TEXAS – Houston condo owners sued their board after foreclosures, a big assessment, and other issues. But state law gives them few options.
By Olivia P. Tallet
August 10, 2019
The letter literally took her breath away.“Notice of foreclosure sale,” Aurora St. Andrassy read as a friend drove her home from work in August 2016. The letter informed her that her home in the Sugar Branch Condominiums in southwest Houston would be sold at auction due to about $11,000 she owed to the homeowners association.“I felt a block of rocks fell on my head, my heart pounding,” recalls St. Andrassy, now 85. “I could hardly breathe. I had to be helped, almost carried, from the car to my doorstep.”St. Andrassy’s debt was based on missed monthly maintenance payments .
She is among over 30 former and current Sugar Branch property owners who sued the Sugar Branch Condominium Association in state district court. The plaintiffs allege that the association’s board members are committing fraud and conspiring to drive homeowners into foreclosure by assessing excessive, arbitrary fees so they can buy the units for themselves at below-market prices.
A group that acquired control of the association board in April 2016 — an attorney, her father, her brother and her boyfriend — has purchased more than half of the development’s 180 units, buying many at bargain prices in foreclosure auctions the board members initiated, a Houston Chronicle review of public documents shows. These board members say the acquisitions have given them enough votes to push through a “special assessment” totaling $450,000 for the community, much of which was earmarked for board members for various services. Read more: