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Subject: How to deal with the legal fee for not paying HOA fee enough, but it is because didn't receive the notice
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Author Messages
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


12/26/2019 6:29 PM  
If they are not talking to you, ask another homeowner? Start knocking on doors. How did you get notified of the increase?
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/26/2019 6:34 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 12/26/2019 6:29 PM
If they are not talking to you, ask another homeowner? Start knocking on doors. How did you get notified of the increase?





Do you want to prove that if Mary was raped, and then asked her to ask other women, why didn't you get raped?
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


12/26/2019 8:16 PM  
We are simply talking a dues increase. Nothing like rape.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16798


12/26/2019 8:17 PM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/26/2019 6:34 PM
Posted By SteveM9 on 12/26/2019 6:29 PM
If they are not talking to you, ask another homeowner? Start knocking on doors. How did you get notified of the increase?





Do you want to prove that if Mary was raped, and then asked her to ask other women, why didn't you get raped?




A bit extreme.
Obviously, no where near the same.

It would be helpful, in case it does go to court, to know how everyone was notified about the increase.
the advice was, If the board or their agents are not telling you, ask other members.
Seems like logical advice.

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


12/26/2019 8:18 PM  
If you cant have a simple conversation with your neighbors, your doomed.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/26/2019 8:28 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 12/26/2019 8:18 PM
If you cant have a simple conversation with your neighbors, your doomed.




Could you please tell me why??
What is the relationship between the HOA can't show me the prove that they have noticed me which indicates I have balance and a simple conversation with my neighbors?
What do you want to say?
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/26/2019 9:00 PM  
Posted By NicoleC5 on 12/26/2019 11:32 AM
Hi Leanne,

Sorry to hear about your situation. Often times the management companies are not helpful and use this tactic as a way to generate more fees.
I did not read all the responses but my solution would be to start creating a record of what is going on. Send an email and certified letter to the management company and your BOD indicating you disagree with their accounting and request an in person meeting to dispute the charges.

Hope this helps!




Hello Nicole,
Thanks for your advice!
Sincerely,
Leanne
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9399


12/27/2019 4:13 AM  
I think most of us here think that a 10% increase isn't something one keeps secret. Usually an increase higher than 5% is a membership vote. Which you neighbors and you would have had to voted for. Sometimes even in a special meeting. That is why we are asking why not talk to a neighbor why and how the vote was taken. Your neighbors and you are the HOA after all...

Our HOA we would not have raised dues so randomly. It has to be a purpose and an expense to cover. Like increased maintenance cost or need to feed the reserves. A 10% increase and two of them would have set off my radar to find out what is going on with my HOA that it needs to raise funds to cover. It would trigger me to talk to neighbors to find out additional details or ask for financials.

I am not sure if it is the HOA who did this or the third-party assumed to be the MC whom did this. If it were the HOA, I can't imagine this not being a huge deal amongst the entire neighborhood. If it's the MC, then they don't have the responsibility as much. Just a collection point doing what the HOA tells them.

Former HOA President
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 5:30 AM  
Any more red flags at full mast, yet?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3296


12/27/2019 6:02 AM  
Two pages on this?

It is true you should have received some notice about an assessment increase, but snail mail can and does disappear, emails may get snapped up in an anti-spam software, phone messages get deleted by mistake, or someone says he/she will give your the message and forget. Ultimately, it's YOUR responsibility to ensure the property manager/HOA board has your current information. It's also important not to assume anything - you don't say how long you've owned your condo, but I would think this isn't the first time you've had a fee increase - how were you notified at that time and what did the bank do?

In my community, we send notices to everyone, regardless of how they pay, and we have to receive it on or before Dec. 1, because the new budget and assessment take effect on Jan. 1. That's a 30 day notice and plenty of time to make whatever adjustment to your automatic payment amount. We have a number of people who pay automatically, so I'm assuming they get some sort of notice from their bank stating the automatic withdrawal amount will increase. During my 10 years on the board, we never had a complaint, so I assume this is what happens (I pay my fees online, but don't have an automatic withdrawal). In fact, this may be the bank's fault - have you talked to them?

I do think there was some sort of hiccup the board should look into - maybe someone at the property management company wasn't paying attention. If a balance started to develop, you should have received a notice about that before the account went to a collection agency or attorney for collection. I'd also take your previous payment history into account and would suggest the board consider reducing or waiving the collection altogether.

Hopefully, you will appeal this and at least get the fees reduced (that's what I recommend). I realize you may not want to pay anything, but sometimes, it's best to meet people halfway and then take steps to protect yourself in the future.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 6:10 AM  
Shelia, there are two condos, it turns out - mentioned by OP following the initial post.

I continue to be skeptical and confused regarding the core issues, timeline, method of assessment delivery, amounts of assessment, supposed two assessment increases in one cycle following several cycles of increases, etc.
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:264


12/27/2019 6:55 AM  
How do they notify you of the first increase? Are you sure they didn't notify you of the second increase when they notified you of the first? How do the HOA requirements require you to be notified? The HOA/management should prove how they notified you even if it saying a letter was sent to address xxxxxx on September 5, 2019. If they say they notified you and the vast majority were notified it is your problem unless the HOA documents require them to notify you in a form other than they say you were notified.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/27/2019 7:33 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 12/27/2019 6:02 AM
Two pages on this?

