A South Sound homeowner has paid thousands of dollars just to satisfy a bill for a few hundred dollars.
That bill was from the homeowners’ association and the cost skyrocketed because the payment was late.
Jennifer Hart pays her homeowners’ association $310 a year to live in Lakeland Hills, near Auburn.
She forgot to pay that amount in January 2017 and, to date, she has now paid out $7,753.59 in late fees and attorney’s fees.
For months, Hart has spent hours every day pouring over documents and she still doesn’t understand how that $310 bill became $7,753.59.
“It was just an oversight. Every other bill that I pay is online, as far as my power, my water, cable,” Hart said.
She said she never saw the bill from the Lakeland Homeowners Association in the mail in January 2017, so she didn’t even think about it until she opened her mail last October and discovered that an attorney had filed a lawsuit for $2,967.37 and a lien against her home.
“I emailed the attorney right away and explained some things that were going on, and how can I fix this. Garnishment will literally devastate my family.
So he responded back and said, ‘You need to propose something,’ so I started proposing offers to him to make sure this didn’t go to garnishment,” Hart said.
She said her offers were refused, and her wages, as well as her husband’s wages, were garnished for nearly two months.
The family of seven struggled through the holidays but saw the light at the end of the tunnel: In January 2018, their debt was supposed to be satisfied.
“Getting the next bill was quite a bit of a shock,” said Hart, who said the bill was for $4,078.
So, if you’re keeping track, that’s a total of $7,753.59 Hart has been billed, of which $1,120 is late fees plus dues owed to the HOA, and $5,374.76 is attorney’s fees.
“I accept the original garnishment as my error. It’s the additional $4,078 that hurts really bad.
It’s like they’re out to actually devastate families instead of work with them,” Hart said.
We took her case to Seattle property attorney Katie Comstock.
Comstock is not the attorney for Hart’s HOA but she’s seen this situation before.
She said part of the problem is that many people don’t understand the process of contesting a lawsuit such as this. Read more: