A Riverview family could soon be kicked out of their home, all because they missed a $150 homeowners association payment.
“This is my life that I worked so hard for, and for them to just come in and take it,” says homeowner Luis Lopez.
10News told you how that $150 payment spiraled into thousands of dollars in fees and fines. Then, the Lopez's HOA sold the family's house out from under them at auction. They’ve been able to remain in it while fighting the sale.
Tuesday, the family had their final day in court begging a judge to let them stay there.
“We all make mistakes, but the unfortunate thing is if it does go in their favor, we're going to lose our home. We're going to lose our home, and I don't want to lose my home,” says Tina Lopez.
Tina and Luis Lopez and their two kids have called the Riverview house a home for 12 years, but this could be the last. Their future is now in the hands of Hillsborough County Judge Joelle Ober, after they pleaded with her to stop the auction sale of their home.
“This all started with just a $150 payment that they said they never received,” says Luis Lopez.
The family says the Rivercrest HOA didn't notify them of the missed payment for four years, and attorney and late fees skyrocketed the total to more than $4,000.
The family agreed to a payment plan, but say they stopped amid confusion after the HOA's law firm, Bush Ross, got sued in a class action lawsuit.
When the family got a $300 settlement check, they thought they were off the hook.
“It's very rare you deal with a class action in the middle of a settlement negotiation. I do think there is some hope. But I think it's an uphill battle,” says attorney Betty Thomas.
Bush Ross argues that the family stopped payments before the class action even settled. The firm says as part of the Lopez’s repayment agreement, they knew if they didn't pay up they faced foreclosure.
The HOA sold the $270,000 home for just $18,000 in May 2015. The family got just $14,000.
“Frankly, we communicated to them that they defaulted, and asked for them to cure it. They did not, so the association went forward with this rightful remedy,” says Bush Ross attorney Charles Glausier.
“We made mistakes. They made mistakes, but just because of that we shouldn't have to lose our home,” says Tina Lopez.
Adding to their heartbreak, the Lopez's legal firm, Lawyer ASAP (formerly KEL), pawned off their case on another attorney two hours before Tuesday’s hearing. 10News’ calls to that attorney, Matt Englett weren’t returned.
The judge could make a decision as early as next week. Thomas says if the judge sides with the HOA and gives the home to the auction buyer, she should specify how soon the family has to be out. It could be immediately.
10News will stay on top of the story.
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