It is true you should have received some notice about an assessment increase, but snail mail can and does disappear, emails may get snapped up in an anti-spam software, phone messages get deleted by mistake, or someone says he/she will give your the message and forget. Ultimately, it's YOUR responsibility to ensure the property manager/HOA board has your current information. It's also important not to assume anything - you don't say how long you've owned your condo, but I would think this isn't the first time you've had a fee increase - how were you notified at that time and what did the bank do?

In my community, we send notices to everyone, regardless of how they pay, and we have to receive it on or before Dec. 1, because the new budget and assessment take effect on Jan. 1. That's a 30 day notice and plenty of time to make whatever adjustment to your automatic payment amount. We have a number of people who pay automatically, so I'm assuming they get some sort of notice from their bank stating the automatic withdrawal amount will increase. During my 10 years on the board, we never had a complaint, so I assume this is what happens (I pay my fees online, but don't have an automatic withdrawal). In fact, this may be the bank's fault - have you talked to them?




Hi Shelia,
Really thank you providing more detail information in your community and some suggestions.

Yes, you did it well, so nobody complaint.
I have discussed with my friends who own rental condo also (not in the same community), the HOA informed them like your office by letter with bill statement or increase notice letter, by email, or by phone call (yes, phone call, when they want to finish a fiscal year they want to collect all the balance). They are all in regular action.

So is my case unbelievable? I always think this is a special case until I got a lot of response who think if you own this property, then you should find your way to know when, how, and how much to pay by yourself from this place. I believe that some other HOAs did it terrible also.

By the way, auto pay means pay in payment center of online banking, it will send the same amount on the same date every month till I adjust the amount by hand. I set up it to avoid forgetting to pay on time. However, another horrible issue happened.
I am angry that I am a good home owner, pay HOA on every 1st or sometime the bank send the check on the end of last month to ensure check can be deliver on 1st, however, I got the legal letter. This is not a big deal originally, but I don't want to yield no matter how much legal fee (even it is increased looks like more threaten). It is not my fault, why should I take the bill. If I yield, it means they can do it continuously but correct their process. More people would be hurt.

All of others, please don't judge how it is possible happened, to review the attitude of some other people's response on first page. I will leave this forum to do my work but I will update it if I have some progress or negative news. If other people would like to share your experience or opinion or some advice, I appreciate and will read carefully but maybe not response.

Thank you all!
Leanne
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 7:34 AM  
Posted By SamE2 on 12/27/2019 6:55 AM
If they say they notified you and the vast majority were notified it is your problem unless the HOA documents require them to notify you in a form other than they say you were notified.
First, under these circumstances, I am not so sure it would be the OP's problem. Second, if push comes to shove, what will satisfy the legal requirements for "notice" in a court? I think it will depend. Third, the condominium association will be stupid if its board lets this go to court. In court, the issue will be whether the OP owes the legal fees for collection (or just collection fees). Why spend more on legal fees?

I think all that will be necessary is for the condo association to show that two newsletters announced the two assessment increases and the date the increases were supposed to happen.

Related aside: From the very start, Leanne has asked why she received no monthly statements. Over nearly 25 years, all three of my hoas/condos always sent a monthly statement of what I owed. A monthly statement of one's account is usual for any debt.

What kills me is that, before the collection fees came into the picture, in dispute is maybe seven months of the amount of the assessment increase x two condos. I think we are talking about $500 or so here, and it's $500 or so that the OP is happy to pay instantly.

I wonder what the condominium association will produce in response to Leanne's request for proof of notice. The association's silence is foolish. While some of you question Leanne harshly, I have some harsh questions for the association.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 7:45 AM  
Leanne,

How long have you owned the two condos?

Has this condominium association ever sent monthly statements to owners?

Before May, 2019, had you ever received a monthly statement?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 7:46 AM  
And, I continue to wonder if we have been given all the information.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 7:56 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 7:46 AM
I continue to wonder if we have been given all the information.


Many people here have flat-out rejected black-and-white information the OP has shared so far, herd-style. They essentially are calling her a liar. At this point, it's a wonder that she bothers to post here at all.

GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 8:01 AM  
I agree - but, my time on Boards has shown me a whole different group of folks who simply won’t admit their failure to follow the rules and take personal responsibility for their actions and inactions.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 8:19 AM  
I agree that the typical condo or HOA member is absolutely 110% clueless about the rules. The typical condo or HOA member could not tell a person the difference between a covenant and an article of incorporation. On the other hand, the typical director is maybe a mere step ahead (and sometimes, several steps behind). Leanne's posts asking, "Where is the monthly statement?"; the fact that she set up auto pay; and similar make me think she knows the 'rules' for "notice."

I think it's entirely plausible that the condo's management screwed up. I have seen County Tax assessors publicly list the wrong account number for the property tax on a house. The bank holding the mortgage on the house ends up paying someone else's property tax. Then the house whose property tax was supposed to be paid gets hit with a delinquency notice. If a county tax assessor could be so incompetent, a HOA management company could easily be as incompetent.

