by: Allison Latos Updated:
MINT HILL, N.C. - Brian and Lori Phelps are finally at peace in their Mint Hill home.
They didn't know a 2009 move from California to the St. Ives neighborhood would end in a big court battle.
Brian Phelps said the HOA started charging them with violations when they planned to build a patio. After 14 violations, fines and even a lien on their house, the Phelps got a lawyer.
“We felt we had no choice," said Brian Phelps. "The gun was to our head."
They sued St. Ives.
Earlier in July, a judge ordered the HOA insurance company to pay the Phelps $20,000 for attorney fees.
The Phelps said they're one of 4 families to sue the HOA.
Rosanna Wilfong said the group put a lien of more than $500,000 against her, then filed for foreclosure.
"We were living in this house, my children and I, with it full of boxes, just waiting to be served by the sheriff," said Wilfong.
Wilfong said the HOA fined her over drains she installed in her yard.
She won her lawsuit to keep her home, but she's still trying to recoup the costs.
“I lost my car and was not able to purchase another one because all of my money went to paying the lawyers," said Wilfong.
Eyewitness News learned the courts forced St. Ives to elect new board members.
The former president wasn't home to answer questions from Eyewitness News.
The new president, Lou Toffaletti said, "It is the new board's intent to uphold the laws of our HOA while acknowledging homeowner rights, and helping homeowners understand their rights."
The Phelps don't count their win as a true victory. They said they want rogue HOAs to be held responsible.
“Even though you go to court, you fight, and you win, our judge said they cannot be held accountable because they are volunteers," said Phelps.