA sued him again in 2016. The ruling states the HOA informed Achobe via letters that he owed assessments and charges, which accrued to form a past-due balance. Achobe attempted to pay make a partial payment on the balance, but that was rejected by the HOA since he did not have a formal payment plan in place.

The current lawsuit sought to collect on the past-due balance, including assessments and charges, as well as put a lien on Achobe’s home to satisfy the $4,382.69 he owed in fees. A traditional motion for summary judgment was filed by the HOA in July 2017, supported by an affidavit of Shannon Nogradi, the HOA’s managing agent and records custodian.

The affidavit included the declaration, deed to Achobe’s house, the demand letters the HOA sent him before the suit, and Achobe’s deemed admissions, according to the filing.  A hearing was scheduled for September 2017, but Achobe filed an extension to prepare for it better, but court did not rule on the request. He was absent from the hearing.

At the hearing, the HOA’s motion was granted, money damages were granted, a lien was ordered to foreclose on Achobe’s home. He appealed this ruling.

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