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FLORIDA – ‘More power than a bank’: HOA uses loophole to foreclose on Beulah dad’s home, lawyer says
‘More power than a bank’: HOA uses loophole to foreclose on Beulah dad’s home, lawyer says
Kevin Robinson, Pensacola News Journal
Published 5:39 p.m. CT May 4, 2020
Caleb Leitch’s wife passed away unexpectedly in 2013, six months after they bought a new home in Beulah. Leitch, now 31, has spent the last few years putting himself through school, working as a counselor for folks trying to quit tobacco and raising his elementary school-aged son. The last thing on his mind was his homeowners association fees.
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is about to lose his $230,000 home over an $8,800 debt to his HOA and its attorneys
.According to Leitch’s attorney, the First Judicial Circuit appears to be one of the few court systems in Florida that is proceeding with lien foreclosures despite an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis suspending foreclosures and evictions while more than one million Floridians are out of work.
Christine Kelly Fausel, a senior attorney for Legal Services of North Florida, is representing Leitch in his foreclosure case. Kelly Fausel said she believes this case and others are moving forward based on a hyper-literal interpretation of the governor’s order, an interpretation she thinks is both legally flawed and contrary to the spirit of the document. “Obviously the intent is not to have people homeless during COVID-19,” Kelly Fausel said.
Issued April 2, the governor’s order put a 45-day suspension on any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure — the process which allows a lender to evict a homeowner and sell their property if the homeowner defaults on their payments. However, the governor’s order contains no explicit prohibition on “lien foreclosures.” That process allows homeowners’ associations and condominium associations to place liens on the homes of members with unpaid fees and assessments. The process can ultimately result in a “lien foreclosure” where the home is auctioned off to pay the HOA or COA.
Kelly Fausel said the state statutes that govern the lien foreclosure process are interdependent with the statutes that govern the mortgage foreclosure process. She believes both should be paused under the governor’s order.
Via email, a spokesperson for the First Circuit said it would not be appropriate ethically for judges or staff to discuss their interpretation or application of the law in this case, since it relates directly to a pending case and cases that could arise in the future. Read more: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/05/04/coronavirus-florida-lawyer-says-hoas-using-loophole-foreclosures/3065363001/
Click2Houston.com: Homeowners want HOA dues refunds for amenities they can’t use
Amy Davis, Reporter/Consumer Expert
Published: April 29, 2020, 8:18 am
HOUSTON – Neighborhood pools, gyms and clubhouses are closed. These are amenities most homeowners pay for in their HOA dues. Now, some of you want to know if you will get a break or a refund for the amenities you can not use.
Homeowners want money back for services they couldn’t use
C.C. Sutton lives in a townhome community near the Texas Medical Center. She pays $720 every quarter in HOA dues. These days, she’s walking for exercise while the community gym is closed. When she reached out to her HOA to ask about a possible refund for the months she couldn’t access the gym and other amenities, the response was quick.
“They said that it was still required that we pay it, even though the City of Houston has mandated that the pool and the gym be closed,” Sutton explained. “At this time, they have not discussed any refunds or anything like that.
”Attorney David Kahne represents homeowners in court and in our state capital, in efforts to regulate homeowner’s associations and their power. Just like auto insurance companies are giving customers back some of their premiums, Kahne believes HOAs should refund homeowners part of their dues.
“So for example with the pools, the boards don’t need to pay for lifeguards if the pools are closed. At least give that money back,” Kahne explained.
KPRC 2 has not heard of any HOA that is offering refunds or a break in fees, but Kahne said your chances of getting one are greater if your HOA board separates your amenity fees from the rest of your dues. Some HOAs even hold that money in a separate account.
- Homeowners have the right to see the HOA budget if you request it. Many boards post them online.
- Kahne says you should use forums like Nextdoor and neighborhood Facebook groups to coordinate with your neighbors.
- Put your request for a refund from your HOA in writing as a group.
