Navy Veteran Reed Herman purchased a home in the Preserve West Townhome development in St. Michael, Minnesota back in 2017. In 2018, he asked if it was ok to put in an inground flag pole so he could fly his American flag. No one got back to him after several attempts, so he installed it. After being threatened with a $50 per day fine, he eventually took it down. Now, in 2020, the HOA foreclosed on his property and will sell it at auction on October 7, citing a little over $6,000 they spent on costs. His home is worth over $300,000.
Herman was a US Navy corpsman for 12 years, and currently serves as a veteran’s liaison for Wright County Senior Community Services. He also runs a home inspection business.
Can this be legal? HOA foreclosed on his home for a paltry $6,000+
The Preserve West HOA foreclosed on it because they say they must recover their costs – as if those are more important than a veteran’s home. The auction will go to the highest bidder unless the court will stop it.
“Association living, I suppose, is not for everybody. We have a lot of rules, and we sign an agreement to abide by those…You cannot govern by exception. When we make a decision, it’s not just one property, it’s 128 properties.” Joanne Dungan, HOA president.
HOAs are notorious for “having a lot of rules.” And they claim every time that they aren’t against the American flag, it’s only the “pole.” Except that they don’t abide by those rules – other home owners have inground flag poles in the development that have Minnesota Vikings flags. Minnesota law requires the persons be allowed to fly the US flag…but allows HOAs to place restrictions.
The Star Tribune reported,
In June 2018, Herman sent the homeowners association a written notice that he wanted to install a lighted flagpole in his yard to fly a U.S. flag. He didn’t hear back from anyone, Herman said in court documents, so he made several calls to the management company for the development.
Getting no response from the management company, either, Herman installed an illuminated, in-ground flagpole in his yard in late August 2018 and began flying his flag.
Within two weeks, the association’s lawyer sent him a letter demanding that he immediately remove the flagpole. The association said he had failed to provide written plans for the flagpole installation, as required by its rules.
Herman petitioned the association a second time, and later a third time, asking permission for his flagpole, but the association wouldn’t budge.
Finally, in November 2018, he took it down after the association threatened to fine him $50 a day.
After seemingly dying down, the dispute escalated about a year later. In October 2019, the association told Herman that he owed it $3,700 for attorney fees and costs associated with the flagpole dispute. That number continued to rise as interest and additional costs were added.
Herman offered to discuss a settlement or handle the dispute through mediation, according to court documents, but the association refused. On July 16, the association announced that the sheriff’s sale would be held in October, selling Herman’s home on the sheriff’s doorstep to recover $6,656 it claims he owes.
Herman’s attorney has filed for an injunction against the HOA action with the Wright County Court, and seeks release of his title to the house.
Advice: Be careful where you purchase a home and read the fine print carefully before signing on that line.
Featured photo: screenshot via Minnesota Star Tribune