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CCFJ.NET: Poinciana homeowner contests association election again
Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Ryan Gillespie
Published September 19, 2017
A homeowner is again trying to tip the balance of power within one of the state’s largest homeowner’s associations away from developers.
An election challenge filed by homeowner Martin Negron calls for a recount of votes in the Association of Poinciana Villages, but only after the state agency that regulates HOAs tosses out scores of votes he thinks are illegal.
That agency, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, already sided with Negron in a challenge in June and nullified the results of a February vote. In that ruling, an arbitrator ordered the Aug. 1 election.
If the votes are tossed out, Negron and his attorneys think it would pave the way for homeowners to be seated on the board.
“How are we ever going to win?” he said. “Hopefully the [state] will put some teeth into this.” Read more:
GRANITE BAY (CBS13) — Some homeowners in a Granite Bay neighborhood are fuming over a letter sent out by the homeowners association that they say goes too far.
The letter discourages children playing outdoors on neighborhood streets and even suggests parents take their kids to a nearby park.
After just two months in their new home the Peters family received a letter from the homeowners association saying children playing in streets and neighboring yards is a violation.
“Honestly we were a little put out, real upset to the fact we didn’t feel welcome in our neighborhood,” says Jed Peters, while keeping a close eye on his three-year-old riding a bike across the street in the quiet neighborhood.
“We also got a handwritten note from our association manager that states, perhaps we should have the children play in the backyard or at the park.”
Peters says he’s not against association rules keeping the neighborhood looking sharp, but he thinks this goes too far and he posted the letter on social media.
“We had over 75 positive responses from our neighbors. They said we want kids out front, not playing video games. Read more:
The Rock Hill Home Owners Association has its sights set on a tiny pink playhouse in a Blue Springs, Missouri neighborhood.
Bobbie Goolsby bought the playhouse for her six-year-old granddaughter, Emma, who nearly died from an autoimmune disorder, according to the KSHB.
Emma told the TV station the playhouse was her “safe space” where she goes to play everyday and take her breathing treatments. “It’s my world,” Emma said.
Goolsby tried to find a loophole in HOA bylaws that prohibit sheds, but HOA President Dee Ann Myers told KSHB that the playhouse still violates its policy.
Ask anyone living in a neighborhood managed by an HOA, and you will likely hear a rant.
It could be about anything from fights over paint colors to parking or garbage cans.
HOAs are one of the most controversial topics I have covered during my 22-year tenure as a real-estate reporter in metro Phoenix.
Half of all Valley homeowners live in a community association; many people have strong opinions about them.
I hadn’t delved deeply into the world of HOAs before this year because many of the issues were community stories.
But last year, complaints against HOAs in the Phoenix area ratcheted up. I started hearing from homeowners with HOA issues almost daily.
Arizona Republic community reporter Jessica Boehm has written many stories about HOA battles in the West and East Valley, and she quickly became an expert.
Late last year, Boehm began to hear about homeowners losing houses to HOAs through foreclosure, something most people don’t realize is legal. Read more:
My wife and I made an offer on a property in a self-managed Virginia community of single-family homes. Our offer hinged, in part, on the sales agent’s assurance that maintenance of the community’s private roads was totally covered by current homeowner’s association annual dues of $1,000 per lot. However, we just received the HOA’s disclosure letter stating that the board is studying a road engineer’s report for possible dues increases and special assessments.
Friends who live in the community tell us the licensed engineer’s 75-page report recommends major road repairs, which could immediately boost dues to $3,500 per lot per year for the next 10 years. If true, this would kill the deal for us.
Our problem is that we can’t get more good information about the situation. Past board meeting minutes from the disclosure packet show that the board hired the engineer, but there’s no mention of the report. And this year’s approved budget (also in the disclosure packet) includes no planned expenditures for road maintenance. We hear that the board didn’t distribute the engineer’s report and has been holding it for almost two months. According to our friends, the board is looking for ways to quietly bury the engineer’s recommendations and arbitrarily defer all major repairs regardless of validity so as to avoid a dues increase. Such a ploy, if true, also would tend to make us walk. Read more:
Every Thursday, investors crowd into a garage-size room on the second floor of the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix looking for a deal.
Among these veterans, bidding goes fast for bargain properties placed in foreclosure by homeowners associations, often for as little as $1,200 in unpaid monthly dues.
Last spring, bidding started at $50,000 for a condo in north Scottsdale, about $8,000 more than the owner owed his HOA. Five minutes and 40 bids later, a Phoenix investor scored the property for $153,000, about half the going price of neighboring condos.
After the auction, the Salida Del Sol Condominium Association and its law firm were paid. The previous owner had bought the home in 2006 for $270,000 in cash. More than $100,000 remained from the auction.
Attorneys, foreclosure experts and other parties interviewed for this story could not say what happens to any money that is left over, or whether anyone must notify the previous owner about the proceeds.
The former owner could not be reached for comment.
Maxwell & Morgan, the law firm handling the Salida HOA, referred questions to Carpenter Hazelwood attorney Joshua Bolen, who is on the board of the Arizona chapter of the Community Associations Institute.
Bolen said he could comment generally about HOA foreclosures rather than about specific cases. He said homeowners have the right to claim the money left over after their liens are paid.
(After a foreclosure auction) the investor pays the sheriff, the sheriff cuts a check to the association, and the association is completely out of it,” said Bolen. “That investor basically fills the shoes of the association.”
The Sheriff’s office says its not responsible for returning any extra proceeds from an auction to the homeowner.
“The homeowner must petition the court like any remaining lien holders for surplus proceeds from an HOA foreclosure sale,” said Bolen. “Few people understand the process because it’s been rare until recently that there are excess proceeds for a homeowner to claim.”
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge then reviews all of the petitions for the leftover funds and decides how the money is distributed.
A homeowner trying to recover money will face court costs. Read more:
Article Courtesy of The Pensacola News Journal
Published September 14, 2017
A former Gulf Breeze attorney has been sentenced to more than three years in prison and ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution for fraud and embezzlement.
Richard Michael Colbert, 56, of Pensacola Beach was sentenced Friday for conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution, nine counts of money laundering and two counts of theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a person connected with a financial institution.
Colbert was working as a title attorney in 2007 when he signed and submitted a false HUD-1 to the now defunct Gulf South Private Bank in order for one of his business partners to obtain a million-dollar loan from the bank.
The bank ultimately lost more than $600,000 as a result of the fraudulent contract, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Then, in 2010, Colbert again facilitated a fraud conspiracy by handling a number of closings that defrauded Bank of America, Beach Community Bank and the now defunct Premier Community Bank. The total loss from all three banks exceeded $2.3 million.
Colbert also embezzled and misapplied more than $400,000 being held at Beach Community Bank and conducted a series of financial transactions laundering the funds.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office release details a series of transactions Colbert completed over a period of years, including defrauding homeowners associations he had been trusted to oversee.
Colbert was sentenced Friday to three years and four months in prison and was ordered to pay back more than $3.7 million to the different institutions. Read:
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Dina Reimer is like a lot of Valley homeowners living in an HOA community.
She knows she can be cited for faded paint, or not keeping the front yard clean, but the Phoenix mom had no idea her HOA could foreclose on her house, if she falls behind on her monthly dues.
“That definitely seems extreme,” said Reimer. “I didn’t even know about that. I wasn’t aware. As far as I’m concerned, it says if you’re two weeks late you owe 15 more dollars.”
Attorney Jonathan Dessaules represents several clients on the verge of losing their homes. He said the number of HOA foreclosures is on the rise, with many homeowners having no idea it was even possible.
“Once the HOA starts the foreclosure process it is a train going 90 mph,” said Dessaules. “The only way it can stop is if a homeowner accurately guesses how much a court will award in attorney fees.” Read more:
Homeowners associations, the enforcers of neighborhood paint colors, holiday decorations and trash bins, are leading the latest surge in Phoenix-area foreclosures.
HOAs are foreclosing on a record number of homeowners for as little as $1,200 in missed
maintenance payments, according to an Arizona Republic investigation. And homeowners who thought only their mortgage lender could seize property are losing their houses at sheriff’s auctions, sometimes for just $100 more than they owe.
“It’s become a huge issue,” Arizona Real Estate Commissioner Judy Lowe said. “Most homeowners don’t understand the foreclosure process and don’t know their HOA can foreclose.”
Arizona allows an HOA to foreclose after a year of missed payments or a debt of $1,200. But when HOAs add legal fees and interest to late payments, the debt can more than quadruple in a year.
Some homeowners fighting desperately to keep their homes find HOA balances often don’t match amounts listed in court filings, making it difficult to learn how much they really owe — and impossible to catch up. Read more:
|Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Susan Taylor Martin
Published September 6, 2016
Instead of doing all it could to help struggling homeowners, Florida’s housing agency spent more than $100,000 in federal Hardest Hit funds on bonuses and perks for its own employees.
That was among the findings of a report released Friday by the special inspector general for the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was started after the Great Recession.
As thousands of people waited for financial aid to save their homes, Florida Housing Finance Corp. treated employees to $106,775 in bonuses, Visa gift cards and barbecue from Piggy’s BBQ in Tallahassee, the report said. That sum was part of the $3 million in Hardest Hit funds improperly used by agencies in several states that administer the mortgage relief program.
“Congress did not authorize TARP dollars for barbecues, steak and seafood dinners, gift cards, flowers, gym memberships, employee bonuses, litigation, celebrations, cars, and other unnecessary expenses of state housing agencies, but those are some of the charges… forensic analysis uncovered,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, special inspector general for TARP. Read more: