Riverview family wins foreclosure battle with HOA

A Riverview family gets to keep its house after being threatened over a late HOA payment.

A Riverview family has won a yearlong fight with their HOA to save their home from foreclosure.

10News has been following the Lopez family's emotional battle, after their Riverview HOA foreclosed on their home, all over a missed $150 homeowners association payment.  In May, a judge told the family they’d have to pack up and get out.  But the Rivercrest Community Association’s attorney agreed to a deal.  Now, The Lopez’s can stay put in the place they’ve called home for more than a decade.

As part of the agreement, the family can no longer talk with the media. They’ve had plenty to say through the painful process.

“They were trying to take our house.  We've worked so hard to keep a roof over them and have something nice.  It’s just so wrong,” Luis Lopez said through tears.

There have been so many tears over the past year.  “This is my home. This is where I grew up,” says the Lopez’s daughter, Jessica.

“I don't want to lose my home,” Tina Lopez said heading into a court hearing.

There have been fears and frustrations through the bitter court battle with the Rivercrest Community Association to keep their home.  “This all started with just $150 payment that they said they never received,” Luis Lopez told a judge.

Luis and Tina say they sent a check, but weren't notified of the missed 2009 annual dues for four years.  In the meantime, the $150 dollars skyrocketed to $4,587.28 in late and attorney's fees.  Then, last year the HOA suddenly sold the home in a foreclosure auction.

“Frankly, we communicated to them that they defaulted and asked them to cure. They did not,” Bush Ross HOA Attorney Charles Glausier told a judge.

The HOA argued the family was notified, had missed payments, made partial payments, and agreed to a “liberal” 18-month repayment plan, then didn't follow through as promised.

Earlier this year, a judge sided with the HOA and the Lopez's started packing.

Not wanting to see the family forced out, 10News Reporter Kendra Conlon connected the family with foreclosure defense attorney Ryan Torrens.  “Where there's a Tina and Luis Lopez, there are thousands of others,” Torrens said after a mediation meeting with the HOA.

It was uncovered that the judge who upheld the foreclosure didn't have the authority to do that, because the HOA never filed the Lopez's repayment plan with the court.

The HOA agreed to toss out the foreclosure sale, if the family will pay $3,500, half the amount that now 8 years later has grown to $7,048.72.

“They're really sending a message to the community that legal reforms need to happen to change the laws of the state,” Torrens said.

A press release from the HOA and family says they're pleased to reach a settlement, but the Lopezes won't be making additional comments.

On Facebook, Tina thanks supporters for the prayers and good vibes that have been sent their way and are working on projects to update the place they'll now continue to call home.

“It's not the house that makes the home, it's the family that makes the home,” Tina Lopez said.

The Lopez family has until next Friday to make the payment.  Apparently, the check’s in the mail.

Other homeowners have reached out to 10News since the original story aired with complaints about their HOA, both in Riverview and around the Bay area.

Torrens tells 10News that there need to be changes to laws requiring HOAs to notify homeowners right away of a missed payment, not just when a lien has been put on their home.  He also believes there needs to be an advocacy group and a voice for homeowners, much like the HOAs have lobbyists and feels Tina and Luis Lopez are the perfect people to head up that fight.

To be transparent, just last week Torrens announced he's running for Florida attorney general.  10News has been talking with him about this case as the Lopez's representative.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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