“If the owners go to the board as a group, they’re much more likely to get a fair response and also, of course, having groups is a good way to build the strength in the community,” explained Kahne. Read more:
HOA asks Conroe family to take down daughter’s ‘stay home’ art from window
First Service Residential sent the family a violation notice calling 4-year-old Giuliana’s colored pictures “unsightly articles” that would drop property values.
Author: Marcelino Benito (KHOU)
Published: 10:23 PM CDT April 27, 2020 Updated: 10:25 PM CDT April 27, 2020
CONROE, Texas — A Conroe family is standing up to their homeowner’s association after they were sent a violation notice instructing them to remove their daughter’s quarantine art from their windows.
The HOA described them as “unsightly articles.”
Staying home has been an adventure for many families. Andrea’s 4-year-old daughter Giuliana has found her purpose in color filling in coloring books with joy.
Her mom started sharing her pictures with the neighborhood.
“I thought, ‘Let’s put a couple of pictures on the window to share,'” Andrea said. “And it gives her a little extra pride to say this is the picture of the day that I did.”
“Why did we put them on the window?” Andrea asked her daughter.
“To make our neighbors happy,” she replied.
On Friday, a letter arrived in the mail.
“Immediately I see the red font: Violation.” So my eyes are like what could we have done,” Andrea said.
First Service Residential HOA that serves the Fosters Ridge subdivision in Conroe said Giuliana’s drawings had to go.
“The violation is the colored pictures and it (the notice) referred to them as unsightly articles,” Andrea said. “My daughter’s pictures are not unsightly articles. She may not be a Picasso, but she’s a 4-year-old coloring pictures to make neighbors smile.”
Andrea decided her daughter’s joy was worth fighting for.
“As a mama bear I got defensive and upset that they were trying to squash that type of feeling,” Andrea said.
So Giuliana’s colored pictures are staying put.
“I’m honestly a big rules follower,” Andrea said.
But rules like this, she said, are meant to be broken, especially when it means a little girl can keep smiling during this pandemic. Read more:
FLORIDA – Case Law Update: Assessments are Consumer Debts Under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
April 21, 2020
Case Law Update: Assessments are Consumer Debts Under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
In a recent case, Kelly v. Duggan, 282 So.3d 969 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 2019), out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeals looked at whether condominium association assessments qualify as “consumer debts” under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). The FCCPA, Florida Statutes §559.55 et seq. (“FCCPA”) and its federal counterpart, Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”) protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection activities and regulate consumer debt collection in Florida. Like the FDCPA, the FCCPA prohibits creditors and debt collectors from engaging in fraudulent, abusive, and harassing tactics in collecting debts for the State of Florida.
In Duggan, a dispute arose between a homeowner and condominium association concerning disputed past due assessments. A condominium owner alleged that the president of the Association violated the FCCPA by locking the unit owner out of a storage unit, making derogatory public statements about the unit owner, and disclosing information about the unit owner’s reputation to a vendor. The unit owner claimed that the president’s actions violated the terms of the FCCPA. The trial court dismissed the unit owner’s complaint citing a previous case from Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, Bryan v. Clayton, 698 So. 2d 1236 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1997), which held that the FDCPA and the FCCPA’s definition of “debt” excludes maintenance assessments owed to a homeowner’s Association.
The Court held that condominium assessments qualify as “consumer debts” under the FCCPA and reversed the dismissal of the unit owner’s complaint,and remanded for further proceedings. The Court reasoned that for the FCCPA to apply, the payment obligation or “debt” must arise (1) from a consumer out of a (2) money, property, insurance, or services transaction, which is (3) primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. The Appellate Court reasoned that because a purchaser must contractually agree to pay a condominium or homeowner association assessments as a prerequisite to purchasing, that purchaser takes on “debts” for those assessments under the FCCPA.Accordingly, community associations and their board members should tread carefully in collecting assessments to prohibit running afoul with the FCCPA and FDCPA by consulting with an attorney to ensure the Association and its agent’s practices are compliant with both the state and federal law.
|North Fort Myers communities taking virus seriously|
|Article Courtesy of North Fort Myers Neighbor|
By Chuck Ballaro
Published April 12, 2020
If you had asked Catarina Dancer, HOA president at Buccaneer Estates, two weeks ago about the coronavirus, she would have said most of the residents there thought the threat was overblown.
