A Hillsborough County judge handed down a heartbreaking decision for a Riverview family. The Lopezes are being forced from their home by foreclosure, all because of a $150 missed homeowners’ association payment.
“This is my home and where I grew up. This is where God put me,” said 8-year-old Jessica Lopez through tears.
Her parents, Tina and Luis Lopez, tried to comfort their daughter. The house, in the Rivercrest subdivision is the only home she’s ever known.
“It’ll be okay, honey,” said her mother.
It's tough for an 8-year-old to grasp how a $150 dollar HOA fee - which the family thought they paid in 2009 - snowballed into more than $4,000 in late payments and attorney's fees.
“In fine print, they say we don't have to notify you if you're late - a year later, two years later, that's your fault,” said Luis Lopez.
Now, they're packing up the family memories after the county judge sided with the HOA to foreclose on the place the family has called home for 11 years (the judge's order is provided below).
“You want to live the American dream. You do it, and then a company comes in to take it away from you, that's not the American way,” said Tina Lopez.
The family pleaded with a judge last month to stop the auction sale of their $270,000 home for just $18,000.
The family argues they weren't properly notified of the sale. The judge denied it, saying that the family breached their repayment plan, and in doing so should've known foreclosure was the next step.
The family’s wrapping up what they call a years-long HOA nightmare.
“It's not the house that makes a home, it's the family who is in it that makes the home,” said Tina Lopez.
How fast they'll have to move is now up to the third-party buyer to request the court to set a date and force out the family.
Tampa foreclosure defense attorney Ryan Torrens tells 10News that the family does have the option to appeal and ask to remain in the home in the meantime.
The Lopezes are now calling on legislators to change laws to better protect homeowners.