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Subject: Homeowner past due but not accepting any mail
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BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


05/26/2007 6:13 PM  
We have a homeowner that is now past due to the point where we are considering hiring a collections attorney. As a courtesy we sent out a certified letter giving them 30 days to contact us out a deal or bring the account current or we would hire an attorney. The problem is that they haven't gotten there mail for over 6 months and the post office is now returning all their mail.

We are planning on knocking on the door and finding out what is going on as we see people coming and going regularly. Legally anything sent to the last known address is considered received but we want to be neighborly about it as well. Any advice?
Jadedone4
(Virginia)

Posts:495


05/26/2007 6:46 PM  
Document, document, and document again... the postal notices sent and returned, etc. Send via certified mail at least three attempts, if they come back they come back. I would under not circumstance "knock" on an owner's door for a past due account - not considered to me to be an emergency. One side you have tried repeatedly to contact the owner, the other side... the owner has a responsibility to the community. One does not necessarily outweigh the other, but also does not negate either. There is a school of thought that the owner is a deadbeat that is ignoring and dodging the notices. Another that says that the owner could be in the local ICU. Whatever the reason, the business of the community goes on and your responsibility is the other "x" number of owners who are expecting your service. I am sure that someone here will say that you need to be patient etc with the owner, because we just do not know the circumstances, etc - they are right we don' t know - he/she may also be dodging their responsibilities. Quite certain that if there was money coming their way from the HOA, they would be first in line ....
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9135


05/26/2007 7:10 PM  
Your responsible for sending it to the owner's address in the Association. The address of the property not what may be their current address. It's best to both, but it's only the address in the HOA that is affected. Even if there is a renter, that renter should forward the mail to the owner. The owner is still responsible for the dues no matter what.
I would go and file the lien if they don't respond. Either way, the HOA is protected with having the lien. I've dealt with similar owner's who believed they weren't notified they weren't responsible. Doesn't work that way. Notifying them at their address in the HOA should be sufficient.
Another detail, is that if/when a lien/foreclosure is filed. There will be a PUBLIC notice in the paper about it. There is a legals section in the classifieds of the local newspaper that is published a few days a week. (depending on newspaper policy). This ad will announce the name and the property that has a lien/foreclosure on it and that the owner should notify the proper people to get it taken care of. It is similar to what happens when a non-responsive spouse is notified for divorce papers. The name is posted to appear or the action will be taken against them.

Former HOA President
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


05/26/2007 7:11 PM  
BradD2, I would post a notice to the property (tape letter to front door). Have a witness and take a photo. In the letter I would advise the homeowner to contact _____ within ______ days or else the matter will be referred to an attorney. Let them know that if they have a financial problem that a solution can be worked out. Also let them know that any legal fees would be assessed to the property (if the Declaration and state law allows).
CharlesW1
(Georgia)

Posts:826


05/27/2007 12:43 AM  
Posted By BradD2 on 05/26/2007 6:13 PM
We have a homeowner that is now past due to the point where we are considering hiring a collections attorney. As a courtesy we sent out a certified letter giving them 30 days to contact us out a deal or bring the account current or we would hire an attorney. The problem is that they haven't gotten there mail for over 6 months and the post office is now returning all their mail.

We are planning on knocking on the door and finding out what is going on as we see people coming and going regularly. Legally anything sent to the last known address is considered received but we want to be neighborly about it as well. Any advice?




Hello Brad,

I certainly didn’t expect a post from you. I hope the recommendation you receive will be as good as the suggestion you have given to us in the past.

I have a questions that will first help clarify a few things for me and it may possibly shed some light for others to give even better advice.

When are they assessments due?

Regardless of when the assessments are due, As suggested, I too would file a lien.

If in fact you have made several attempts to collect the assessments (process of notifying the HO of their HOA obligation) for six consecutive months (certified mail with return receipt/first class mail) and haven’t received any acknowledgment what so even. I as well would be concerned. As many have already posted its very possible he/she is in the local emergency room /ICU or possibly has falling into financial hardship. It wouldn’t be foreseeable, but can be dealt with if (the HOA) is made of aware of their financial situation.(speaking from experience)

I had a similar situation occur in my community. In many cases the arrogant HO will be to proud to ask for help, the last thing they want to do is notify their neighbors that their strapped for funds. They don’t want to tell the truth. They wouldn’t want their neighbors to think badly of them.

After you are assured you have made every attempt to notify this HO, by means of mailings (certified return signature / first class mailings), I would file the lien (to protect the associations). Then I would take Roger’s suggestion. You said that you have seen people coming and going from the home, they would more than likely than not, at that point to no see a notice attached to their door.

I have attached a file in which I recommend revising and customizing to your liking, perhaps if need be you can post it here (HOATalk.com) and receive suggestions to improve upon it further.

Best of luck and keep us posted

Chuck W.

Attachment: 1527433169371.doc


Charles E. Wafer Jr.
BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


05/27/2007 3:12 AM  
Charles, the situation is that we took over the Association in March from our previous Management Company and have been trying to get all past due accounts caught up. We started with the most past due and the worked forward. The issue is that all of our procedures involve use of the US Mail system. Since the person is not picking up their mail I ask the question.

I know that legally letters sent to the last known address are considered recieved but am trying to be a good neighbor about it. I don't want him to have the sheriff knock on his door 6 months from now to evict him because his house sold at auction without him even knowing. From talking with the mailman and doing some of my own research it seems he got a divorce a year ago and just shut down.
LindaC3


Posts:0


05/27/2007 5:38 AM  
BradD2--- If the PO is returning all their mail....Are their utilities still on ?? Have you tried phoning him ? Maybe go check clerk of courts records and see if the EX is fighting him for 1/2 of thehouse...Sure way to fis the EX is to cause it to be "sold" or "liened" as sort of a payback punishment....Try and get something assomplished before July 01,2007.......here in Florida Gov Christ signed a new bill for HOA Associations ...have to give HO an additional 45 day notice before you file lien against them.. I will look it up and post for you,,,,,,,,,,,, Best if luck and keep us informed of your progress..LINDAC
BradP
(Kansas)

Posts:2640


05/27/2007 1:23 PM  
I am one of those guys who is not a big fan of ever going onto someone's property, especially in a situation like this. While it probably isn't going to happen, I am sure you all saw the article about the homeowner who waited and then shot a teenager for just walking on their yard. My thought is as a volunteer I don't paid enough to risk my wellbeing.
JM2
(Oregon)

Posts:439


05/29/2007 8:30 AM  
Hi Brad:

You mention that you sent the letter certified, did you also send a copy 1st class? A lot of times we find that people will get the first class letter (it doesn't come back) but the certified is not picked up at the post office and they either weren't home when delivery was attempted or refused to sign for it. Sending both ways makes sense, the 1st class gets there unless they changed addresses, and the certified shows that you at least tried to contact them.

I don't see anything wrong with knocking on the door; hand them a copy of the letter, and let them know that you've been trying to contact them. Be sure to ask them to update their contact information with the association in your letter (while it's up to them to make sure they update the contact info, it's always good to ask them to do it). If they aren't there, secure it somehow (either taped to a window or secured in the door jamb), taking a photo isn't the worst thing, either, to prove that you attempted an on-site delivery. Many times, when a house is going into foreclosure for nonpayment of mortgage, there's a notice posted on the house. HOWEVER - if there is a lot of traffic coming & going, there might be a drug problem there, and in that case, I would avoid the direct contact.

Being "neighborly" includes the courtesy of trying to reach them in any way possible in order to help them have the opportunity to pay the bill.

J. Patrick Moore, CMCA

BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


05/29/2007 8:33 AM  
Patrick, I did not send a letter by regular mail and in this case it wouldn't help. You see the homeowner has not picked up any mail in months and now the post office doesn't deliver ANY mail to him.

TomK2
(Ohio)

Posts:39


05/29/2007 1:58 PM  
Hello BradD2 ! If ur party is six months past due I would turn the account over to an attorney. You are not a collection agency. Let the attorney file a lien you'll get ur money but it will take time.
BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


05/29/2007 5:12 PM  
Tom, I know that but they will run into the very same problem that we have. If the Homeowner is not accepting any mail then they can't very well accept the mail from the collection lawyers.

I am well aware of what we can do legally but am not comfortable with the situation if we haven't given the Homeowner some notice that we intend to collect and that additional costs will be incurred if he doesn't bring the account current. The circumstances are very different and I am trying to remain neighborly and at least give him notice. Right now the Vice President and I are planning on visiting the house Friday evening once we see the mini-van in the driveway. We would like to hear his side of it and find out what the situation might be.
GloriaM
(North Carolina)

Posts:829


05/30/2007 10:49 PM  
Brad:

If you have it as word that he got divorced and "shut down" there is nothing wrong with you knocking on his door and speaking with him. You legally have documented the numerous notices sent and rightfully can go to collections at this point. However since you want to be neighborly, go ahead knock you may be greeted warmly, or not.

After that you can with good conscience feel you did all you could.
JackT1


Posts:0


06/02/2007 4:41 AM  
How can I find out who is not paying HO dues? What is being done to collect?
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


06/02/2007 7:29 AM  
Jack, with a justifiable reason to know you can request a viewing your HOA's accounts aging file. Such information should not be available to the general membership and should be held confidential by those who are aware of such information.
MicheleD
(Kentucky)

Posts:4491


06/02/2007 7:35 AM  
Roger, I'm curious why you would say that the payment logs are confidential to the general membership? They are records of the organization, just as all the other documents, financial or otherwise are. In our HOA, because all homeowners are members, then all the files are available to them upon request. That includes the payment history.

Now, we dont' go around "posting" it or anything, but we do make the records available on request, upon scheduling an appointment (as a courtesy to our treasurer).

JackT1


Posts:0


06/02/2007 7:40 AM  
Justification!!!!
If in fact there are people past due, I am paying for a service they get free. A view of the aging file would tell me. They might all be current. I have asked Treasurer and he refuses to answer. A person buying here knows there is a $200 annual HOA fee. If they can't pay, they shouldn't be here. It is like buying a car with no money down. If you can't pay 20% down, maybe you shouldn't buy the car.
JackT1


Posts:0


06/02/2007 7:43 AM  
I can't see payment logs. All financial records are confidential and not available to the members.
MicheleD
(Kentucky)

Posts:4491


06/02/2007 8:04 AM  
Jack, says who?

Seriously, what document do you have that says the financial documents are confidential and the homeowners cannot view them?

That's news to me. Now, maybe the management companies prefer it that way, but that doesn't necessarily make it so, especially if the governing documents don't specifically designate them as confidential.

It may be a standard policy that some organizations have put into place, but a SOP is not the same as a governing document.

All homeowners are members. The board are just members who work harder. They have no more rights available to them than the other members, except what is dictated they can and can't do by the by-laws and cc&rs (such as making contracts, etc).

The only "justification" a homeowner needs is that he is a homeowner member and has a right to see the status of the organization, including financial status, records.

The board must operate in total transparency.

RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


06/02/2007 10:02 AM  
Details on delinquent accounts should not be made public. In other words do not publish or post them for everyone to see. However, the total amount of the delinquent accounts can be made public. Any member has the right to request to review the aging accounts upon request for a justifiable reason - such as determining the status of those accounts. But this information should not used to degrade other members through gossip; it should remain confidential. Perhaps this helps clarify my previous comments.

Bottom line is the delinquent accounts are available for any member to view with certain restrictions. For anyone who disagrees with these guidelines I would ask you to place yourself in the shoes of a member who is delinquent and ask what your rights should be.
JackT1


Posts:0


06/02/2007 11:03 AM  
I have no document saying they are confidential. There is no management company. I asked President what was being done to collect past dues. She said she had a lawyer working on it. I asked Who? She said it was confidential. She said she didn't want to hear from me on this matter again. I asked who was past due. Confidential (I was told. I tried to talk to Treasurer and he won't talk or email me.I can scan and send you Charter and/or deed. I can also FAX it to you. As a dues paying member I have an entitlement to know where the money goes. What law makes the board work in transparency?
LindaC3


Posts:0


06/02/2007 11:15 AM  
BradD2---- Did the homeowner put in a STOP DELIVERY order with the Post Office ? Does he have a PO Box or is the mail delivered directly to his home at the curb,or does your HOA have a gang box ? You may want to go speak to the POSTMASTER not the mailman and find out the true status of his mail delivery......I have a number for someone in the Orlando area if you do not have any success with the POSTMASTER,,,,,LindaC
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


06/02/2007 11:36 AM  
Jack, check to see if your state has a "sunshine law" which requires the documents of a corporation to be available to the members.
PaulM
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:1347


06/02/2007 2:35 PM  
JackT1:
You must, as a homeowner in a community, arm yourself with your community documents, which will detail the government and management of your community. Without this knowledge, you will continue to get replys, with no results, such as you are getting now.
Only with knowledge of your documents will you understand how your community's Board is responsible to the association as a whole, and thereby to the residents.

As far as your knowing where the money is going, your documents should also dictate how often a financial report is to be made available to residents.
This is what you need to acquaint yourself with to know the revenue coming in and the expenses going out.

Start studying and stop complaining. Your knowledge of the documents will result in respect from your association residents and Board members.
JackT1


Posts:0


06/02/2007 2:43 PM  
Thanks for thoughts. At age 71, having owned 11 houses, having 2 grown children with degrees, not having to work, 2 military hitches, taking people to court, etc. I perhaps haven't had all the experiences of others & thus it is hard to tune into. Many buy house with arm & cars with no money down. Perhaps that is why some (if they exist), can't pay the $200 a year fee. The CPA gave me his statement which didn't tell me what I wanted to know.
PaulM
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:1347


06/03/2007 4:50 AM  
J-what exactly do you want to know?
BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


06/03/2007 12:53 PM  
Jack, what state?

Linda, we have community mail boxes and the mailman was temporary postmaster for a few months. He says there is no forwarding address and that he personally took the mail down to the homeowner after about a month of him not picking it up. After that he took the mail to the post office and held it for a month and left a note in the box saying come to the Post Office to get it. After that he started returning mail to the sender.

The Vice President and I went down to his house yesterday and he didn't come to the door (could hear someone inside and car was in the driveway with his name on the dash). We taped a copy of the letter to his front door. He hasn't updated the Property Appraiser and so I fear he is behind on his taxes as well. I still have the sealed letter with the returned label on it for legal proof that he was notified. I was making an effort to give him notice before we added legal fees and/or added a lien.
BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


06/03/2007 1:02 PM  
Jack, I just read another post where you say you are in Florida. You need to find, print off and read several times Florida Statue 720. You can find it at http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0720/ch0720.htm

Of interest to you is FS 720.303.5 (b) which says:

(b) A member who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association's willful failure to comply with this subsection. The minimum damages are to be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th business day after receipt of the written request.

To let the board know you are serious in your request about getting specific information first do a title search for the name of your Association at http://www.sunbiz.org/corinam.html

Look for the Principal Address and the Registered Agent. Send a certified letter to the Registered Agent requesting the information that you want and cite FS 720.303.5 which gives any homeowner access to the records of the Association. You can sue in small claims court for $500 after 20 business days if they haven't provided it and it is a fairly open and shut case as long as you can document what you asked to see.
MichelleL
(Florida)

Posts:16


06/03/2007 3:51 PM  
If your docs are not very specific, your Board should adopt a Delinquent Policy Assessment. This way you are consistent with how you handle every delinquent assessment. Our documents indicated that after 30 days a $25 late fee will be applied. We felt that 90 days before going to the lawyer was appropriate because putting a lien on a home was such a serious step.

Here is our policy:

Delinquent Assessment Policy 5/07


Late fees do not apply to assessments received or postmarked by March 30th. Any assessment received after March 30th must include the appropriate late fee.

Treasurer will send a past due assessment letter to homeowners who are 30 days delinquent via regular mail including $25.00 late fee to the assessment by April 1st.

Treasurer will send out a second past due assessment letter to homeowners who are 60 days delinquent including an additional $25.00 late fee via Certified Return Receipt Requested mail and standard mail to the assessment by April 30th.

Treasurer will send turn over paperwork to lawyer when a homeowner is delinquent on their annual assessment for over 90 days by May 28th. Homeowners with a delinquent assessment will face a minimum of $300.00 in late fees and interest and possible lien and /or foreclosure of their property.

The Board of Directors firmly intends to and is fully prepared to take legal action against any homeowner who does not pay their annual assessment along with fines and fees within 90 days of the due date.

***************************************************************************

The paying of dues is the top priority for a Board. Having said that, it is extremely important to be CONSISTENT and not make it up as you go along. All homeowners should be treated equally. With this type of policy in place, all homeowners know exactly what to expect.

Best of luck to you!

LindaC3


Posts:0


06/03/2007 3:51 PM  
You can sue in small claims court for $500 after 20 business days if they haven't provided it and it is a fairly open and shut case as long as you can document what you asked to see....

BradD2...Where in the Statute does it state that you an sue in small claims court after 20 day.?? I do believe you have to have mediation BEFORE you can go to civil court...LindaC
BradD2
(Florida)

Posts:418


06/03/2007 4:51 PM  
I have read about people going to small claims for it and as it is only $500 it would be in the realm of small claims. I haven't heard of anyone going to mediation for that.
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