It does not help when the condo association will not explain its position and just sends the OP to the third party collection agency/lawyer. I believe the federal statute on debt collection does not require the third party to explain. So the OP is stuck, in massive yet understandable frustration. I am waiting for answers to more questions before, say, helping set her up to go to small claims court.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 8:32 AM  
The OP will be eaten alive if they go to court ... the MC and COA will show they used normal processes - I think they will show the mail went to an address that was not where the OP received mail, and further, that until the attorney got involved and researched the address, that the OP had provided the wrong address.

Then the OP set up autopay and ignored everything ... until the attorney contacted them.

We’ll see, but I suspect the OP will not provide close out.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 8:43 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 8:32 AM
I think [the condo association] will show the mail went to an address that was not where the OP received mail, and further, that until the attorney got involved and researched the address, that the OP had provided the wrong address.
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/26/2019 7:14 AM
I am sure HOA has my fully correct address and email address. I got a lot of meetings or events information from email.
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/26/2019 7:58 AM
[TimB4]Per Leanne, she is sure that the Association has her correct mailing address.---Yes, when it happened, I have double checked it.
...
[TimB4] Strongly suggest that Leanne verifies the Association actually has her correct email.---I did.


The online jury ponders.

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 9:05 AM  
This is not a matter that should end up in court.

The OP could go to small claims court but a small claims court typically just awards cash damages. Since the OP hasn't paid the alleged unlawfully-imposed debt (the legal fees that the HOA has charged), the small claims court wouldn't have any damages to require the HOA to pay.

The HOA could go to small claims court and sue the OP. The OP might have some defenses (e.g., not receiving notice of the dues increase, or more likely, not receiving due process before the legal fees were demanded). For that reason, OP, I suggest that you do an "accord and satisfaction".

If this goes to court, neither party may prevail in trying to get damages from the other.

This should just be worked out between the OP and the HOA, without going to court, though.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1042


12/27/2019 9:10 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/27/2019 7:56 AM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 7:46 AM
I continue to wonder if we have been given all the information.


Many people here have flat-out rejected black-and-white information the OP has shared so far, herd-style. They essentially are calling her a liar. At this point, it's a wonder that she bothers to post here at all.





I'm not assuming that the OP is lying, but there are a number of things that don't quite add up for me. It happens, this stuff can be complicated, other communities in other states do things differently, some people don't write well, etc. ** But it's always the case that we're hearing only one side of the story. **

In my community, we receive copies of the new budget in December, along with coupon books and information about what the community can expect for the coming year. You'd better believe it that I would be picking up the phone if I did not receive that information. This sort of proactive behavior should be expected from experienced condo owners, and I suspect that this is a sticking point for a number of other posters. It appears there was a failure to communicate from both ends of this particular issue, and successfully addressing the issue will need require changes on both ends.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 9:12 AM  
The COA’s attorney will file lien, and the amount due will increase as interest and fees accrue.

If the COA desires, they can then file foreclosure to force payment, or, more likely given the small amount just let it ride and the amount due will, again, increase.

Given what I think will come out, if the COA attorney is instructed to sue, the judge will side with the COA ... because they will show their process followed, and the failure of the OP to pay their assessments.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 9:29 AM  
Paul, you're right. Maryland small claims court involves itself only when there are cash damages, for one. At most, if push comes to shove, I suppose the OP could seek injunctive relief in Maryland's District Courts, to enforce her statutory right to a hearing. But long before court: I would give the Board no more than 45 days from today to respond to my requests for proof of notice and my informal request for a hearing. I would repeat my requests every two weeks. After 45 days, I would start sending demand letters for a hearing pursuant to Maryland Condo Act Sections 11-109 (d)(16) and 11-113. The Maryland Condominium Act at Section 11-113 has specifics of what this hearing must involve.

I do see that, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the OP can inform the third party debt collector to stop contacting her. Under the FDCPA, then the third party is only allowed to contact the OP to tell her either (1) it will no longer seek collection; or (2) it is taking her to court; or (3) it is taking some other specific action. The interested reader may wish to review https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 9:35 AM  
AugustinD, you're exactly right. If the HOA's lawyer acts after being told not to, the HOA's attorney could be liable to the OP for damages (I think that there is a specified penalty in the statute). Oddly, the HOA's attorney could demand that the HOA indemnify the lawyer for those damages. That issue alone could make the HOA back off (even though I thought it was unethical for a HOA lawyer to be indemnified by the HOA for the lawyer's bad acts, I've seen that happen).

So, OP: raising a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claim could stop the HOA.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 9:38 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 9:12 AM
If the COA desires, they can then file foreclosure to force payment, or, more likely given the small amount just let it ride and the amount due will, again, increase.

Given what I think will come out, if the COA attorney is instructed to sue, the judge will side with the COA ... because they will show their process followed, and the failure of the OP to pay their assessments.


Posted By CathyA3 on 12/26/2019 7:52 AM
In fact the board has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the HOA, and waiving fees incurred as a result of collection actions is putting the interest of that one owner ahead of the rest of the community. A responsible board would have a hard time justifying such an action.


Where I am, with two condos/HOAs now, the boards have had their collections attorney take high debt members to court. The judge would pressure both sides to mediate, or the two sides agree to settle. Mediation or settlement happens, and the damned board settles for way less than what is owed.

Alternatively at one of these HOAs, the board would settle directly with a member, and again for much less than what was owed.

The manager of another condo (where I was not a member) when queried said, "We place liens. The lien is paid off upon sale." This works best from where I am sitting. Though I suppose which practice is best depends on the circumstances, like how many members are delinquent; the status of reserves; whether there is a deterrent effect to taking someone to court; and so on.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/27/2019 9:56 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/27/2019 7:45 AM
Leanne,

How long have you owned the two condos?

Has this condominium association ever sent monthly statements to owners?

Before May, 2019, had you ever received a monthly statement?




Dear Augustin,

I own them 2 years. At first, I paid HOA via their online system monthly. I remember I found 1 time the HOA fee has been changed (without any notice only via online system I saw the amount is changed). Because, I have to login 2 accounts to pay for 2 condos and sometimes I paid late. So I changed to use online banking with autopay function for them to avoid paying late.

I have never received any monthly statement or yearly balance or any information about the due or balance. And my auto pay works well. I think everything is good. (Because all of other company including other HOAs will inform you when you have balance, and also after due how much should you pay. I have never got a legal letter about not paying any bills, only more penalty. I can identify which one is bill and which one is advertisement).

--------------
On July 2019,

I got my FIRST bill from collection company (or legal, I am not sure) since I owned my condos.

And from this bill, there is a record with lots of lines, all words in the bill are short name, then I guess which one is HOA, which one is my payment, which one is late fee (partial payment leads auto late fee charge every month, it shows I missed one time HOA increasing, so the late fee added for every month), all the others are related legal or something. I input them into excel to calculate what happened.
After my research, I found when they changed HOA fee again on MAY 2019 from this bill.

Then, I paid by 2 check separately for all of my due balance (except for legal fee) for 2 condos. Then, I discussed the fact with both of them, but they asked me pay all of them. I also complaint why I didn't receive any notice, no response.

One check was returned, the other one was accepted (this condo's HOA check was accepted till now but the legal fee and late fee still exist in the bill).

Because I think my realtor who bought them for me is more professional than me, I asked for her help to discuss with them in phone call and in person, no use. She has my fully authorization to discuss it. She double check all of my info are correct (home address, email, phone), and she also leave her contact information (address, phone number, email).

-----------------------------
On NOV,

I got my SECOND bill from the same company. From THIS LETTER, I know the HOA increased again on last month (OCT, 2019).
THE LEGAL LETTER DIDN'T TELL ME WHEN AND HOW MUCH, ONLY I DO RESEARCH AGAIN BY MYSELF TO FIND IT.

This is why I am sure I didn't get any notice about the HOA fee change. Because since July, I put more attention on this issue and contacted with them continuously. I am sure during this time, July to Nov, I got nothing (my realtor either).

This is not saying I am not sure I got the notice before but I ignored, I only want to prove it simply with this earliest increase action. They did it in a same way that some other professional HOA managers here responded me that find your way to know when, how, and how much should you pay. That is owner's responsibility. I don't know if the judge believes it.

And my second condo fee has new partial payment record again and late fee because of the unnoticed HOA change in Oct.....

I felt desperate and I asked them if I can only get the notice about HOA fee changing from a third-party's bill and only using my knowledge to do research to find which line shows me HOA has been increased again. Since you choose to use this legal way to inform me, why should I pay the legal fee. Nobody answered my question, only tell me pay in full or will sue you or legal way, and more and more legal fee added.....

Under this situation, I am still following my realtor's suggestion, try to pay all the balance, including Dec's fee.

However, HOA only told me they didn't accept my payment, let me contact with third-party. And third-party only said must pay in full and then returned my checks.
-------------------------------------
On Dec, before Christmas,

I got the THIRD legal letter. More legal fee added and deadline......

My realtor helped me consult a lawyer for this issue, the lawyer said maybe they won't sue you but hold your case and make the balance into super big to threaten you and destroy your credit. When you want to sell them out or using your credit, you have to sue them to resolve this issue.

My realtor has no confidence (time, money, and energy) to beat a legal company so she persuaded me to yield and pay in full.

I am a novice in law, but I think I did nothing wrong. I will not definitely yield and I want to see who wrong is in my case. But I have no idea.

That's why I search it on the website.

Then I found this similar case here
http://www.hoatalk.com/Search/ForumSearch/tabid/87/forumid/1/postid/161032/view/topic/Default.aspx

Then I post my case here.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 10:16 AM  
Leanne, thank you for the detail. For what it is worth, I think you have credibility and intelligence. I would feel as you do. This has cost you months of time and frustration. I think it's time to send a demand letter, asking for a hearing, with the force of statute behind the request. Send it to the condo manager, certified mail, return receipt requested. I think something like the following is fine:

---------------------
Dear Board,

Pursuant to the Maryland Condominium Act Section 11-109 (d)(16) and Section 11-113, I request a hearing with the Board. The subject of the hearing is the Condominium's claim that I owe it legal fees for debt collection. I dispute this, on account of never having received notice of assessment increases.

I would appreciate your sending me three dates and times that will work for the Board for this hearing. I request the Association send me these dates by January 15. I will let you know promptly which date works for me.

Thank you,

Leanne _____
[mailing address]
[phone number]
[email address]
----------------------
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 10:36 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/27/2019 9:56 AM
Then I found this similar case here http://www.hoatalk.com/Search/ForumSearch/tabid/87/forumid/1/postid/161032/view/topic/Default.aspx


Leanne, wow, this "warrant of (in?) debt" claim, as described in the thread linked above, is interesting. You would be claiming the HOA owes you the fees it is billing you for the collection. So far, it is not clear to me whether the OP in this other thread paid the legal fees and then took the HOA to court to recover the legal fees. Either way, I think it shows promise. But first, I believe the court will expect you to ask for a hearing with the Board, as required by the Maryland Condominium Act.

Either way and for what it is worth, good work.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9543


12/27/2019 11:40 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/27/2019 10:16 AM
Leanne, thank you for the detail. For what it is worth, I think you have credibility and intelligence. I would feel as you do. This has cost you months of time and frustration. I think it's time to send a demand letter, asking for a hearing, with the force of statute behind the request. Send it to the condo manager, certified mail, return receipt requested. I think something like the following is fine:

---------------------
Dear Board,

Pursuant to the Maryland Condominium Act Section 11-109 (d)(16) and Section 11-113, I request a hearing with the Board. The subject of the hearing is the Condominium's claim that I owe it legal fees for debt collection. I dispute this, on account of never having received notice of assessment increases.

I would appreciate your sending me three dates and times that will work for the Board for this hearing. I request the Association send me these dates by January 15. I will let you know promptly which date works for me.

Thank you,

Leanne _____
[mailing address]
[phone number]
[email address]
----------------------





Send it. See what happens.

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 11:51 AM  
I agree with AustinD's advice.

Please also consider adding to the letter, consistent with what AustinD posted above: that you dispute the demand for legal fees because you were not given notice and a hearing before that demand was made.

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 12:43 PM  
Sorry, AUGUSTIND's advice. It's excellent. Both HOAs and owners who aren't board members can learn from it.
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:264


12/27/2019 1:04 PM  
After reading it seems like the notice is on the HOA's online billing system which the original poster decided not to use.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 1:15 PM  
I would love to work this for my Board!

I would make sure we had followed our process, ensure all the little details about attempted delivery were in line with our process, offer opportunity for the OP to speak to the Board, then say thank you, then instruct the management company to continue to charge interest per our process, then wait until it made sense to lien, then lien ... wait until the house is sold to collect.

If the property owner angrily decides to not pay assessment in the future and the amount gets above our one year assessment threshold, then I would turn the account over for collection with instructions to the attorney to just follow the process. Once liened and unpaid by month eight, I would instruct the attorney to file notice of intent to foreclose.

If, at any point, I determine there is fault at the management company, I would immediately apologize to the property owner, and instruct the management company to negate any fees and interest.

This is simple stuff made hard by mistakes on either side - but, to be clear, I have heard nothing in this thread except an angry owner's statements - almost all of which seem like they are missing something. And, as I noted, I have dealt with too many property owners with an odd sense of facts, and right v wrong. In fact, this forum is full of all sorts of whacky claims - almost none of which have any closure shared.

BTW - I have had owners spin tales - big tales. I have refuted these in front of the Board at open meetings. I try to have suitable research to help the discussion along - ex: during my last interaction: property owner didn't want us to lien or foreclose and wanted a deal. Offered to sign an NDA. Noted in open meeting how so many issues had developed and she had trouble paying this year. I provided a ten year history of failure to pay ... always carrying more than a year's assessment balance ... and no payments in 4 years. The owner stopped talking - and said - oh.

It takes all kinds - in Leanne's case, I would be more than happy to go to court - but, only if the FACTS show what I think they might show. If it was COA or MC fault, I would simply apologize and move on.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 1:31 PM  
GeorgeS1, I keep seeing your name on the left-hand side of the screen.

Please have the owners of this board ban posters who are violating the rules. If I'm one of the people banned by the owners for violating the rules, then I will accept that and you will be vindicated.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 1:54 PM  
Paul,

Not sure what you mean ...my screen shows GeorgeS21, yours PaulJ6.

Someone else comment to sort, please?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1042


12/27/2019 2:25 PM  
George,

The process you outlined is pretty much standard procedure in my community. Like you, we've seen the delinquencies that run the gamut - from those who are hit by unexpected events (identity theft or an unexpected funeral expense for a young-adult child) up to the deliberate non-payment of assessments (a chronically unemployed person and another who manufactured her issues and "facts" out of thin air).

I can't imagine a responsible board jumping automatically to involving the lawyers. That costs money, and we would never do that before exhausting in-house efforts to collect the delinquent assessments. And in fact, if the association does goes to court, they'd better be able to demonstrate that they have given the owner every opportunity to pay. We bend over backwards, and go well beyond the point where it's obvious that the owner has no intention of paying, just so that a judge can't claim that we're over-reaching or mistreating an owner (this is at the advice of our attorney, by the way).

So I also remain puzzled. I agree that it is simple stuff that has been made complicated.



AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 2:28 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 1:15 PM
I would love to work this for my Board!
...
If the property owner angrily decides to not pay assessment in the future [snip]
Foul. I want to know what you would say to the management and collections agency for refusing to accept the assessment payment the OP persistently has tried to make.

Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/27/2019 11:51 AM
Please also consider adding to the letter, consistent with what [AugustinD] posted above: that you dispute the demand for legal fees because you were not given notice and a hearing before that demand was made.
I agree. The OP should add this.

Posted By SamE2 on 12/27/2019 1:04 PM
After reading it seems like the notice is on the HOA's online billing system which the original poster decided not to use.
Noted. But since the HOA offers other ways of paying the assessment, I doubt this point would be persuasive to a judge (if push comes to shove). Just saying.
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 2:32 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 12/27/2019 2:25 PM
We bend over backwards, and go well beyond the point where it's obvious that the owner has no intention of paying, just so that a judge can't claim that we're over-reaching or mistreating an owner (this is at the advice of our attorney, by the way).


At the two condos/HOAs where I was paying attention to debt collection, I think the above is the way it was.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 2:41 PM  
Leanne, if I were you, now I'd sign up for every online notice possible, and I'd also ensure that my address is updated in the HOA's records. It's up to you to use your best efforts to get HOA notices, and I find it odd that you didn't sign up for its online notices before. But fix that now to show that you're really trying, and that you're acting in good faith.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 2:43 PM  
Ah ... to be clear, I would gladly accept anything paid at any time. Unpaid amounts would still be subject to fees and interest, obviously. And, then the process would be as I outlined.

Again, this is only reasonable ... again, my sense is that since this is reasonable, we are likely not getting full Information.

Foul?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1042


12/27/2019 3:06 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 2:43 PM
Ah ... to be clear, I would gladly accept anything paid at any time. Unpaid amounts would still be subject to fees and interest, obviously. And, then the process would be as I outlined.

Again, this is only reasonable ... again, my sense is that since this is reasonable, we are likely not getting full Information.

Foul?




Interesting point: our lawyer told us that accepting partial payments makes it much less likely that we'd be able to foreclose successfully. You have a much better chance with someone who stops paying completely.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 4:11 PM  
Cathy,

Common rationale for accepting anything - and continuing to track underpayment with added interest - to me - is that it avoids full effort and cost of legal assistance.

My current neighborhood has maybe 10 accounts out of 300+ that have a small amount still due - mainly from owners who mailed in their checks late, sometimes months late, ignoring the additional cost - usually because they didn't want to pay it. Each subsequent cycle we bill for the new assessment and the amount still owed from last cycle. Ex: $600 assessment is $612 before check is received from owner. We subtract $600 from the $612 and then continue to add interest to the $12 until the next $600 bill, which with $12 plus interest might be $619. If still unpaid we continue to repeat. Lien filing too expensive relative to the unpaid $19, so we continue to roll it to the right. If the owner calls the property manager, they are told how this happened and that they did not pay when they should have. If the property owner refuses to pay, the amount continues to increase, until it gets large enough to warrant the $75 charge to lien, or the property is sold when the purchaser is notified of the due amount - the full amount gets paid at closing.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 4:15 PM  
Leanne, also:

* Do an "accord and satisfaction" by marking on your next check to the HOA, "Paid in Full".

That will protect you if the HOA sues you.

There are various criteria that need to be met for this to work, but if you mark your check "Paid in Full" and the HOA accepts it, that should give you some protection.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 4:34 PM  
Leanne,

You may do what Paul is recommending, but it will not protect you. Further, following his instructions could cost you even more money.

Anyway, I suspect your condo’s management company has been around a few rodeos. I dunno, perhaps you’ll be the lucky one.

None of this would work with my HOA - if it appeared you were avoiding payment with pseudo legal maneuvering, we would just tell the attorney to solve it. Then you would have even more at stake as our attorney has seen everything - after seeing the gleam in her eyes, I think she enjoys countering this sort of internet legal advice.

Now, it is time for you to place your bet!

Again, please let us know what happens. We might all learn something.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 4:53 PM  
GeorgeS21, again: if you're continuing to pick at others, then you need to go to the owners of this board and have them ban posters who aren't following the rules. Please do that. I haven't received any communications from the owners of this board regarding rules violations. I'll look forward to receiving them. That will vindicate you.

Leanne, if I were you I'd do what AugustinD says. His advice is excellent.

For my own background, I faced a HOA that demanded all sorts of fines and other amounts from me, including its own legal fees due to its efforts to collect amounts from me. I sued the HOA and its lawyer. The grounds for my suits were (in part) violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, failure to comply with a valid accord and satisfaction and more. I'm under a confidentiality obligation regarding the outcome, but I don't give advice unless I'm confident in it, and I have first-hand experience battling a HOA in court.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/27/2019 5:07 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/27/2019 2:41 PM
Leanne, if I were you, now I'd sign up for every online notice possible, and I'd also ensure that my address is updated in the HOA's records. It's up to you to use your best efforts to get HOA notices, and I find it odd that you didn't sign up for its online notices before. But fix that now to show that you're really trying, and that you're acting in good faith.




Posted By SamE2 on 12/27/2019 1:04 PM
After reading it seems like the notice is on the HOA's online billing system which the original poster decided not to use.
Noted. But since the HOA offers other ways of paying the assessment, I doubt this point would be persuasive to a judge (if push comes to shove). Just saying.

Hi,
From this forum, I got a lot help. Thank you everyone.

Per some people's advice, I did more and got new information. My realtor bought another condo for her customer in the same community for rent just like my way. She asked that owner how did he receive the notice and the bill. This owner told her he received the formal letter notice, the notice has clear information that how much would be new amount. Sometimes, when he forgot to pay, he would receive the bill with clear due day and the balance. This owner didn't use any HOA's online system and email. And he also buy it as rental house. All the letters are mailed to his living house.

The realtor confirmed that my address and other information are all right and she provided them in the same way with that owner to the HOA. And, since this July, when I got the legal letter, she has confirmed my address again with HOA. However, I still get nothing except for legal letter. Even they increase HOA again on Oct, I didn't get any notice letter.-----other people don't think into other ways...NO HOA LETTER TO MY HOUSE! Mailman come to my house everyday.

I think if HOA use the same way to mail me the notice and bill with the other owner, when the HOA increased on first time, my partial payment has lead late fee on the balance, I should receive a lot of notice before legal letter. Only one reason, they send the letter to a wrong address.

So when I told them I didn't get any notice about the HOA increase on July, they still didn't looking for why I didn't receive them but only ignored me. (Actually, I should receive the bill not only the notice, but I don't know that is the regular way). On Nov, when I received SECOND bill with a legal letter, I asked them why I can only get the notice (actually it is not a notice, only find among a lot of number by myself) via a legal letter. Nobody answered me.


I think they maybe have found something wrong, but legal letter has been sent. If they admit their fault, HOA would pay the legal fee instead of me. So they choose not to reply to me, only let the legal company threaten me again and again until I yield. Because most people will choose to yield.

Others, please do not imagine it must be my fault, it makes me annoying. I am bored enough. And do not imagine it must be my realtor provided some wrong information etc. Through my case, if you are a HOA manager, and you find a rental home owner paid on time but not adjust price base on the notice for a long time, please looking for or ask what the problem is. Don't tell me you have no time, other action will cost you more time. No rental home owner want to be involved into this issue. If the return isn't ideal, they will sell it out. They won't pay less HOA fee to get more money.

You did well doesn't mean others did well too. If I have fault, I would pay in full at first legal letter. Do you think I am enjoying myself by sticking to my principles with several month's angry?

I have another question, generally,
If legal company didn't sue me and nobody cares my voice, do I have to sue them to resolve this issue at last?
if I sue the HOA...... HOA would pay more to the legal company or their legal package payment has included it to against me.
If judge agree that the legal fee shouldn't be paid by me, who will pay my case's legal fee to legal company/collection company?

Thanks all above response, except for all kinds of distrustful questioning.
Sincerely,
Leanne

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


12/27/2019 5:18 PM  
marking on your next check to the HOA, "Paid in Full".

That will protect you if the HOA sues you.


How about writing on the next check "i dont owe anymore money ever again" Should protect you ehh?

Free legal advice from the internet..... Haha.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:36


12/27/2019 5:25 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/27/2019 4:34 PM
Leanne,

You may do what Paul is recommending, but it will not protect you. Further, following his instructions could cost you even more money.

Anyway, I suspect your condo’s management company has been around a few rodeos. I dunno, perhaps you’ll be the lucky one.

None of this would work with my HOA - if it appeared you were avoiding payment with pseudo legal maneuvering, we would just tell the attorney to solve it. Then you would have even more at stake as our attorney has seen everything - after seeing the gleam in her eyes, I think she enjoys countering this sort of internet legal advice.

Now, it is time for you to place your bet!

Again, please let us know what happens. We might all learn something.




If you can identify which properties you are managing. I would love to let home buyers know about this forum and urge them to check out their property manager's views before buying a home. Thank you.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/27/2019 5:25 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 12/27/2019 5:18 PM
marking on your next check to the HOA, "Paid in Full".

That will protect you if the HOA sues you.


How about writing on the next check "i dont owe anymore money ever again" Should protect you ehh?

Free legal advice from the internet..... Haha.




I'd check the specific state's law and see what it says to write.

Leanne, please let us know how this turns out. I'm pulling for you. It's disappointing that this site describes itself as "[a] positive place" but some participants criticize, doubt and attack. You've handled the attacks very well. I saw GeorgeS21 starting to attack at the beginning of this thread and ignored him after that, so hopefully he's changed and has helped create "[a] positive place" rather than a snake pit in this thread.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/27/2019 6:05 PM  
I can’t wait to hear the outcome!
AugustinD


Posts:3461


12/27/2019 7:15 PM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/27/2019 5:07 PM
I have another question, generally, If legal company didn't sue me and nobody cares my voice, do I have to sue them to resolve this issue at last? if I sue the HOA...... HOA would pay more to the legal company or their legal package payment has included it to against me.
If judge agree that the legal fee shouldn't be paid by me, who will pay my case's legal fee to legal company/collection company?
Leanne, I suggest you take this one step at a time. Start with requesting the hearing with the Board. If and when the Board refuses to give you a hearing, or if the Board ignores your request, I for one will suggest a next step.

