FOX 26 Viewers Help Woman Get Her House Back - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

FOX 26 Viewers Help Woman Get Her House Back

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When we first met Hillary Lamb, the worry and embarrassment were visible on her face.

"I was embarrassed cause people are going to look at it like she's working and she couldn't even pay her bills, but their not knowing the background of the situation," Hillary said.

Hillary, who works full time as a shift manager at Wendy's, got behind in paying her maintenance fees to her homeowners association.

"What had been a minor mistake snowballed into a major catastrophe," attorney Greg Nodler said.

Last December Hillary got all caught up on her maintenance fees but the late payments led to 921 dollars in legal fees she couldn't pay. Then her HOA foreclosed on her home, a home she owned outright.

"The more you’re coming out the more you’re sinking," Hillary said.

By law Hillary had 180 days to reclaim her home but she needed $4,000 - money she didn't have.

That's when FOX 26 viewers stepped in . Nodler an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid set up a fund for viewers who wanted to help.

"We were getting calls from Georgia, we got a check for Hillary from a cancer survivor in Missouri that had been here receiving cancer treatment," Nodler said.

"I'm so happy, I'm so happy to get my house back," Hillary said.

If you donated or just remembered her in your prayers, Hillary couldn't be more grateful.

“I thank God for people that he placed in my path like even you," Hillary said. "Thank you all, God bless you all."

Like Hillary, William Castellon was threatened with losing his southeast side home over legal fees brought against him by his homeowners association.

It all started 3 years ago when William bought the house. Even though he had paperwork showing he paid the $315 maintenance fee at closing, the HOA claimed he didn't.

On the advice of his attorney friend David Tang, William paid it again.

"I said just pay it you don't want to mess with them too much you want to try to start off on the right foot so just pay the money and he did he sent a check," Tang said.

But the West Airport Homeowner's Association sent William his check back.

"And then the next letter I get is not from the HOA, it's from their lawyer," William said.

Now William is told he owes $500 in legal fees. According to court documents, William's request to see the HOA’s financial records was ignored.

"Rather than returning phone calls they just sued him and sought to foreclose on his home," Tang said.

So William countersued his HOA.

Following a 2-day trial last fall, a jury ruled unanimously in William's favor awarding him over $40,000.

"I think somewhere, it became personal," Tang said.

Last month, the HOA posted an appeal bond and hired an appellate specialist in hopes of reversing the jury's decision.

FOX 26 Investigates contacted the HOA's law firm for comment. Our calls weren't returned.

David Tang said so far the West Airport Homeowners Association has spent over $75,000 in legal fees fighting William.

"I've never seen a situation where a litigant spent that much money going after $315. I've never seen it," Tang said.

William was lucky. He had a good friend that happened to be an attorney that was willing to help.

Hillary was lucky too. FOX 26 viewers came to her rescue.

But most homeowners who find themselves facing mounting legal fees brought against them by their HOA aren't as lucky.

They end up losing their homes.

"There are tons of people just like Hillary that don't have news stories being written about them. They don't have strangers from all over the country sending them checks to help save their home," Nodler said.

Want to help those people and maybe even yourself too?

If you don't think HOA's should have the legal right to take someone's home based on unpaid legal fees, contact your state representative about changing state law.

Read More (non-mobile):
> Viewers Want to Help Woman Trying to Get Home Back
> Home Owners Association Takes Home Over Legal Fees

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