In Georgia, shared communities have the option to be governed by state regulations that set forth specific policies for the operation of such associations. Established in 1994, the Georgia Property Owners’ Association Act (Act) was developed to grant increased authority to homeowners associations (HOAs). Unlike conventional statutes, each HOA must elect to be governed by the rules under the Act either through ratification by the developer in the declaration of covenants when the governing documents are created or through an amendment by the members of the HOA. Some of the major features of the Act are summarized below.
One of the most significant benefits for HOAs under the Act is the suspension of the requirement to file liens against individual properties for delinquent payments at the county courthouse. The Act authorizes the imposition of an automatic statutory lien on the property without any further action by the Association. These delinquent amounts are owed to the Association and must be paid upon future disposition of the property or the lien remains attached to the property. The priority of the lien obtained by an HOA is an important consideration if the property becomes subject to foreclosure. The Act provides that the HOA has priority over all other liens except for specified parties, including first priority mortgages and mortgages obtained before the declaration was recorded.
The Act stipulates that the seller and buyer of a residence in the HOA are jointly and severally liable for all unpaid assessments due to the HOA. Thus, the current owner of the property would be personally liable for assessments owed prior to the closing and could subsequently bring an independent action against the seller to recover payment. The HOA would typically look to the new owner for payment of past assessments and typically not be a party to this action.
Under the Act, the HOA is permitted to recover the costs associated with collecting late payments. This provision includes reasonable attorney’s fees that are incurred through attempts to recoup assessments.
The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact us at (770) 888-7707 or visit our contact page to schedule a consultation.