In a tough housing market, many people are underwater on their homes.
But it’s also possible to owe nothing to the bank and lose your home anyway, as a North Miami-Dade condominium owner found out.
Christy, a woman who lived at the Jade Winds condo complex in North Miami Beach, said she owned her place outright and pad the condo fees automatically, but ended up getting kicked out over a $200 monthly assessment.
Christy, who only wanted her first name published, said her trouble started when she was attacked one night outside her complex at the security gate, with an assailant “strangling me with one hand and the hand put the gun to my head.”
She took leave from her job and stayed on the Gulf Coast, and the condo association placed a $200 monthly assessment for balcony work. She contested it, ended up getting a $2,000 bill, and ultimately the association sued her, moving to take her condo, she said.
“The police said to me get your purse and get out of here, otherwise we are going to arrest you,” she said, reliving being removed from her home.
Christy maintains that she new saw any of the papers filed with the court. When she did not respond, the judge awarded her condo to the association.
“I said what do you mean it doesn’t belong to me? It does belong to me,” she said.
The Jade Winds Condominium Association did not return NBC Miami’s calls for two weeks. Their attorney, reached Tuesday afternoon, had no comment.
Attorney Ben Solomon of the Association Law Group said it is unlikely that anything can be done to return Christy to her condo.
“Unfortunately, a lot of owners don’t realize that their obligation to pay assessments is similar to their obligation to pay a mortgage,” he said.
Solomon says that technically everything in the foreclosure was done correctly. But he has never seen a homeowner lose their home for such a small amount, he adds.
“People who have full equity in their homes are typically able to take out a small loan to pay the assessment,” he said.
Investigate any whiff of legal action against you, Solomon advises homeowners.
“You have the opportunity to answer. You have the opportunity to appear before a judge, and you have to pursue those opportunities to defend yourself properly,” Solomon said.