FLORIDA – Homeowner fees ‘like extortion’, homeowner says

The Tampa Tribune:  Homeowner fees ‘like extortion’, homeowner says
By Shannon Behnken
Updated March 21, 2013
WESLEY CHAPEL – Two days before closing on a house, Eugene Vrooman got bad news: If he didn’t come up with $14,000, the homeowners association wouldn’t allow his deal to go through. In addition to unpaid assessments, the Bridgewater Community Association demanded money for cosmetic repairs to the home, which had been vacant for more than a year. It wanted the exterior of the 4-year-old house cleaned and painted, weeds pulled and new sod.“My wife and I were just devastated,” Vrooman said. “We’ve been working on this deal for six months. We planned to clean up the home, but we want to do the work ourselves, not some homeowners association. This just feels like extortion.” The neighborhood may be at the vanguard of a get-tough movement by homeowners associations intent on restoration after the devastation caused by mass foreclosures. Experts know of few other associations this aggressive. But few neighborhoods have been hit harder.Sixty-five percent of the homes were sold to investors, and all but about 160 of the 760 homes – 79 percent – have faced foreclosure. Values were slashed in half, and homes fell into disrepair. There are 37 pending sales in Bridgewater, and 23 homes are on the market.  Read more:

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