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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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TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


12/28/2019 12:40 PM  
Writing paid in full on checks and have it be considered binding by a court of law varies by State.

Advice provided by various websites if you receive such a check:

A simple rule of thumb: Don't accept a check that is marked as payment in full unless you are willing to accept the amount as a full and final payment. You should consider the possibility that accepting a check marked as "payment in full" may be legally binding and, even if not, may make it difficult to collect any additional money.

See:

Check Marked “Paid in Full”: To Cash or Not to Cash? 2012 article from CA attorney

'Paid in Full' Check Memo article on Lawyers.com

The Payment-In-Full Check: A Powerful Legal Maneuver 2011 article from a law professor. Talks about NY

Court of Appeals of Mississippi May 2017 ruling

Can you discharge a debt by writing 'Paid in full' on your check? from snopes.com

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/28/2019 1:16 PM  
TimB4 is correct. Each state has specific criteria that need to be followed for it to work, and most states give a creditor a period (such as 90 days) to return the check and thus un-do the accord and satisfaction.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/28/2019 1:27 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/28/2019 8:10 AM
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.
Paul, Leanne has said a few times now that the HOA is not accepting her checks. No doubt this is because the HOA has contracted with a collections attorney or agency. The collections attorney/agency accepted the check for one of her condos. Before Xmas, Leanne reports that both the HOA and the collections attorney/agency are now rejecting her (less than full, in their eyes) payments.

TimB4's citations are helpful and quick reads. They may explain the HOA's and collection attorney's/agency's refusals to accept any payment other than what they claim is owed. CD6's post on page 1 of this thread seems to confirm that HOAs and collection agencies are savvy about what payments to accept, once a debt dispute is in the collections phase.

Maryland's statute on accord and satisfaction appears at https://codes.findlaw.com/md/commercial-law/md-code-com-law-sect-3-311.html . At this time, I do not see much point in continuing to try to get the collections attorney/agency to accept a payment. I think Leanne ought to document the attempts she has made and move on to other approaches to resolve this dispute.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/28/2019 2:23 PM  
AugustinD, you’re correct. Accord and satisfaction works if the check is sent to the address specified by the creditor. In my case, I sent a check to the collections address, marked “paid in full”, and it was accepted. I also sent regular checks for monthly dues, marked “paid in full”, and they were also accepted. If Leanne sends checks for monthly dues to the regular payment address, marked “paid in full”, they mig he be accepted and that might suffice. It might not suffice under state law but it would be a factor against the HOA’s continuing collections efforts. My point is that the HOA likely has multiple places where checks can be sent and at some point someone with the HOA will accept a check marked “paid in full”.

Leanne’s HOA sounds more diligent than my HOA but each time the HOA throws up an obstacle, Leanne should find a workaround.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/28/2019 2:25 PM  
Sorry, to recap my rambling above:

Sending partial checks to the collections/attorney address doesn’t seem to work.

So start sending checks to the regular monthly dues payment address, marked “paid in full”.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/28/2019 3:08 PM  
Right, Paul, keep looking for that pseudo-legal rather than dealing with the issue.

All the while, the interest is accruing.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/28/2019 8:27 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.




Hi Paul,

Today, I try to login previous system which I used for first several month to pay the condo fee, and I found it has been offline.

And I searched a lot information from the HOA's website and I found a new system. Then I searched my email with the key word of the system's name, I found my account ID from an email with title "Maintenance requests are made easy with %&*@#$". The email starts with that system's logo (never heard of it), and there is no specific private information, no community name, home address and my name. Obviously, I didn't read it carefully. If I am not searching it for specific target, I can't find it is related with HOA. However, I can't use the ID in that email to login the new system, the system blogged me with error..

I have sent the request to the system admin.

Back to the topic, the most important, from the other owner's feedback, is I didn't receive notice and statement like him.

Leanne
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/28/2019 10:49 PM  
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.




Thank you! I will request the hearing! (But I have no idea about it right now.)
Today, I went to BOA and got a letter to prove how I paid (full balance-HOA fee) on July and then the payee (HOA company not collection company) returned it.

Background:
They only returned one condo fees, but accepted the other one. I don't know why. Maybe the staff don't know those two condos are all belonged to me. So this condo's payment-autopay still was accepted without any return action by now.)

From that letter, I got the first bill from a flat letter since I own my condo. I reviewed collection company's website, they have more than 60 lawyer.

If I hadn't consulted here, I would have never known that other owners would receive notification letters and bills. And I became that unlucky person. After receiving the first bill from the collection company, every time I asked how I would know if your price had risen so that I could adjust the amount of the automatic payment, no one told me.

Today, I double confirmed with my tenant, if he has received some letters related HOA or bill, he answered me no, never. Since Sep 2018, he has been living there more than 1 year. During this period, the HOA has been changed 2 times, May 2019-8.77%; Sep 2019-12.1%. Last increase happened at May 2018-13%.

When I send the hearing request letter, do I need add an attach letter with more detail information about how I paid the HOA from the top and why I have never received any notice about increase and statement?

George,

You always say HOA will show the evidence that they have informed the owners, Could you please let me know what kind of evidence, if other owner get the notice letters but I have never? I feel my HOA think the same way as you.

You can do role play here to give me some positive help, please.

And suppose I got the letters from HOA for a long time, a lot of late fee, I ignored all of them. But when the first flat collection letter came to me, I paid them in full at once. And contacted with HOA and explained, ask for waive other fees. Do you think it is a normal action? Would a letter from collection company be so useful?

It doesn't make sense I pay partially when I know the HOA has been increased, because I earned from this small business, right? How do the HOA manager like you think this activity? Am I an idiot?
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/28/2019 11:01 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/28/2019 2:23 PM
AugustinD, you’re correct. Accord and satisfaction works if the check is sent to the address specified by the creditor. In my case, I sent a check to the collections address, marked “paid in full”, and it was accepted. I also sent regular checks for monthly dues, marked “paid in full”, and they were also accepted. If Leanne sends checks for monthly dues to the regular payment address, marked “paid in full”, they mig he be accepted and that might suffice. It might not suffice under state law but it would be a factor against the HOA’s continuing collections efforts. My point is that the HOA likely has multiple places where checks can be sent and at some point someone with the HOA will accept a check marked “paid in full”.

Leanne’s HOA sounds more diligent than my HOA but each time the HOA throws up an obstacle, Leanne should find a workaround.




Hi Paul,
Yes, I should resolved them earlier.
Just because I thought I was innocent from the beginning, I could n’t understand and accept HOA ’s practice and tried to argue and wait for their response, so it was delayed until now. I never thought it was such a big deal, because I did not receive any notice and how to pay in full. So when I knew the truth, I paid for it at once. Unexpectedly, the other side completely ignored.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/28/2019 11:38 PM  
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.

----------------------




Hi Augustin,
I read this paragraph in the Aug's letter of collection company as below:

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT UNDER MARYLAND LAW, MD REAL PROP. CODE ANN.' 14-203(C), YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO FILE A COMPLAINT AND REQUEST A HEARING IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE COUNTY IN WHICH YOUR PROPERTY OR ANY PART OF YOUR PROPERTY IS LOCATED WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THIS NOTICE IS SERVED TO DETERMINE WHETHER PROBABLE CAUSE EXISTS TO ESTABLISH THIS LIEN.

Is there any relationship or conflict with your advice? Sorry, I am totally a new bird on law and official process. I have never met this kind of issue before.

In the recent letter, Dec 24, without those words as above, they only replied my questions, but only 2 points in my email: why I paid but they refused; why charge me legal fee. Not mention that why I can't receive any notice and how can I get the notice about HOA changing and statement before collection company was hired.

Another question is, the bill from collection company on Oct charged me future HOA fee from Oct 2019 to Apr 2020. I think maybe the next increase date would be May 2020. But why do they collect far future HOA fee?

Should I reply this collect company and the HOA manager and their supervisor or CEO or someone high level to tell the whole story? And continue to request the evidence about how they send me all the notice before request hearing? (Because before, I don't know they do send the letter notice and statement. I didn't know what kind of way they use.)

Thank you!
Leanne

AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/29/2019 7:32 AM  
Hi Leanne,

Your Condominium Association (and not the collection company) was supposed to offer you a hearing long before the collection company wrote you about the later option to file in circuit court. Specifically, the Maryland Condominium Act permits your Condo Board to do the following: "To impose charges for late payment of assessments and, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, levy reasonable fines for violations of the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations of the council of unit owners, under § 11-113 of this title;" See Section 11-109 (d)(16) at https://sos.maryland.gov/Documents/CondominiumBooklet.pdf . The key phrase is "after notice and opportunity to be heard." "Notice" means the Condominium Association (or its Board) is supposed to formally write you that it offers you a hearing to contest their ruling that you are delinquent in paying assessments.

In my opinion, you need to send a letter requesting this hearing. I would use the wording I suggested, with Paul's addition:
---------------------
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 the Condominium Association's demand for legal fees and late fees. This is because I was neither given notice nor offered a hearing before that demand was made.

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]
----------------------

Again, send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested to the management company.

If possible, try to confirm that the management company is in fact the "registered agent" for your condominium association.

Let's see if the Board responds to your request. If it does not, then I think documenting that you asked for a hearing, yet the board would not give you a hearing, is important.

Regarding the various online mechanisms the association has set up: I would print out everything that documents (more or less) that the system has glitches in it. Date the copies. Put them in your notebook of documentation. To me, these apparent glitches are evidence that whatever entity set up this online system did not know what it was doing. Meaning this might start to explain why you did not get notices from the condominium association.

I could speculate about how the August notice from the collection company (about filing in Circuit Court) relates to the Maryland law requirement for notice from the condominium association (offering you a hearing). But such speculation is probably not a good use of space at this time.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/29/2019 7:53 AM  
Leanne, while you are waiting for a response to your letter asking for a hearing, I think you should go to one of the free legal clinics in your area. This site says that there are two in January in Silver Spring, Maryland: https://www.peoples-law.org/calendar/202001 . One is on Saturday January 4 and another is on Saturday, Jan 18. Licensed attorneys volunteer at such clinics. State bars typically urge attorneys to work a few hours each month pro bono, helping those who cannot afford an attorney.

Alternatively, you could hire an attorney. The free legal clinic may be able to quickly identify attorneys specialized in debt collection challenges.

To me, one of the biggest problems is that the condominium association and collections company are not letting you pay anything at this time, unless it is for all of the legal fees and assessments allegedly owed. So every month, more legal fees, interest and late fees are accumulating. To solve this problem, I think you need to talk with an attorney licensed in Maryland specialized in dealing with debt collection.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/29/2019 9:41 AM  
AugustinD is correct.

If I may, please allow me to point out that a hearing (with your HOA board) should have been given to you before the HOA demanded legal fees from you.

If you weren’t given the right to a hearing back then, it may be too late for the HOA; it can’t necessarily fix its mistake by giving you a new hearing.

During my HOA dispute, the HOA imposed fines on me and did not offer a hearing. I let the HOA know that it had failed to give a hearing to me. The HOA then offered a hearing, but I let the HOA know that a new hearing didn’t suffice (as the governing documents required notice and a hearing before imposing fines, not afterwards), and that further the HOA couldn’t try to follow the law by withdrawing the fines and then offering a new hearing before re-imposing the fines.

So in my case, the HOA ended up withdrawing the fines because it hadn’t given a hearing to me before imposing them. The HOA couldn’t fix its mistake.

So you may want to request a discussion with the HOA board. But make it clear that you hadn’t received notice of a hearing, so the discussion would not be considered a valid hearing re: imposition of legal fees, since it’s too late for that.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/29/2019 9:51 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/29/2019 9:41 AM
AugustinD is correct.

If I may, please allow me to point out that a hearing (with your HOA board) should have been given to you before the HOA demanded legal fees from you.

If you weren’t given the right to a hearing back then, it may be too late for the HOA; it can’t necessarily fix its mistake by giving you a new hearing.

During my HOA dispute, the HOA imposed fines on me and did not offer a hearing. I let the HOA know that it had failed to give a hearing to me. The HOA then offered a hearing, but I let the HOA know that a new hearing didn’t suffice (as the governing documents required notice and a hearing before imposing fines, not afterwards), and that further the HOA couldn’t try to follow the law by withdrawing the fines and then offering a new hearing before re-imposing the fines.

So in my case, the HOA ended up withdrawing the fines because it hadn’t given a hearing to me before imposing them. The HOA couldn’t fix its mistake.

So you may want to request a discussion with the HOA board. But make it clear that you hadn’t received notice of a hearing, so the discussion would not be considered a valid hearing re: imposition of legal fees, since it’s too late for that.
I agree with PaulJ6 that taking the position he describes above promises to weigh heavily (and then some) in Leanne's legal favor. Well said and well-argued, PaulJ6.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/29/2019 2:13 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/28/2019 3:08 PM
Right, Paul, keep looking for that pseudo-legal rather than dealing with the issue.

All the while, the interest is accruing.




Hi George,

Would you like to give some comments on this case? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5HrHDCPHc

And reviewe those comments under the video.
Building a "positive" place here is just build a echo wall for HOAselves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5HrHDCPHc

Today, I learned more from internet, I know why HOAs are so fearless and why they always ignore most home owners' voice. Because HOAs have super power and attorney's support whose labor fee was paid by all the home owners. The HOAs don't have to take any responsibility even they did something wrong.

There are so much hatred words, news or posts from homeowners on internet. Why did the situation turn into this such negative atmosphere for HOA? Are the homeowners always wrong? I believe the owner of this website want to change it through building this place to help HOAs to discuss some issue, correct the shortcoming and get more progress, definitely not how to against house owners only with more legal fee or foreclosure's threaten.

I also found a post with the title "Ending lawsuit with shameless HOA" (in another language). Very similar case with me, even worse situation than mine. Because she has never paid anything since she bought that house, because she didn't receive any bill until a legal letter. Finally, she won.

So please BE NICE to others and be a respected HOA! Don't let others talk behind your back.
Thank you.
Leanne
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/29/2019 2:32 PM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/29/2019 2:13 PM
Would you like to give some comments on this case? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5HrHDCPHc
Good one. Maybe send this to your condo's board?


PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/29/2019 2:45 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/29/2019 2:32 PM
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/29/2019 2:13 PM
Would you like to give some comments on this case? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5HrHDCPHc
Good one. Maybe send this to your condo's board?






Agreed. How disastrous for the HOA, represented by an attorney, to go after a homeowner who is not represented by an attorney (and who isn't an attorney), and for the HOA to lose in court.

Hopefully that HOA lawyer was fired, but I'm guessing not.

Leanne, I think that you have enough to go on here so that if the HOA does go after you, it won't necessarily win. You have some good defenses.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/29/2019 2:49 PM  
I would be interested in what happens.

Please let us know.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/29/2019 2:52 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/29/2019 2:49 PM
I would be interested in what happens.

Please let us know.




No comments? It's not your style. Please.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/29/2019 2:54 PM  
Another red flag.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/29/2019 3:44 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/29/2019 2:45 PM

Regarding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5HrHDCPHc

How disastrous for the HOA, represented by an attorney, to go after a homeowner who is not represented by an attorney (and who isn't an attorney), and for the HOA to lose in court.

Good point.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


12/29/2019 4:24 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/29/2019 9:51 AM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/29/2019 9:41 AM
AugustinD is correct.

If I may, please allow me to point out that a hearing (with your HOA board) should have been given to you before the HOA demanded legal fees from you.

If you weren’t given the right to a hearing back then, it may be too late for the HOA; it can’t necessarily fix its mistake by giving you a new hearing.

During my HOA dispute, the HOA imposed fines on me and did not offer a hearing. I let the HOA know that it had failed to give a hearing to me. The HOA then offered a hearing, but I let the HOA know that a new hearing didn’t suffice (as the governing documents required notice and a hearing before imposing fines, not afterwards), and that further the HOA couldn’t try to follow the law by withdrawing the fines and then offering a new hearing before re-imposing the fines.

So in my case, the HOA ended up withdrawing the fines because it hadn’t given a hearing to me before imposing them. The HOA couldn’t fix its mistake.

So you may want to request a discussion with the HOA board. But make it clear that you hadn’t received notice of a hearing, so the discussion would not be considered a valid hearing re: imposition of legal fees, since it’s too late for that.
I agree with PaulJ6 that taking the position he describes above promises to weigh heavily (and then some) in Leanne's legal favor. Well said and well-argued, PaulJ6.




I am divided on Paul's posting. Many are good points, many are just him bytching. I guess, take the good with the bad applies to Paul.

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/29/2019 4:40 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 12/29/2019 4:24 PM
I am divided on Paul's posting. Many are good points, many are just him bytching. I guess, take the good with the bad applies to Paul.





Understood. I'll concede that I despise HOAs. I ought to do a better job of being objective. But I have successfully gone through a court battle, so I just like sharing my lessons, to help others.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/29/2019 4:53 PM  
Paul,

Great quote to use when folks are looking for credible advice and you provide your typical inputs about HOAs.

I do think you’d have more personal perspective reinforcement and chuckles on an anti-HOA site.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 7:26 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/29/2019 9:41 AM
During my HOA dispute, the HOA imposed fines on me and did not offer a hearing. I let the HOA know that it had failed to give a hearing to me. The HOA then offered a hearing, but I let the HOA know that a new hearing didn’t suffice (as the governing documents required notice and a hearing before imposing fines, not afterwards), and that further the HOA couldn’t try to follow the law by withdrawing the fines and then offering a new hearing before re-imposing the fines.

So in my case, the HOA ended up withdrawing the fines because it hadn’t given a hearing to me before imposing them. The HOA couldn’t fix its mistake.
Here's the way I see the above approach playing out in Leanne's case:

-- Assume the condominium cannot prove it gave Leanne notice of the assessment increases. There is no record of statements going to her. There is no newsletter, and so on. (Anyone begging to differ: Last I heard, when a credit card company went to court to try to collect on money it said was owed it and said the debtor was repeatedly snail mailed notices of overdue payment, but produced no proof of the snail mailed notices, the credit card company lost.)

-- Assume the condominium cannot prove that it offered the statutorily required hearing prior to the HOA imposing fees and interest for late payment.

-- The condominium offers the hearing, and the agreed upon date is Feb 15, 2020.

-- Leanne appears, checkbook in hand. She addresses the board: "Respectfully, Directors, I set up auto pay from my bank account so I would never have a late payment. When the Board raised the assessment, I received no notice of this raise. I have persistently tried to pay the amount of assessments owed. But the HOA and the collections company have repeatedly rejected the payments I have sent them. Directors, state law requires that I be given a hearing before fees and interest are imposed. This is a part of 'due process.' Had this board given me the hearing that state law requires // before // the board imposes fees and interest, I would have instantly paid the amount of the assessments owed. The dispute would no longer exist, and the board would never have sent this matter to a collections company. This is because what was owed would have been paid in full at the board's hearing. So a collections company would not have anything to collect. Directors, here is a check for the amount of assessments owed. Please accept it as 'payment in full.' " [Leanne then gives them a check with "Paid in Full" written on it.]
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/30/2019 7:54 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/30/2019 7:26 AM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/29/2019 9:41 AM
During my HOA dispute, the HOA imposed fines on me and did not offer a hearing. I let the HOA know that it had failed to give a hearing to me. The HOA then offered a hearing, but I let the HOA know that a new hearing didn’t suffice (as the governing documents required notice and a hearing before imposing fines, not afterwards), and that further the HOA couldn’t try to follow the law by withdrawing the fines and then offering a new hearing before re-imposing the fines.

So in my case, the HOA ended up withdrawing the fines because it hadn’t given a hearing to me before imposing them. The HOA couldn’t fix its mistake.
Here's the way I see the above approach playing out in Leanne's case:

-- Assume the condominium cannot prove it gave Leanne notice of the assessment increases. There is no record of statements going to her. There is no newsletter, and so on. (Anyone begging to differ: Last I heard, when a credit card company went to court to try to collect on money it said was owed it and said the debtor was repeatedly snail mailed notices of overdue payment, but produced no proof of the snail mailed notices, the credit card company lost.)

-- Assume the condominium cannot prove that it offered the statutorily required hearing prior to the HOA imposing fees and interest for late payment.

-- The condominium offers the hearing, and the agreed upon date is Feb 15, 2020.

-- Leanne appears, checkbook in hand. She addresses the board: "Respectfully, Directors, I set up auto pay from my bank account so I would never have a late payment. When the Board raised the assessment, I received no notice of this raise. I have persistently tried to pay the amount of assessments owed. But the HOA and the collections company have repeatedly rejected the payments I have sent them. Directors, state law requires that I be given a hearing before fees and interest are imposed. This is a part of 'due process.' Had this board given me the hearing that state law requires // before // the board imposes fees and interest, I would have instantly paid the amount of the assessments owed. The dispute would no longer exist, and the board would never have sent this matter to a collections company. This is because what was owed would have been paid in full at the board's hearing. So a collections company would not have anything to collect. Directors, here is a check for the amount of assessments owed. Please accept it as 'payment in full.' " [Leanne then gives them a check with "Paid in Full" written on it.]




Hi Augustin,
Really appreciate your help!
I have found 108 emails from HOA. There is only one back and forth letters response to my bill request after I bought the condo several month. And the statement shows that I missed some due date before but have paid over than I should pay. And I replied to HOA, "Sure, I will pay on time." Then, nothing relates bill. After then, I choose to use online banking autopay.

And I did an excel form listing my payment which shows every 1st of the month I paid with the same amount instead of the bill from legal which has too much late fee and others. Also, I indicated that I sent all the balance on July and August and they returned them. Then I sent check in person, they refused and legal company mailed them back on Dec.

I am saving those evidence, and then attach the official advice from you and Paul.

This is not a question of money but of dignity. I obviously paid on time, but unfortunately became the target of the debt collection company. I will stick to the end, even go to the court.

Sincerely
Leanne


PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 7:58 AM  
LeanneM1, if I were you I'd send a regular check to the HOA for monthly dues, at the address where checks for monthly dues are sent. (Not the law firm and not the collection company.) Mark that check "Paid in Full". I'd do that at least once or twice instead of autopay. That's a step towards having an "accord and satisfaction".

LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/30/2019 8:04 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/30/2019 7:58 AM
LeanneM1, if I were you I'd send a regular check to the HOA for monthly dues, at the address where checks for monthly dues are sent. (Not the law firm and not the collection company.) Mark that check "Paid in Full". I'd do that at least once or twice instead of autopay. That's a step towards having an "accord and satisfaction".





Yes, but it is too late. Right now, HOA refuses me to pay or discuss anything, only let me go to legal company, "we have transferred your case", no matter what kind of payment.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 8:10 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/30/2019 7:54 AM
This is not a question of money but of dignity. I obviously paid on time, but unfortunately became the target of the debt collection company. I will stick to the end, even go to the court.
Leanne, I would feel exactly as you do. Also I think you are doing your fellow condominium owners there a great service by insisting the Board send out proper notice, including providing notice of an opportunity to be heard.

Way to go with the spreadsheet. Your attention to detail will be key to your success. If possible, keep all the emails you have intact on the email server. The courts expect this. Printed out copies of emails, or copy and pasted copies, do not suffice. Else I think the toughest part of legal disputes is getting into a mode of taking it all step-by-legal-step, so that the wheels of "process" turn correctly (albeit slowly). I advise being automaton-like. Send the request for a hearing with the board pursuant to Maryland statute. Wait for the deadline to pass. Try not to think much about all this until that deadline passes. If it passes without your receiving a response, do consider posting back for suggestions on the next step to take. Do consider one of the free legal clinics or checking in with an attorney, specialized in debt collections issues, that you pay to consult for an hour or so.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 8:19 AM  
LeanneM1, I would also document:

1. Violations by the HOA of its bylaws and other governing documents. Example: not giving you a hearing before the legal fees were demanded.

2. Violations by the debt collection company and law firm of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and similar Maryland laws. A summary is at https://www.hopb.co/blog/abusive-hoa-debt-collection-practices-fdcpa

This HOA sounds very aggressive, so you'll need all of the defenses that you can get.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/30/2019 8:25 AM  
Leanne,

I would recommend you meet with the COA law firm representative and develop a plan to pay. This may be poor advice if the information you gave us 100% accurate ... even a little thing, like the notices going to the rental address and being tossed out by your renters because they are angry with you in some way, could be the bash’s for you losing.

Many herein are advising you to fight the process ... given their advice, you apparently are doing this.

You might consider asking those advising this action, to share your legal fees and the interest that is a accruing while you buck the process.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 8:29 AM  
LeanneM1,

If I were you, I'd also have an initial consultation with a lawyer who has experience in fighting HOAs. This doesn't mean that you have to hire the lawyer, and it should be free (perhaps a 15-minute phone call). Since the HOA is using a lawyer against you, I'd recommend talking to a local one and getting some preliminary feedback on your situation.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 9:07 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/30/2019 8:19 AM
This HOA sounds very aggressive [...]
Maybe so. I for one am thinking Leanne's condo's management and board are more likely slovenly.

Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/30/2019 8:25 AM
You might consider asking those advising this action, to share your legal fees and the interest that is a accruing while you buck the process.
[smile] And George, you should write Leanne's Board and let them know you advise them to dig in, and that you will pay the legal fees, collection fees and interest if they turn out to be wrong (while the board bucks the process).
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:827


12/30/2019 9:51 AM  
Mercy, I wouldn't be betting any money on the outcome of this. I KNOW I don't have the full picture...

One thing that bothers me is that the OP says that she has not received notices of the increased assessments or late fees or any hearings, etc. Either the HOA is run by overly aggressive incompetents... or they truly don't have valid contact information for her.

I wouldn't want to show up in court with my spreadsheets and whatnot, only to discover that the HOA has a pile of returned mail demonstrating that they have followed correct procedures to the letter.

** pulls up a chair, grabs a box of popcorn, and waits for the latest installment ** :-)
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 10:18 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 12/30/2019 9:51 AM
One thing that bothers me is that the OP says that she has not received notices of the increased assessments or late fees or any hearings, etc. Either the HOA is run by overly aggressive incompetents... or they truly don't have valid contact information for her.
The reason I am not bothered is because Leanne has checked and identified that the HOA does have her correct email address and snail mail address.

I think there are other reasons notices did not reach Leanne. Like a software glitch. Leanne wrote that she identified multiple problems with the online system.

She sounds like she has been meticulous in trying to find out why she has no notice. Everything to me points to a glitch by management.

Importantly to me, Leanne's having set up autopay for many months prior to this dispute makes me think she would never pay late on purpose.

Posted By CathyA3 on 12/30/2019 9:51 AM
I wouldn't want to show up in court with my spreadsheets and whatnot, only to discover that the HOA has a pile of returned mail demonstrating that they have followed correct procedures to the letter.
If the board does not give Leanne a hearing, and Leanne wants to go to court, I think the several month exchange of demand letters between Leanne and the HOA attorney will identify whether such returned mail exists. Also if the returned mail does exist, why didn't the HOA go to the trouble of finding out what is going on? Contrary to the opinion of some here, and consistent with what you described at your HOA (upon advice of your HOA's attorney), I think the HOA had a fiduciary obligation to call and email her. The HOA management and board did not. Instead, they decided to spend an extraordinary amount of money on a collections company.

George is being cute with his challenge. Back atcha, George. [wink]
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 10:39 AM  
I still think that Leanne needs some more defenses to be able to get the HOA to back off.

The HOA having the correct address in its system will surely be used by the HOA to say, "See, Leanne, we had your address right!"

I'd look at bylaw violations and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations. Throwing those at the HOA and its counsel and collection agency might suffice.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 10:42 AM  
Posted By CD6 on 12/26/2019 8:03 AM
Once it is turned over to an attorney or collection agency, [the HOA?] cannot accept any form of payment.
Suppose a judge is presiding over a debt dispute between a HOA and a HOA member. At a hearing, the member tells the judge that she had sent checks to first the HOA and then the collections company by certified mail for all assessments owed to date. The member did not write "paid in full" or attempt any other legal maneuver. The member merely wanted to stay up to date on her assessments.

In front of the judge, the member and the HOA agree that the HOA and collections company had repeatedly refused any payment whatsoever. The HOA says that, per its governing documents, it went ahead and charged interest, collection company fees, and legal fees to deal with the amount in arrears. The HOA says the amount in arrears is the assessments plus interest and fees to collect.

Not for a minute do I think a judge would order the member to pay the interest and legal fees on the assessment amounts that the member had repeatedly submitted. Furthermore, if I were the judge, as punishment of the HOA, I would likely order the HOA to accept all assessments owed as full payment of the debt. Why? Because it is not reasonable to let interest and fees continue to accrue on money that the member has repeatedly tried to pay the HOA.

I think there must be more to what CD6 posted. If someone has a citation, I would like to see it.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 10:45 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/30/2019 10:39 AM
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations.


I have looked at the FDCPA a few times now. Maybe the collections company has committed violations. But there is nothing in this thread that leads me to believe this is so. Do you see something, Paul?
MarkW18
(Florida)

Posts:706


12/30/2019 10:58 AM  
Some of the responses, especially from poor old George should be on Comedy Central.

First, the OP said they were put on autopay. There are two types of autopay, one where a owner will setup with their bank or the HOA bank and have payments sent on a regular basis automatically. The owner sets the payment amount and would need to change if the HOA increased their dues. The other autopay is ACH where the HOA takes out the dues automatically on the same day every month. If there is an increase the HOA automatically takes cares of the increase in the billing. The owner doesn't (shouldn't) have to worry about not being notified about an increase.

The other issue is the management or whoever manages sending out billing and notices. Many will charge chage and collect late fees and other fees prior to an owner paying. This becomes a problem where trying to waive fees, the HOA is already out the money. The same thing happens with management and attorney relationships. The attorney is paid up front with HOA funds so a management company or attorney ain't giving the money back.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 11:14 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/30/2019 10:45 AM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/30/2019 10:39 AM
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations.


I have looked at the FDCPA a few times now. Maybe the collections company has committed violations. But there is nothing in this thread that leads me to believe this is so. Do you see something, Paul?




Not yet, but if you go through all of the lawyer's and collection company's correspondence and communications, I'm guessing that you might be able to find something.
DaveP8
(Oklahoma)

Posts:15


12/30/2019 11:33 AM  
I can't relate to monthly dues payments as our HOA dues are only $300 annually. However, if an owner fails to pay the dues by the due date, we send a courtesy letter reminding them that we have not received payment. After the courtesy letter, all other correspondence is sent certified with return receipt so we have a record of both mailing and receipt. A lien is filed after 45 days past due and the owner is notified via certified mail. Handing an account over to a collections agency is not in the best interest of the HOA as the collection agency takes a percentage of whatever is collected (usually 40%).

If dues are increased, it is posted on the HOA web site and in the board meeting minutes. The annual invoices sent out indicate the new amount and due date.

I've got to ask: How much were your monthly dues and how much did they go up? How much are the legal fees/penalties etc? Just trying to get an idea of how much $$ the HOA is going after. You don't have to answer if you don't want to.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/30/2019 12:51 PM  
Ha, perhaps I should try the comedy thing. Thanks, Mark - I still really appreciate your thoughts and opinions about non-HOA/COA/POA subjects.

So, this has dragged on forever - while we don't have proof the OP is providing accurate information, and we certainly don't have proof the COA has actually done/not done those things the OP has said, and we absolutely have zero ground truth from - well, anyone - I would suggest setting the OP up to potentially fail in court, based on one's opinions on this site, is unfair to that OP - even if they don't seem to fully understand the danger. Getting Leanne excited because she has a few folks, and even an internet attorney, offering her supportive thoughts, seems unfair to her - without some offset and skin in the game by those so easily telling her to go to court.

I continue to be hopeful the OP will work out something with the collecting attorney - and I am really hopeful Leanne doesn't go to court and lose (she could win, right?) - start to finish, that could be $5,000-10,000, or so? (question - how does Maryland treat winner attorney fees? Varies by state, right?)
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 3:19 PM  
Leanne, to be sure to win this, you need to assume that the HOA did send notices and that you received them. In short, assume that the HOA will win every argument that it makes.

So you need every single defense possible to win. Yes, you've looked through the FDCPA and I've read some posts on an Internet forum, and neither of us has seen anything that clearly is a violation of the FDCPA. But we need to go deeper and analyze every single communication from the HOA's lawyer and collection agency. We also need to analyze the HOA's governing documents and the HOA's actions in light of them, to determine what parts of the bylaws have been violated. That isn't really possible on an Internet message board- it takes getting good legal help in real life.

So I'd recommend talking to friends who are lawyers, maybe a lawyer in an initial consultation and anything else you can do, and get prepared, extensively.

You need to have impenetrable defenses to be sure to win. Getting good legal guidance in real life can do that.

MarkW18
(Florida)

Posts:706


12/30/2019 3:50 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/30/2019 12:51 PM
Ha, perhaps I should try the comedy thing. Thanks, Mark - I still really appreciate your thoughts and opinions about non-HOA/COA/POA subjects.

So, this has dragged on forever - while we don't have proof the OP is providing accurate information, and we certainly don't have proof the COA has actually done/not done those things the OP has said, and we absolutely have zero ground truth from - well, anyone - I would suggest setting the OP up to potentially fail in court, based on one's opinions on this site, is unfair to that OP - even if they don't seem to fully understand the danger. Getting Leanne excited because she has a few folks, and even an internet attorney, offering her supportive thoughts, seems unfair to her - without some offset and skin in the game by those so easily telling her to go to court.

I continue to be hopeful the OP will work out something with the collecting attorney - and I am really hopeful Leanne doesn't go to court and lose (she could win, right?) - start to finish, that could be $5,000-10,000, or so? (question - how does Maryland treat winner attorney fees? Varies by state, right?)



So George, in cony=tinuing to make this a "Positive Place for community association leader" you now resort to calling people liars because they don't live up to your definition of a "good" association member!
AugustinD


Posts:2906


12/30/2019 4:42 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/30/2019 12:51 PM
how does Maryland treat winner attorney fees? Varies by state, right?


I do not think it varies meaningfully by state. Just saying: My understanding is that, nationwide, the losing side pays the winning side's attorney fees only if either (a) a statute specifies thusly for a specific type of claim brought in court; (b) a contract between the two parties specifies thusly; or (c) the judge believes one party has acted frivolously or in bad faith for a particular action, unfairly costing the other party attorney fees. The belief is that requiring the losing side to pay the winning side's attorney fees deters people who have valid legal claims from bringing suit. (Of course, just having to pay one's own attorney is usually deterrent enough for a person to bring suit. This is even when the law appears to be on that person's side.) From the HOA case law I have read, awards of attorney fees seem to be a frequent subject of appeal, quite apart from the main dispute. Parsing of statutes that award attorney's fees is done meticulously. E. g. see the case law cited at https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Attorneys-Fees

For a recent contract dispute that made it to court where I am, I saw this in action. The judge ordered the losing party to pay a few thousand dollars of the winning side's attorney fees, on account of (c) above. The winning party had spent in excess of $25,000 on his attorney fees, so it's not like the winning party won much except validation of his character in a contract dispute.

"Attorney fees" here refers to the actual cost of one side to bring suit. The attorney fees that accumulated to collect a debt pre-litigation are distinct from the latter.

DaveP8, thanks for the informative post and good questions (which as you noted, Leanne is under no obligation to answer).
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 5:11 PM  
AugustinD is correct.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


12/30/2019 5:37 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/30/2019 4:42 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/30/2019 12:51 PM
how does Maryland treat winner attorney fees? Varies by state, right?


I do not think it varies meaningfully by state. Just saying: My understanding is that, nationwide, the losing side pays the winning side's attorney fees only if either (a) a statute specifies thusly for a specific type of claim brought in court; (b) a contract between the two parties specifies thusly; or (c) the judge believes one party has acted frivolously or in bad faith for a particular action, unfairly costing the other party attorney fees. The belief is that requiring the losing side to pay the winning side's attorney fees deters people who have valid legal claims from bringing suit. (Of course, just having to pay one's own attorney is usually deterrent enough for a person to bring suit. This is even when the law appears to be on that person's side.) From the HOA case law I have read, awards of attorney fees seem to be a frequent subject of appeal, quite apart from the main dispute. Parsing of statutes that award attorney's fees is done meticulously. E. g. see the case law cited at https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Attorneys-Fees

For a recent contract dispute that made it to court where I am, I saw this in action. The judge ordered the losing party to pay a few thousand dollars of the winning side's attorney fees, on account of (c) above. The winning party had spent in excess of $25,000 on his attorney fees, so it's not like the winning party won much except validation of his character in a contract dispute.

"Attorney fees" here refers to the actual cost of one side to bring suit. The attorney fees that accumulated to collect a debt pre-litigation are distinct from the latter.

DaveP8, thanks for the informative post and good questions (which as you noted, Leanne is under no obligation to answer).




I found the pdf coupon when I bought the condo, my realtor gave it to me. The coupon indicates the same price for every month May 2017 to Apri 2018. However, they increased HOA on Jan 2018 and I set up autopay account on Dec 2017.
Is it a useful evidence?

I have come back to the HOA's system to check and I found the price changed since Jan and I adjusted my payment price base on the new price showing on the system (not from a notice but records history). So I started to pay the new price since Mar 2018.

After several month, I came back again but the system can't be used, the page showing error or updating something I forgot. So I didn't use the system again. I think if I have something wrong, I will get notice or bill like other companies do, but obviously I was wrong.

After Mar 2018, there are 3 increase, May 2018, May 2019, Sep 2019. And the legal letter came on Jul 2019.
Then I tried to pay at the first time for all balance (except for legal fee). Condo no1's check was returned, but condo no2's was accepted. And then continue accepted.

Since July 2019, I argued with them and confirmed the contact information. However, I still can't receive any notice about the Sep 2019's increase. It leads condo no2's partially pay again...........I know it from the Nov legal letter's bill! It made me crazy!! Did they do it on purpose?

These days, I checked every email and found their online system has transferred to another website. But no mandatory use request. I was blocked there. I have sent request for login information.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


12/30/2019 5:43 PM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/30/2019 5:37 PM
Condo no1's check was returned, but condo no2's was accepted. And then continue accepted.




Great- then you can hopefully do an accord and satisfaction. Keep mailing in paper checks and mark them "paid in full".
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


12/30/2019 7:46 PM  
Leanne,

Please let us know what happens - try and stay out of court, unless you have a lot of money.
LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


01/01/2020 9:09 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 12/30/2019 5:37 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 12/30/2019 4:42 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/30/2019 12:51 PM
how does Maryland treat winner attorney fees? Varies by state, right?



"Attorney fees" here refers to the actual cost of one side to bring suit. The attorney fees that accumulated to collect a debt pre-litigation are distinct from the latter.

DaveP8, thanks for the informative post and good questions (which as you noted, Leanne is under no obligation to answer).




After Mar 2018, there are 3 increase, May 2018, May 2019, Sep 2019. And the legal letter came on Jul 2019.
Then I tried to pay at the first time for all balance (except for legal fee). Condo no1's check was returned, but condo no2's was accepted. And then continue accepted.

Since July 2019, I argued with them and confirmed the contact information. However, I still can't receive any notice about the Sep 2019's increase. It leads condo no2's partially pay again...........I know it from the Nov legal letter's bill! It made me crazy!! Did they do it on purpose?




Dear Augstin, Paul, and George,
I changed another bank account to send the check for condo No2's monthly HOA fee on Jan 1st.
And today I got an auto email titled with "Monthly Rental Receipt", from a Virginia apartment which I have never heard of it. And I didn't receive any feedback emails from HOA before when my payment was sent.

"Dear XXX
This email confirms we have received your auto payment. Please review the payment information below and keep this email for your personal records.

PAYMENT INFORMATION
Receipt number:
XXXXXXX

Payment Account used:
XXXXXXX EFT ****-XXXX

Total Payment Amount:
$XXX.00"

Another sentence on the page end "This is an auto-generated email. Please do not reply to this email."
I used the email to search that I found it is here :https://www.anniebrosehouse.com/brochure.aspx

In addition, I found this article and I started to know why Goerge always skeptical what others people said.
https://www.businessinsider.com/are-hoa-foreclosures-a-necessary-tool-or-an-extortion-racket-2010-7

Another case in it:
"In May 2006, the Arizona Republic reported what happened to Stacy Mobbs, who had accumulated delinquent HOA dues of $343.02. After ignoring delinquent notices until the previous September, Mobbs received notice of a lien which her HOA had filed against her in Superior Court. In response, she brought a cashier's check for the full amount due -- $1,479.68 - to the HOA office where she was given a receipt showing that the balance had been paid in full.

Within days, the HOA's attorney had the check returned to her. He explained that the HOA had no right to collect the money and that she actually owed even more. Mobbs requested that she be allowed to bring the matter directly to the HOA board at its next meeting. The attorney refused the request and sent her emails indicating that she could speak only to him.

Fed up with these actions, Mobbs filed a civil suit as well as a complaint against the attorney with the state Bar in March 2006. Finally, the Superior Court judge ruled on May 12 that Mobbs had to pay the delinquent dues plus interest - a total of $370. He ruled that the attorney could collect no attorney's fees.

In an unusual action, the judge also included an entry in which he called the case "an example of the risk to the public of abusive litigation practices gone amok. The court is simply a forum for the resolution of disputes, not a weapon to be used to generate leveraged fee awards." He also forwarded this entry describing the attorney's conduct to the state Bar."

I am still trying to do the last action before going to court. No one wants to go to court unless forced to.

Thank you all.
Leanne
Do you know what this mean?
AugustinD


Posts:2906


01/01/2020 10:00 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 01/01/2020 9:09 AM
I changed another bank account to send the check for condo No2's monthly HOA fee on Jan 1st. And today I got an auto email titled with "Monthly Rental Receipt", from a Virginia apartment which I have never heard of it. And I didn't receive any feedback emails from HOA before when my payment was sent.

"Dear XXX
This email confirms we have received your auto payment. Please review the payment information below and keep this email for your personal records.

PAYMENT INFORMATION
Receipt number:
XXXXXXX

Payment Account used:
XXXXXXX EFT ****-XXXX

Total Payment Amount:
$XXX.00"

Another sentence on the page end "This is an auto-generated email. Please do not reply to this email."
I used the email to search that I found it is here :https://www.anniebrosehouse.com/brochure.aspx [snip reference to great article in businessinsider.com]
I checked out the anniebrosehouse.com brochure. It's a "special place for the elderly and disabled to call home." ROFL-ing -- I love it. It looks like a great apartment community for the elderly and disabled. But to me this is clearly not where Leanne owns two condos.

What does this mean? Leanne, I think you already know what to do with this. Here's where I would start: I would Print-Screen every page I could from the site where you attempted to make a payment to your condo. Email the Annie Rose facility; explain what is going on; tell them of the glitch; and try to get a refund. Email the company that operates the web site where you paid, and try to get an explanation in writing from this company. Document all.

You hang in there. And enjoy every piece of new evidence that you find documenting that whatever company operates the online payment system has no clue about what it is doing.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


01/01/2020 10:24 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 01/01/2020 9:09 AM

In addition, I found this article and I started to know why Goerge always skeptical what others people said.
https://www.businessinsider.com/are-hoa-foreclosures-a-necessary-tool-or-an-extortion-racket-2010-7

Another case in it:
"In May 2006, the Arizona Republic reported what happened to Stacy Mobbs, who had accumulated delinquent HOA dues of $343.02. After ignoring delinquent notices until the previous September, Mobbs received notice of a lien which her HOA had filed against her in Superior Court. In response, she brought a cashier's check for the full amount due -- $1,479.68 - to the HOA office where she was given a receipt showing that the balance had been paid in full.

Within days, the HOA's attorney had the check returned to her. He explained that the HOA had no right to collect the money and that she actually owed even more. Mobbs requested that she be allowed to bring the matter directly to the HOA board at its next meeting. The attorney refused the request and sent her emails indicating that she could speak only to him.

Fed up with these actions, Mobbs filed a civil suit as well as a complaint against the attorney with the state Bar in March 2006. Finally, the Superior Court judge ruled on May 12 that Mobbs had to pay the delinquent dues plus interest - a total of $370. He ruled that the attorney could collect no attorney's fees.

In an unusual action, the judge also included an entry in which he called the case "an example of the risk to the public of abusive litigation practices gone amok. The court is simply a forum for the resolution of disputes, not a weapon to be used to generate leveraged fee awards." He also forwarded this entry describing the attorney's conduct to the state Bar."


The Arizona bar did indeed end up disciplining this attorney, based in part on what the judge above sent. More at https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/augustus-shaw-arpaio-endorsed-state-rep-candidate-from-tempe-was-target-of-two-state-bar-disciplines-fired-in-2006-from-republic-column-writing-gig-6627962


But at this point, I do not see that the collections company in Leanne's situation has broken the law or violated ethics rules for attorneys. Here's something to try, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs

"You can send a debt collector a letter saying you don’t owe any or all of the money, or asking for verification of the debt. If you send the letter within 30 days of getting the validation notice, the collector has to send you written verification of the debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe, before it can start trying to collect the debt again."

I am not sure that a collections company has to dig more and confirm in greater detail that the HOA is correct about the amount it claims a member owes and that, say, the HOA has followed the Condominium statute for a hearing and due process.

Posted By CD6 on 12/26/2019 8:03 AM
Once it is turned over to an attorney or collection agency, we cannot accept any form of payment.
I queried about this above. I now see a lot on the net re-inforcing what CD6 posted. My sense is that, once a collections company is involved, anything the member wants to pay has to go towards the oldest debt incurred. So a HOA cannot necessarily take even partial payment?

LeanneM1
(Maryland)

Posts:33


03/14/2020 12:44 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 01/01/2020 10:24 AM


Hi Augustin, Paul, and others,

I'm sorry that I didn't update you the progress of my case in time. Because I moved from Maryland to Boston area, I had a lot of personal and family things to do. The thing about HOA is that I found the collection policy, which is explicitly written above

"1. The PROCEDURE OF the COLLECTION OF ASSESSMENT, II REMEDIES FOR NON - PAYMENT OF ASSESSMENTS,
B clause: After the account is thirty (30) days past due, a "newest Notice" requesting payment may be sent by first class - mail."

So I asked the management company when they had sent me this "late notice", and they said they had asked the department responsible for sending the notice, but that department had no record.

In the legal letter sent to me by the lawyer of the collection company, the lawyer replied:

"The Collection Policy allows The Association to send late notices, but does not require it to do so."

At the same time, regarding the hearing authority, the lawyer replied as follows:

"Under Section 11-113 of the Maryland Condominium Act, the Association must afford a unit owner the opportunity to a hearing before imposing a fine for a violation of the Association's governing documents. No fines have been imposed against you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I feel like they've filed me in court, and the tenant is living in it (I have told them I would move out and I gave them other local address to receive the letters). When the uniformed court clerk couldn't find me at this house (which is not I have told them), the clerk called me and I told the clerk my current Boston's address, but he didn't tell me other information about the summon.

I paid a lawyer for a consultation, and he said he could help me, but it probably wouldn't cost less than what I'm being blackmailed for. So I decided to answer the summon in court by myself, but I never received the summon. Neither HOA nor the lawyer mentioned this to me.

On the end of Jan, I sent the handwriting checks to pay Feb to Apr base on the suggestions of the lawyer. HOA didn't charge them.

I noticed to HOA and collection company that I have paid the previous HOA fee, but they were returned. I will continue to pay the future fee no matter if they accept them.

Then, I made a complaint at the BBB about the way they extorted me. Instead of contacting the owner to collect the money, they increased the collection project in HOA budget by 43% for next FY and handed over the account to the debt collection company for more money.

After the complaint, the lawyer sent a letter to say that they decide to accept my checks for Feb to Apr and the Board agreed with waive late fee, but they still asked me for the rest of the fee on previous bill.

I will continue update the complaint on BBB, google and other media until this issue is resolved. Because I don't have a short term plan to move back Maryland, I can't go to local court to sue HOA.

By the way, when I check BBB and google, I found a lot of compliant on this management company.

I am willing to continue to update the progress of this issue, and I am grateful for your support so much!!

Thank you everyone who pay attention to my case again!
Leanne
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/14/2020 3:36 PM  
Thank you for the update, Leanne. Great idea filing a complaint about the management company on the BBB site!
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


03/14/2020 4:47 PM  
Yeah, this certainly sounds like it will be settled amicably.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/15/2020 9:36 AM  
Posted By LeanneM1 on 03/14/2020 12:44 PM

regarding the hearing authority, the lawyer [for the collection company] replied as follows:
"Under Section 11-113 of the Maryland Condominium Act, the Association must afford a unit owner the opportunity to a hearing before imposing a fine for a violation of the Association's governing documents. No fines have been imposed against you."
LeanneM1, attorneys speaking for the HOA have a legal obligation to lie to you about what the law is, as long as doing so advances their client's (the HOA's) position. The law prohibits this collection company's attorney from giving you legal advice that hurts his client (the HOA). He is, in fact, being less than honest with you. The Maryland Condo Act, Section 11-113 states in part:

"(a) Application of section. — Unless the declaration or bylaws state otherwise, the dispute settlement mechanism provided by this section is applicable to complaints or demands formally arising on or after January 1, 1982.
(b) Procedure prior to imposition of sanction for rule violation. — The council of unit owners or board of directors may not impose a fine, suspend voting, or infringe upon any other rights of a unit owner or other occupant for violations of rules until the following procedure is followed:"

As far as I am concerned, the HOA has infringed upon your fundamental right to due process (and possibly other, different rights given in the Declaration) on account of failing to give you notice of the increase in assessments and other notifications. At this point, I would adopt a pit bull attitude: What this HOA's (collection company) attorneys appear to have done is found a method for billing you ridiculous fees, all to enrich themselves. What is this method? First, make sure the HOA fails to give proper notice of an assessment increase. Second, fail to give any kind of reasonable notice when an owner becomes delinquent in paying assessments. Third, make sure the management company's software et cetera system of collecting assessments has errors in it that fail to document notices sent to owners. Fourth, accumulate billable hours, with the cost of these billable hours imposed on the owner who never got any kind of notice of the increase in assessments.

The Maryland Condo Act at Section 11-109(d)(16) says the Board can "impose charges for late payment of assessments." I am not sure whether the HOA is passing along the collection company's attorney's fees to you at this point or whether the collection company's attorneys are billing you directly. If the latter, I am not sure they are on firm legal ground. What a collection company's legal rights are is not something on which I am well studied.

But one thing seems clear to me: The signs of a kind of graft (as I describe above) are there. Maybe this graft is intentional. Or maybe this graft is extreme carelessness that could, legally, amount to being intentional. Here are the steps I would consider taking:

First, I would inform the collections company attorney of (1) the full timeline of events and (2) that you believe "due process" is required, pursuant to Section 11-113 and HOA case law, and has not been provided.

Second, are you able to track this lawsuit on the internet? If so, find out what judge has been assigned to it. I would write the judge directly, cc'ing the plaintiffs, and inform the judge that you have repeatedly given the HOA and collections company your correct address and phone number, yet no summons has reached you. Tell the judge that this has been the pattern all along. Provide proof that you gave the HOA and collections company your address, by way of printed out emails and receipts for letters you sent the HOA and collections company by certified mail, return receipt requested. (Hopefully you have all this documentation). Lay out the timeline of events. Note all the complaints about the management company on the BBB web site. Note your concerns that what has transpired seems like a way to take enormous financial advantage of HOA owners. Ask for a hearing.

You are doing this as an amateur, without the help of an attorney. Nationwide judges are pretty generous to pro se individuals. Make your case as you have here.

I realize now you are long distance. I am sure your time is precious. The above is 'for what it is worth.'
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/15/2020 9:40 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 03/15/2020 9:36 AM
You are doing this as an amateur, without the help of an attorney. Nationwide judges are pretty generous to pro se individuals. Make your case as you have here.
Clarification: The judges are likely to cut pro se individuals some slack when it comes to the procedural rules of filing in court. But when it comes to which of two sides in a dispute is correct, the judges are going to try to follow the law.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


03/15/2020 10:50 AM  
As far as I am concerned, I have zero idea what actually has occurred.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


03/16/2020 2:45 AM  
OP, why wouldn’t you write “Paid in Full” on the memo line and back of one of your checks now and try to do an “accord and satisfaction” that way?
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/16/2020 7:34 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 03/16/2020 2:45 AM
OP, why wouldn’t you write “Paid in Full” on the memo line and back of one of your checks now and try to do an “accord and satisfaction” that way?
Ha ha, yes, I agree. (When PaulJ6 first mentioned this, I read up on it. I agree it shows promise.)
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > 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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