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Subject: Maintenance Fee/Community Service Fee
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Author Messages
WarrenS
(Texas)

Posts:7


05/14/2012 12:01 PM  
I paid my full maintenance fee in accordance with Section 20, Article 6 of our Deed Covenants. I sent my check, and the Association received it, when it was due. I plainly wrote on the check (2011 Maintenance Fee) and also on the invoice, I wrote 2011 Maintenance Fee in accordance with Deed Covenants Sec. 20, Article 6. I refuse to pay the Community Service Fee because I am opposed to what it is being used for. Today I received my check back stating that The Board was not accepting any PARTIAL PAYMENTS. I maintain that this is not a partial payment of anything, it is the FULL PAYMENT of the Maintenance fee which I contend is a complete separate fee. Please advise me on this as I am not opposed to paying the maintenance fee but I am opposed to the Community Service Fee, even though I do know that it is a legal fee. What I am asking is can they legally refuse my full payment of the Maintenance Fee as called for in the Deed Restriction Covenants?
Thanks
Warren





MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:4733


05/14/2012 12:15 PM  
What is the community service fee and what is it used for? FYI, refusal to pay it may cause you to have a lien placed on you...A little more definition of this charge would be valuable in understanding if it is separate or part of the requirement to pay.

Former HOA President
FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:529


05/14/2012 12:19 PM  
You need to read your documents to determine what you are required to pay. It might be best if you think of this more along the lines of the income tax (which you are obliged to pay even if you are opposed to some of the things it pays for) rather than charitable contributions (which may well be dictated by your beliefs).

It is not unusual to have a policy that says partial payments will not be accepted.
WarrenS
(Texas)

Posts:7


05/14/2012 12:30 PM  
The Community Service Fee is a complete and Separate fee that the Texas Legislature passed, I believe in 1996. It is a fee that is supposed to be for designated purposes such as police patrol, common areas, etc. I know that a lein may be filed for failure to pay this fee but not forclosure. If I refuse to pay my MAINTENANCE FEE, which I have tried to pay, forclosure is possible. That is why I have paid this fee and I paid on time.

WarrenS









GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5023


05/14/2012 12:37 PM  
Warren, you can't opt-out of fees required by the association. You will spend more time and MONEY defending your position than the fee is worth. If you want to take this on, pay your assessment with one check, pay the other fee with another check and write paid under protest in the memo line. Then take the HOA to small claims court to recover the fee and watch even more of your money disappear when the judge/referee sides with the HOA.

"Common sense is like deodorant--the people who need it most never use it."
JonD1
(New York)

Posts:1603


05/14/2012 12:51 PM  
Warren IMO you are playing a very dangerous and costly game which more than likely you can't win. You cannot decide whether to pay based on YOUR feelings on how this money is spent. That simply is not how this works.

So if the other owners don't like the landscaping under your rules the just refuse to pay?

Just wondering what amount of money are we talking about? Is this worth losing your home for? IMO the HOA has a right to refuse partial payments which makes you not up to date on your maitainance fees.

You might think you are in the right but IMO you will be hard pressed to find a court that sides with you.

Pay the enitre fee amounts and THEN demand an explanation at the next Board meeting as to how and why these fess are being collected. Why you have not done so already is a problem.



WarrenS
(Texas)

Posts:7


05/14/2012 1:00 PM  
I can see that no one really understands what I am saying. Evidently no one is familiar with the Texas law and maybe I am not explaining it clear enough. What I am trying to say is, the Community Service Fee, Texas Code 204.010(a)(9) is not included in our Deed Restrictions. This is why I have paid ONLY the fee in accordance with the deed covenants and the board has refused to accept my check, which they say is a partial payment, even though it is the full amount of the called for maintenance fee.

Warren
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:3887


05/14/2012 1:38 PM  
Warren

You are blaming/hurting your association because you do not think something is fair. What will be next? You paying partial dues as you think the dues are not fair?


WarrenS
(Texas)

Posts:7


05/14/2012 2:57 PM  
Would you like paying two off duty police officers to patrol your neighborhood a TOTAL of 20 hours a week (Wednesday thru Saturday) from 3 pm until around 8-9 pm when everyone is home and awake. About all they've done the last two years is pick up a few drug addicts or prostitutes. All crime in the neighborhood occurs after midnight. If you think this makes sense then something is wrong. We also have the volunteer Citizens on Patrol program. Also more money is spent on a swimming pool area that is used very little by very few people of the subdivision. I am not the only one complaining but probably am only one out of a few who has the guts to speak up. Believe me, I've talked to many people and they all say they just pay to avoid fighting with the board. I'm not made that way, if I think something is wrong, I let my thoughts be known. Regardless, I contend that my MAINTENANCE FEE should be accepted. I am waiting for an answer from the Texas Attorney Generals office and if I am wrong then I will eat crow and pay! I have talked to an attorney on this, he agrees with me but says it would cost thousands to go to court. I can't afford this as I am 77 years old and live on my S.S.

