Residents in Orlando community fear losing homes in HOA battle

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ORLANDO, Fla. - It’s being called a homeowners association headache.

Several Orlando homeowners could lose their largest investment after being told to stop paying their association dues.

At least six people in the Vista Lago community have liens on their homes.

Last year, a company called One GMA took over the debt owned by more than 100 homeowners.

Many stopped paying when they saw a sign at the front of the community, telling them someone hijacked the HOA account.

Now, they could lose their homes.

“I don’t want to lose my home. I don’t want to be homeless,” said Natasha Hewitt.

Hewitt always pays her mortgage, but a few years back, confusion with her HOA prompted her to stop making the $66 a month payment to Vista Lago.

“It’s just a confusing process. I’ve sent out several letters, just unsure of who our HOA is and whom to pay,” she said.

She’s not the only one that didn’t know who to pay. Warnings were sent to residents about the HOA president conflict, with letters that said One GMA, the company now collecting, had been fired.

The HOA’s website names Merle Wills as the president.

But the lawsuit filed by One GMA, who she hired, suggests she may have been illegally collecting HOA money.

Wills didn’t answer when Channel 9’s Janine Reyes stopped by her home.  

A lawsuit lists 145 homeowners all in the red with the HOA.

But not everyone stopped paying. Some who had check stubs also had liens on their homes.

“Some people do owe it, but some people have been paying, and now they’re afraid to continue paying and lose their home, even though they have been paying,” said Carlos Martin, of the Sanchez law group.

Hewitt said through the years, she’s written letters to different debt collectors, trying to get a clear answer.

Now she and other homeowners are working with Martin, hoping to save their homes.

“I wouldn’t want to lose my home for $66.10,” Martin said.

What’s concerning to Martin is a $3,000 collection fee tacked on to a $200 bill on the One GMA statement.

There is a civil lawsuit between One GMA, who is putting liens on those homes, and Merle Wills, the woman listed as the HOA president.