Homeowners associations (HOAs) are bound to provide notice of delinquency of HOA fees to homeowners and condominium owners before taking legal action to collect or placing a lien on the property. Many homeowners try to claim they never received proper notice from the HOA. Fortunately for the HOAs, they have the mailbox rule on their side.
The mailbox rule is followed by many states, including Missouri, and it states that when a mailing has the proper address on it and it is placed in the mail with proper postage, a presumption is created that the addressee properly received the mailing. So, if an HOA correctly addresses a notice of delinquency or notice of lien to a homeowner and places it in the mail with proper postage, there is a presumption under the law that the homeowner received the notice.
In spite of the mailbox rule, there are some other things that an HOA should do to be able to rebut homeowners’ contentions that they did not receive proper notice:
- Maintain proper records of homeowners’ mailing addresses and frequently update the database
- Comply with all HOA mailing requirements. For instance, if the HOA’s rules require notice to be given by certified mail, it’s important to send the notices by certified mail. However, the HOA should be aware that while certified mail can help prove the mailing date, homeowners often refuse to accept the certified mailing. If the certified letter is rejected by the homeowner, the HOA should also send out the notice by regular mail as well to keep the mailbox rule presumption in play
- Keep a copy of all notices that were sent to each homeowner. If a lawsuit has not yet been filed, sometimes simply providing the homeowner with copies of the notices helps them realize their error and make proper payments to avoid litigation
HOAs should keep clear records and accurately record payments as they are made. Failure to implement clear recordkeeping policies can be costly to the HOA and sometimes can wind up costing the HOA more than the homeowner fees they were attempting to recover. Our experienced Kansas City real estate attorneys can help provide your HOA with up-to-date legal advice and help recover all fees and assessments that are due. Contact us today.