Not anymore. Residents through the area’s 55-plus communities are taking personal precautions, with their communities closing most or all of their common areas.
At Buccaneer Estates, a community where many of the residents are over 70, that has meant closing the swimming pool and clubhouse and asking residents not to gather in groups larger than 10 and to stay at least six feet apart.
“Now that the governor has instituted a stay-in-place order most people are doing that with the exception of a few stragglers who walk in the evening on their own,” Dancer said. “You could drop a pin here and you can hear it echo.”
Lazy Days Village now only allows two people in the sales office and has closed its pool and two clubhouses, according to Patty Phelan, property manger at the park. They are also practicing social distancing.
The same can be said for Bayshore Village, where HOA president Joe Addis said the residents are avoiding being in groups of more than five.
“It was tough to have to close the community area or the pool because it was a fun activity, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Addis said.
Annette Graley, HOA president at Lake Fairways, said the only people permitted inside are those who have a tag and that residents are heeding the restrictions.
“Nothing is going on here, everything has been shut down since March 21. The restaurants, the events, the golf course, clubhouse swimming pools and everything are under lockdown,” Graley said. “Most of the residents are staying inside. They may go to the stores or go walk the dog, but they’re taking it seriously.” Read more: http://www.ccfj.net HOAFLTakCVSeriously.html
HOA Hall of Shame becomes Hall of Fame for one association
The Ashmore waives dues to help homeowners
Posted: 8:57 PM, Apr 03, 2020 Updated: 11:09 PM, Apr 03, 2020
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — People who live in HOAs all across the valley have varying concerns.
One man who pays $140 a month in dues in a retirement community wonders why the homeowners still have to pay when all the common areas are closed, like the pool, workout room, golf course and clubhouse.
Another gentleman who’s used to paying his HOA dues in person at an office now has to pay them online because that office is closed, but the HOA is charging an extra fee to process that online payment.
There are stories like those and then, there’s The Ashmore.
“You do the HOA Hall of Shame, and HOAs, if the homeowners would get involved with them, can be a good thing,” Ashmore Board President Patrick Ellis said to 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears. “And I wanted to demonstrate that there are those of us on the board who care about the homeowners because they are our neighbors.” Read more:
Plan to convert Sharpstown association to HOA ‘causing a lot of division’
Brenda Harris couldn’t believe her eyes.
She had heard that the civic association in Sharpstown, the west Houston neighborhood where she had grown up and now owns home, was thinking of updating its subdivision rules, but she hadn’t given the matter much thought. Then a neighbor began posting the proposed updates, paragraph by paragraph, on a social media platform called Nextdoor. She called over her husband to take a look.
The new rules would convert the local civic association, a group with voluntary dues-paying membership and limited legal powers, to a homeowners association with the authority to impose mandatory assessments and foreclose on homes.
“I just think it’s wrong,” Harris said. “Community is not about pushing people out of their homes. It’s not about threatening people, twisting arms.”
While HOAs have proliferated in recent decades, they’re generally put in place when a neighborhood is developed, meaning homeowners agree to the arrangement when they buy. And so the Sharpstown Civic Association’s unusual proposal to convert to an HOA 65 years after the neighborhood was founded has roiled the community.
The plan has pitted those who see a more powerful way to ensure the upkeep of homes and raise funds for security to restore the neighborhood’s appeal, alleviate the area’s reputation for crime and, in the process, boost property values against those who fear such tools could ultimately displace them.
Membership in the civic association, which pays for enforcement of deed restrictions, private security patrols and a Fourth of July fireworks display, among other services, is currently voluntary, and for years only a quarter of the roughly 6,800 households have chosen to join. They pay dues, currently $250 a year, that benefit the entire neighborhood.
“It is time for all homeowners to participate and pay their $250 per year,” the civic association wrote in its September newsletter. Read more:
Pennsylvania – Police say this man stole more than $1 million from suburban homeowners associations. Now he faces new charges
|Police say this man stole more than $1 million from suburban homeowners associations. Now, he faces new charges|
|Article Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer|
By Vinny Vella
Published March 7, 2019
A Chester County man facing trial for allegedly embezzling money from multiple homeowners associations in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania has been arrested again, accused of running the same scheme at additional locations.
William Huyler III, 41, was arrested late Wednesday and charged with theft, forgery, and related offenses. He was released on $250,000 unsecured bail, and waived his preliminary hearing. Huyler was expected to go to trial Tuesday in West Chester on his previous charges, but that case was continued because of his latest arrest.
Huyler now is accused of stealing more than $1.5 million from multiple condominium associations in the region, according to Chester County District Attorney Deborah Ryan.
“Our office will continue to investigate any allegations of theft and unlawful activities until we are satisfied that we have uncovered any potential victims,” Ryan said. “The defendant betrayed the trust of these victims for his financial advantage and must be held accountable.”
Huyler’s attorney, Lee Ciccarelli, did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday. Previously, Ciccarelli said Huyler was taking the allegations “very seriously.”
Investigators said Huyler was contracted by homeowners associations in Exton, Marlton, and Glassboro, and Kent County, Del., to manage their business accounts between January 2017 and January 2018. Over the course of that year, Huyler used “multiple methods of deception” to steal more than $240,000, Ryan said. Read More:
The New York Times: Taking the Golf out of Golf Communities
Around the country, planned developments are adapting and reinventing in order to appeal to a wider range of buyers
By Steven Kurutz
March 6, 2020
This article is part of our International Homes special section, which takes a look at homes and golf, from planned communities and sustainability to course designers and where they live.
MacDonald Highlands is a master-planned community of less than 1,000 units in Henderson, Nev., a wealthy suburb of Las Vegas within squinting distance of the Strip. For years, its main selling point was DragonRidge Country Club, a private 18-hole golf course sculpted out of the desert foothills, with emerald fairways that wind past multi-million-dollar homes.
But lately, the property’s owner, Rich MacDonald, has had more on his mind than golf. Mr. MacDonald opened the club in 2001, sold it in 2014 and bought it back in 2016. When he did, he said: “I wanted to make sure we have the equivalent of a cruise director. Someone who does fun things, interesting events. We’ve had to adapt quite a bit because the social aspect seems to be the main focus for new residents.”
At existing golf communities around the country, a similar story of adaptation and reinvention is playing out. Read more:
|Gov. DeSantis signs bill that bans HOA restrictions on police vehicles|
|Article Courtesy of ABC Action News|
By Heather Leigh
Published February 24, 2020
CLEARWATER — Law enforcement officers in Florida are now allowed to park their work vehicles in their driveways, despite what HOA has to say about it.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed S.B. 476 — the law enforcement vehicles law — which protects law enforcement officers from being told by their HOA they can’t park their work vehicles in their own driveways.
This comes after ABC Action News reported the story back in August of 2019.
Holiday Isles Management is the company that manages the HOA. They told ABC Action News in October 2019 the company can make recommendations and consult for the HOA, but they say final decisions lie with the HOA’s board.
The HOA of Eastlake Woodlands sent the Clearwater police officer and her husband a letter that threatened them with violation costs if they didn’t stop parking a marked police cruiser in their driveway.
The family told the HOA they were grandfathered in by a former board president but the HOA did not recognize that letter at first. After ABC Action News reported on the story twice, the HOA changed its tune and decided to honor the grandfather letter but told the family if they sell the house, they must inform the next owners of the HOA rules.
“My gut reaction was ‘this can’t be real, this flies in the face of common sense,’” Chris Sprowls, a House Rep. for District 65, previously told ABC Action News.
Sprowls posted about it to Facebook and linked our article saying it’s time to clarify the law. Ed Hooper, State Senator in District 60, agreed.Read more: