Soldier, Back From Iraq, Finds Homeowners Association Sold His House

Association says it didn't know husband was in the military.

ByABC News
June 14, 2010, 1:06 PM

June 15, 2010 — -- It should have been a happy summer for Michael Clauer. The Texas Army National Guard captain was winding down his time in Iraq, preparing for a new unit to arrive and replace him and the 130 service members under his command.

But a phone call in June 2009 left him so shaken that a colleague suggested he seek psychiatric help: his wife, her voice choked with tears, told him that their homeowners association had foreclosed on and sold their Frisco, Texas house -- which the Clauers say is valued at more than $300,000 -- for $3,200, according to county land records.

"I couldn't believe it," Clauer, 37, said. "I didn't understand how anybody could do that."

The Heritage Lake Homeowners Association, as Clauer would come to learn, had exercised its rights under Texas law to sell the home after the Clauers fell behind on their association dues by about $800. Now, Clauer and his wife May are suing the homeowners association, the investors who bought the home at foreclosure and sold it, and the home's current owner.

The Clauers, who reached an agreement with the current owner to continue to live in the home with their two young daughters until their lawsuit is resolved, either want to get their house back or be paid damages by the people they're suing. They'd prefer, of course, the former.

"We want it back the way it was," Clauer said.

The case, which was first reported by ABC affiliate WFAA and has gotten increasing attention in recent weeks, has made the Heritage Lake Homeowners Association an object of public scorn, with some association employees and board members receiving threatening phone calls and e-mails, an association spokesman said.

The spokesman, who asked not to be identified for fear of also becoming a target of threats, told that the association hopes the Clauers succeed in getting their house back. But it's not up to them to return ownership of the home to the Clauers, he said, because they don't own it.

At the time of the foreclosure, he said, the association hadn't been informed that Clauer was serving with the military.

"We would be thrilled if he got his house back," he said, but, "at this point, it's going to take the courts to do that."