When a Tampa Bay, FL area family missed a $150 homeowner association payment and the ensuing late fees, a lien was placed on their property and it was sold at public auction. And there wasn't anything illegal about it. Associations can levy fines and late fees if dues aren't paid on time. 

The kicker is that, per a recent newspaper article, the family had a canceled check as proof of payment but their $270,000 home was still sold at public auction for $19,000. Thanks to some well-timed media attention, the association's attorney agreed to mediate and canceled the sale. Meanwhile, the family has agreed to pay a settlement over the course of 18 months. 

Could this mess have been avoided?

"Absolutely," said Matt DeWolf, FRONTSTEPS VP of Product. "Technology can create visibility and an audit trail for both the homeowner AND the association." 

For example, a resident's entire dues payment schedule can be streamlined so everyone both residents and associations are aware of their individual financial obligations. And whenever a payment, or a notice is posted, the system can instantly update the audit trail for both parties. With such transparency, there is less room for miscommunication.

Technology isn't just a stick that keeps people in line. It can also be used as a carrot to encourage a greater sense of community and involvement. For example, embracing technology could bring residents closer together and feel more connected with the broader community. When this happens, the entire community begins to flourish, property values go up and everyone wins. 

Ultimately, the HOA and/or the property management company has a fiduciary responsibility to support their community and keep people in their homes. Because, said DeWolf, "the home is most likely the biggest investment most people will ever make in their entire life."

So, if you're a property management company, or a volunteer HOA board member, what's your technology strategy? What are you doing to ensure your residents are paying their dues and truly thriving by using modern technology?

Read the entire story in the Tampa Bay Times

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