Seeking to avoid hearing about the situation in Iraq, May stopped watching the news. She rarely answered the door, and Michael says he couldn't tell her when he went "outside the wire"—off-base. May also stopped opening the mail. "I guess she was scared that she would hear bad news," says Michael. That was why she missed multiple notices from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association informing her that the family owed $800 in dues—and then subsequent notices stating that the HOA was preparing to foreclose on the debt and seize the home.
In Texas, homeowners' associations can foreclose on homes without a court order, no matter the size of the debt. In May 2008, the HOA sold the Clauers' home for a pittance—$3,500—although its appraisal value was $300,000, according to court documents. The buyer then resold the house to a third person. (Select Management Co., the company that manages Heritage Lakes, declined to comment for this story.)
Homeowners associations and Texas, two things of dubious merit that when combined are even worse. The actions of the HOA seems particularly strange in this case; the (former) homeowners says other homeowners were notified in person when they were in arrears, but that no one from the HOA ever contacted them other than by mail. And then there was the filing of the false affidavit by the HOA's lawyer. Makes me wonder if the HOA was making a particular effort to get rid of this family for some reason. (Of course, the homeowner is more than a little at fault here; not opening the mail was a pretty dumb thing to do.)