GeorgeS21, by "foul" I meant that I think ignoring that the OP has repeatedly tried to pay the assessment owed is kinda unfair. It's good to read that you'd accept the payment as at least a partial payment of money owed. I think that's what HOAs do in general when a member is behind: Accept as much as the member can pay, at least as a start to paying down money owed.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/28/2019 6:53 AM  
Can anyone tell me what Paul is talking about wrt the below comment on seeing names on the left hand side of the screen?
+++++++++++++++

Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/27/2019 1:31 PM


GeorgeS1, I keep seeing your name on the left-hand side of the screen.

Please have the owners of this board ban posters who are violating the rules. If I'm one of the people banned by the owners for violating the rules, then I will accept that and you will be vindicated.


CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1042


12/28/2019 7:04 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/28/2019 6:53 AM
Can anyone tell me what Paul is talking about wrt the below comment on seeing names on the left hand side of the screen?
+++++++++++++++

Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/27/2019 1:31 PM


GeorgeS1, I keep seeing your name on the left-hand side of the screen.

Please have the owners of this board ban posters who are violating the rules. If I'm one of the people banned by the owners for violating the rules, then I will accept that and you will be vindicated.




It looks like an attempt to continue a disagreement.

BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:178


12/28/2019 7:05 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/28/2019 6:53 AM
Can anyone tell me what Paul is talking about wrt the below comment on seeing names on the left hand side of the screen?
+++++++++++++++

Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/27/2019 1:31 PM


GeorgeS1, I keep seeing your name on the left-hand side of the screen.

Please have the owners of this board ban posters who are violating the rules. If I'm one of the people banned by the owners for violating the rules, then I will accept that and you will be vindicated.





He is saying that he is ignoring your messages but on the other hand, not ignoring them because whenever he sees a post from you (your name is in the left column of the post table), he is assuming it's another jab at him, even when it isn't, and posts his stock response, thus annoying every other forum reader that recognizes that responding contradicts ignoring.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/28/2019 7:13 AM  
OK - I thought everyone's "name" was on the left side of the screen - didn't know if I had the wrong profile context and others were seeing stuff I wasn't supposed to have added to my profile.

How else would everyone know who was posting?
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:178


12/28/2019 7:42 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/28/2019 7:13 AM
OK - I thought everyone's "name" was on the left side of the screen - didn't know if I had the wrong profile context and others were seeing stuff I wasn't supposed to have added to my profile.

How else would everyone know who was posting?



Ah, I now understand the question. Substitute "user id" for "name" and it all becomes clear, I hope.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:929


12/28/2019 8:10 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/27/2019 7:15 PM
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/27/2019 5:07 PM
I have another question, generally, If legal company didn't sue me and nobody cares my voice, do I have to sue them to resolve this issue at last? if I sue the HOA...... HOA would pay more to the legal company or their legal package payment has included it to against me.
If judge agree that the legal fee shouldn't be paid by me, who will pay my case's legal fee to legal company/collection company?
Leanne, I suggest you take this one step at a time. Start with requesting the hearing with the Board. If and when the Board refuses to give you a hearing, or if the Board ignores your request, I for one will suggest a next step.

GeorgeS21, by "foul" I meant that I think ignoring that the OP has repeatedly tried to pay the assessment owed is kinda unfair. It's good to read that you'd accept the payment as at least a partial payment of money owed. I think that's what HOAs do in general when a member is behind: Accept as much as the member can pay, at least as a start to paying down money owed.




Yes, exactly. HOAs often accept whatever payment they get. This is why an “accord and satisfaction” will work. In my situation, I followed the state statute to the letter, clearly writing “Paid in Full” on my checks and giving the HOA written notice of the accord and satisfaction statute (and a copy of it) and letting the HOA know what I was doing. The HOA accepted my checks and didn’t do anything to invalidate the accord and satisfaction. Result? The alleged amount owed could not be claimed by the HOA.

For the others who have commented about my posts when I see GeorgeS21’s name: he had said that I was violating the rules of this board. I ignore his posts, but I simply ask that he follow through and have the owners of this board ban me, if they agree. That will validate his position. I look forward to him following through.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2770


12/28/2019 8:21 AM  
Actually, what I quoted was the specific purpose of this website/forum.

I can be more plain - the purpose of the forum is NOT to use pseudo-legal nonsense to screw over your neighbors. What I have seen thus far from Paul relates to this in tone and text. Perhaps it is what happens when one declares oneself to be an attorney so often, and simply cant’t shake it?

I find Paul’s advice counter to the purpose of this forum, and will note, again, there are other fora where the “I hate HOAs” gather to commiserate and complain.

Paul - I can’t recall ... have you been on Boards of your HOA/COA?. Committees? Special project teams to evaluate reserve studies or requirements? Not trying to be smarmy, I just can’t recall and don’t wanna read back through a zillion posts.
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