Warren
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:8795


05/14/2012 2:59 PM  
Warren,

As you are aware, Texas Code 204.010 item 9 specifies that an association has the power to "impose and receive payments, fees, or charges for the use, rental, or operation of the common area and for services provided to property owners;"

Granted, this is limited by the language at the beginning of that section "Unless otherwise provided by the restrictions or the association's articles of incorporation or bylaws".

My understanding of a "community service fee" if for the Association to cover expenses related to the operation and maintenance of community amenities when the membership is unwilling to increase assessments to cover those expenses. Another way of interpreting this would be that the "Assessments" cover abc and the "community service fee" covers xyz. Of course, this would depend on the language within your Governing documents.

Since we don't have access to your Associations governing documents, the reasoning of the Boards decision or purpose of the "maintenance fee", an informed opinion if the Association had the authority or not can not be offered. Therefore, instead I will offer the following:

Decisions have both intended and unintended consequences. Good decisions tend to have good consequences and bad decisions have bad consequences. As stated earlier, not enough information is available to form an opinion if your decision to try and pay only part of what the Association determines you should pay is a good or bad decision. However, I believe the method you are using to implement this decision might be a bad one (or at least an uninformed one).

I agree that fights sometime have to happen and sometimes on principal alone. All fights cost time, energy and money. The fight also affects those around us. As with all fights, win or lose there are unintended consequences associated with fighting the good fight. Gathering all the information available will hopefully reveal those unintended consequences and allow you to make an informed decision if the fight will be worth it.

Since your basing your refusal to pay all that the Association says you owe on your interpretation of the statute and governing documents, it would be a good idea to seek out a legal opinion or two on the issue. This will cost you money but will also give you the information to determine if the additional time, energy and money you spend will be worth it.

Lets look at the known consequences for not paying:

1) late fees and other costs of collection (admin fees, legal fees, etc.)
2) typically, the loss of privilege to vote at the annual meeting.
3) Possible lien on your property
4) Possible loss of use of amenities (pool, etc.)


Lets now look at the known consequences for fighting a legal battle:

1) Costs for your Attorney
2) Court Costs
3) Your share of legal costs for the Association (as you are a member and must pay your share)
4) Possible delay of things you want to do because of legal costs and appointments
5) Possible loss of relations with neighbors (as they need to pay their share of Association legal expenses).


I am not an attorney and I do not work within the legal profession. I am offering advice based on what was posted, personal experiences, my interpretation of any research done and, hopefully, common sense. My advice is:

1) Pay the full amount but write on the check "under protest" and include a written document as to why you believe the boards decision is improper. This shows that you are meeting your obligation to avoid further legal entanglement while preserving your right to object to the obligation. Note the written document should be civil, void of emotion and unverified statements. This action may or may not help you should you seek a legal challenge.

2) Seek legal opinions (more than one) on if the Board has this authority to charge a "community service fee" or does the governing documents limit this authority.

3) Seek legal opinions on the cost, length and likely outcome of challenging the boards decision.

4) Consider other options (recalling the board)

5) Attend board meetings to see what impact this decision has had and to learn why the Board made this decision.

6) Obtain copies of the last years board meeting minutes to gain any more information that might be available.

7) Seek a position on the board in the next election to change this decision.


Hope this helps,

Tim
EllieD
(Vermont)

Posts:360


05/14/2012 3:25 PM  
WarrenS,

Not being in Texas, or familiar with code you posted – I did a quick Google Search and found this:

Summary: Property Code sec.204.010(a)(9) authorizes the board of a property owners' association that is subject to chapter 204 to impose, without membership approval, payments, fees, or charges for the use, rental, or operation of the common area and for services provided to property owners unless property restrictions or the association's articles of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise. Subsection (a)(9) encompasses the authority to set additional payments, fees, or charges and to raise existing payments, fees, or charges.

Does your Association come under Chapter 204? Where does the terminology “Community Service Fee” come from?
FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:529


05/14/2012 4:51 PM  
This is not going to end well.

The HOA thinks they are entitled to both fees. They have an obligation to try to collect both because otherwise other homeowners have to make up the slack. They will add penalties and they will try to get the money, probably first by just adding penalties and probably later by filing a lien. I don't know what other options are open in Texas.

Taking on this fight, AND not being able to afford legal representation, is a very bad idea.
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