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Old 09-25-2009, 07:54 PM
11 posts, read 26,948 times
Reputation: 19


Sorry this is long but please be patient as I really need help and have been searching the internet for the past 9 hours for answers and help!!

We helped friends buy a house in McDowell Place. We are on the deed and mortage until they can get their credit cleaned up to buy the house (supposedly only 3 more months to go). They have lived there for over three years happily and without incident until earlier this year.

In April I got a late notice for the HOA dues. For some reason we missed the bill in January. No big deal, I was late so I paid the first and second quarter dues with applicable late fees, along with the remainder of the years fees. So, on may 7th the Management Company cashed a check for $248.00 (4 quarters of payments plus two late charges of $20 each).

Shortly thereafter we discover that the HOA was fining the property because of an unlicensed car in the driveway. We never got the notices that there even was a violation, but as soon as we discoverd the violation, we corrected the issue with the residents in the home. We then called the Mangement Company to apologize for the miscommunication, that we did not mean to appear to be ignoring them, we immediately corrected the problem and was hoping to get the fines removed (They had gotten to $430!). Woman at the Mangement company said not to worry. Whew! Problem averted, so we thought.

Come July we get a certified letter stating that our updaid DUES AND FINES have been referred to an Attorney for Collection. I Immediately call the management company who transfers me to the attorney because they can no longer talk to me. I explained there is a mistake we paid all the dues (have cleared check), and were told not to worry about the fines. Find out that we now are delinquent on $658!!

Attorney says: did you specify the check was for the dues? - NO I never needed to do that in the past, I simply sent a check in for the full years of dues plus the late fees that I rightfully owed and at the time I was not aware of any other charges on our account, so why would I bother to note the check? Attorney asks: Well who did you speak with at the management company? I don't know, a very nice female who I thought was very helpful. Didn't think I would need to audio tape and document everything as I did not expect or anticipate these problems because we are reasonable, fairly easy to work with and take care of our responsibilites. However, I do not have an extra $658 at the moment as we are going through a financial hardship.

Well apparently the mail was being returned to the mangement company, including the certified mail (turns out our resident refused to sign for certified mail not addressed to them - so we discussed the problems this has caused and since July they have been accepting all mail from the HOA and getting it to us.) So the management company and HOA board knows we were not getting any of these notices, and we were not ignoring them on purpose, and a month earlier they got us on the phone to notify us of the violation, which we immediately resolved, so they could have gotten in touch with us if they needed.

In speaking with the attorney I indicate that I am upset it came to this, we were current and should owe nothing. We do not have the ability to pay these fees but I would like to settle to make this go away and do the best I can to come up with something. Attorney asks me to make an offer to take back to the Board. I offer to cover the attorney fees of $218 so the HOA will not have to bear that cost, as the dues for the year were already paid in full, despite the management company not applying them correctly, and my fines had been waived and the rest of the charges are simply random late fees on DUES that were NEVER LATE. The HOA is made whole, no harm no foul. Attorney says she'll take it to the HOA but doesn't think they'll accept it.

Well today it occurs to me that I haven't heard back from the attorney, so I call her to find out what the hold up is and take care of everything to put it behind me. Attorney indicates that the HOA rejected my offer and elected to move forward with foreclosure. We will be served papers and our court date is November 11! Oh yeah, and by the way we now owe $1,492! I am flabergasted. I went from being paid in advance to being delinquent with a lien on my house and owing $658 to being in foreclousre and now owing $1492. How could this happen? How can they do this? This does not seem legal. Does anyone know what my options are?
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:02 PM
2,340 posts, read 4,630,594 times
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I would make a trip to the management co ofc immediately Monday morning. If your HOA meetins regularly, I would go to the next meeting. I would also notify them in writing of your mailing address.

Sorry I could not be of much help.
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:12 PM
1,039 posts, read 3,005,046 times
Reputation: 485
Try to get a lawyer first. Second send these details to all 3 local news affiliates. I remember they did a piece on a family getting ready to lose their home because of HOA liens. The company backed off pretty quick from the negative PR. Good luck
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:15 PM
1,039 posts, read 3,005,046 times
Reputation: 485
Also I think there is a limit to how much legal fees they can add to those types of liens. Ask a lawyer about that. Seems that I heard something somewhere about lawyers dishing out ridiculous fees for this kind of work... You may not have the money for a lawyer, ask your friends see if anyone knows someone who knows someone.
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:20 PM
1,039 posts, read 3,005,046 times
Reputation: 485
Look up this thread... It might have some good info for you. Did not read the whole thing, sorry a little short on time but it might give you something to think about. It is on the Charlotte forum BTW

pradatory HOA - homeowners are paying for HOA's screwups (HOA fees, attorney)
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:25 PM
1,050 posts, read 3,525,886 times
Reputation: 1201
There was a incedent a few years back where a woman's home was going to be foreclosed on along the same line as yours. Is there some organization in your city, a watchdog group? Know anyone on the city council? We have Clark Howard in Atlanta--he sometimes gets help for people in a situation such as this. This is a terrible thing to go thru as you were trying to help out a needy person.

I agree with baybook about going to the management office and speaking someone in person. Good luck.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:11 PM
2,152 posts, read 6,800,089 times
Reputation: 1389
Before you go through the trouble of getting a lawyer (which it doesn't sound like you have the $$ to do so), and alerting the local meeting, stop, take a deep breath and write a letter to the board by means of the management company. Make a phone call to the management company and ask for the representative from the management conmpany that manages your community. When you speak to him or her, ask them who the President of the HOA Board is, and how you can get in touch with them. I would them contact him / her and explain the situation and see what they will do to work with you.

There is nothing like a phone call or most likely an e-mail from the HOA's lawyer who doesn't know you and is most likely acting in their best interest and telling them that your some deadbeat all the while charging the HOA more fees.

We have had situations where mails gets crossed up and the rightful homeowners doesn't update addresses and they don't get mail. We then move through the process which gets the lawyers involved, but as a rule....We don't foreclose on anyone if they're willing to work with us.

I think this can be resolved reasonably, but it must be documented and I think open, frank communication is the answer.

Good Luck,

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Old 09-25-2009, 10:10 PM
3,071 posts, read 9,138,312 times
Reputation: 1660
Maybe I missed it but what role have the friends you said live in your house / their house played in this. The car ,who owned the car? HOAs and management companys can be very dirty when they have you over a legal barrel . The very long and complicated contracts you sign with them can let them ripp you off and get away with it. They are often very prepared to go to court ,its just part of how they do business...real scum Why are you paying the fines.you dont live there do you? Have you considered "your resident" may have created some issues with the neighbors. Sounds like they are just renters and maybe the HOA has some special rules about renters... You need to find out. If these renters are really wanting to build their sick credit back up they need to act like they want to own the place and not let you pay extra .. I think at this point maybe we need to see some valid ID from everyone just to be sure we know who we are dealing with..for all we know the "renters" may not speak english and cant read their mail or be able to sign anything ........There is a problem somewhere. I believe your renters are planning to move soon.

Last edited by Nativechief; 09-25-2009 at 10:43 PM..
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:22 PM
Location: North Carolina
6,957 posts, read 8,490,829 times
Reputation: 6777
jlwrivera - There are a few things that seem out of whack with this story. Why were you not getting all the notices regarding this property? If you are the owner, all of the mail going out from the management company should be going to your home address. If that was the case, any notices about the unlicensed car would have been received directly by you and you could have quickly dealt with that problem.

Most people don't realize that any money received by the HOA's management company goes first to paying fines, and then any remainder is applied to paying off the dues. This is done so HOA's can collect money that might not be willingly paid for fines, can be collected. It sounds like this situation is what happened to you. When the woman at the management company said not to worry, did she tell you these fines would be dropped? She has no power to do so, only the HOA board can change a fine. By your acknowledging that you found out about the problem, that wouldn't have any effect on the $430 in fines... although it might stop any further accumulation of them... assuming your friends corrected their car problem.

Why would your "friends" not tell you about the certified letter "immediately if not sooner". Did they offer to pay the $430 fine? After all, they were the ones who caused it. I doubt any board would agree to zero them out! Just because you are current on the dues means nothing if you have a balance on your account! That $430 "negates" the dues you were up to date on. Once that goes to an attorney, it severely limits the power of the HOA board to do anything about it. If you had paid the $648, it would have stopped the foreclosure process. But by waiting so long to get back to the attorney, you have made foreclosure almost inevitable.

Your only salvation at this point, would be if the board never sent out a letter informing you that your $218 deal was not accepted. If it sat at your residents' place and you didn't get it, it will not be looked upon as a valid excuse. Your friends ignorance of the HOA rules which govern your development may well costing you and them a "home". Since they were planning to take this house off your hands in 3 months, perhaps they could float you the $1492, since ultimately they were responsible for this mess and you might subtract something off the price of the home.
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Old 09-26-2009, 01:27 PM
11 posts, read 26,948 times
Reputation: 19
Thank you everyone for your replies and advice. Our friends at the Home usually collect the mail (throw out anything that is junk - as it all should be except the HOA items) and then forward it to us monthly. That was the agreement as they are the "owners" and need to be responsible for dealing with the HOA. The HOA bills are supposed to come to us, as I wanted to make sure they were paid and never overlooked. The HOA has our phone number and since June has our address. I know this to be the case because during the month of august and september we have received five different notices warning of violations and potential fines at the property (most violations I feel are ridiculous and harrassing but understand the intention, and like to think that the family is not being discriminated against. All violations were resolved in less than 3 days once we received notice, except the oil stain in the driveway which has been scrubbed and treated unsuccessfully to date and is currently scheduled for and acid treatment).

The car was our friends and they understood they were responsible for the fines but they are unable to pay. They are working class people, with average educations and the dream of owning a home again, trying to get by and like many, live paycheck to paycheck and unexpected expenses do set them back. The car apparently was unlicensed because it was in an accident and they needed to get it fixed. They told me they had been made aware of the issue and were working to correct it as quickly as they could within their limited finances, but that it required them to personally fix the car. They also told me that they never got notice that the warnings had become fines. They were willing to pay the $430 at closing by rolling it into the loan. Which after being told not to worry about the fines, we thought was unnecessary.

You are right about my ignorance about the ability of the management company and thier ability to remove fees. I usually pay the entire year of dues at the beginning of the year and am usually late. I usually am charged a $20/month fine on a $52.00 payment. That is a 38.46% late fee per month (is this even legal?) that has been waived with a phone call. The property management company has on several occassions removed fees from my account in the past over the phone so I did not think this was any different

There have been no letters or phone calls indicating that the offer I made was rejected and that they were moving immediately to foreclosure. In fact today, our friends faxed us a copy of the notice of foreclosure which they signed for so they have gotten the message about signing for the mail and getting it to us. Interesting that the property management company knows to send violation notices to us via the US mail, yet sends the notice of foreclosure certified mail to the property. (going through this I am starting to feel like there is a conspiracy to get rid of them and us...).

Yes, technically they are renters and they do have an option agreement on the property, all set up to help protect everyones interests. For three years they have paid us the monthly mortgage payment on time and done everything they have been asked. While I can get all conspiracy theory about them, it really serves me no purpose.

I will try and contact the board memebers directly as suggested and the next HOA meeting is November. An attorney has to be the last resort.

Thank you everyone for your feedback.
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