This case involved a non-payment that ended in a lien. It involved a dispute between a homeowner (Owner) and her homeowners association (Association) over an unpaid annual assessment in the amount of $150.00 plus a $30 late fee and $70.90 in accrued interest totaling $250.90. Ultimately, it resulted in Association filing a lien on Owners property for non-payment of the assessment and the right to foreclose that lien.

Owner challenged the Association rather than make payment of the amount owed to the Association. In response to Associations efforts to collect the unpaid assessment by filing a lien on Owners property and a court action to foreclose on the lien, Owner filed a counterclaim against Association asserting a claim for damages for slander of title to her property.

Trial Court Ruling: The trial court ruled in favor of Association and entered an order for foreclosure of the lien on Owners property based on a money judgment for the $250.90 in damages, plus an award of $20,000 for reasonable attorney fees and statutory costs. Owner, maintaining her position that Associations lien on her property was fraudulent, filed an appeal of the trial courts judgment.

Appellate Court Ruling: The appellate court found that the $250.90 was owed and, beyond the unpaid dues, Associations Declaration authorizes Association to seek a recovery of court costs, attorneys fees, and other fees and expenses. In affirming the trial courts judgment for foreclosure of Associations lien on Owners property, the appellate court also ruled that the award of $20,000 when the amount of the damages was $250.90 was reasonable in the context of the case where Owner chose to vigorously fight Association for nineteen months and took actions that Association had to respond to which created most of the expense.

Wisconsin Appellate Court decision (April 24, 2019).

See case decision: Kilbourn_Woods_Homeowners_Ass’n_v._Brooks