All Topics / Overseas Deals / HOA suddenly pipes up with $1000 in fines

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  • Profile photo of labradorinlovelabradorinlove
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    @labradorinlove
    Join Date: 2012
    Post Count: 48

    I pay HOA fees to the amount of $50/month for a house in Phoeniz, AZ. When I bought the house I emailed the HOA company using the email address I found on their website and asked if I could pay annually instead of monthly. I never received a reply so I went ahead and sent a check for the year ahead. Once again, I never received any receipt or confirmation they had received the payment so I emailed again to confirm. When there was no reply I tried calling the number on their website. I called over a dozen times to verify the HOA fees had been processed but they never answered the phone. When I checked my bank statement it showed the funds had been deducted so I was satisfied all was in good order. I had a property manager looking after the house whom I also passed on the HOA details to. I never heard anything from HOA directly or from the PM regarding the HOA. One year passes and I again tried to contact the HOA for 2 reasons- one to check where I was up to with HOA fees and to inform them the property managers had changed. After calling countless times I still never got through and then I left messages on their voicemail and received no return calls.Suddenly I get an email this year stating that 1.  I am overdue by one month on HOA fees2.  I have the sum of almost $1000 accrued in fines over the past year. I was shocked and horrified and asked for further details in about the fines. Basically the violations were relating to the tenants doing things like not cutting the lawn, having the bin visible from the street etc. I asked if either the tenants or the PM were sent warning notices. They said that no they were not because as they are the Home OWNER Association, they only send correspondence to the owner. I said that I lived overseas and asked how they had sent the warning notices. They said they had posted them and after checking the address I saw that is was incorrect. I assume they obtained my address from the Title agency who dealt with the closing or the agent. It is similar to my address in Australia and it appears that somewhere along the line that someone has simply written it down incorrectly and stuffed up the house numbers and letters.So the stupid HOA is demanding I pay the $1000 in accrued fines. I’m really, really annoyed about this situation. Does anyone have any good advice on how to best deal with this matter? 

    Profile photo of Scott No MatesScott No Mates
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    @scott-no-mates
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 3,856

    Cut and run. Consider buying in Nigeria. What more can one say? If you believe everything can be done by remote control in a country that you may never have been to or don’t understand their legal system or that lower life forms exist to rip you off, then you have to get hands on to take control of the situation. Go to Az. See the HOA meet with the new and previous pm etc. Take the time and get it sorted. Don’t faff around any longer. It is YOUR MONEY!

    Profile photo of Jacqui MiddletonJacqui Middleton
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    @jacm
    Join Date: 2009
    Post Count: 2,539

    Not being funny, but what can they do if you choose not to pay these fines?  You are not an American citizen, so what is their plan?  Extradition?  Hehhee

    Jacqui Middleton | Middleton Buyers Advocates
    http://www.middletonbuyersadvocates.com.au
    Email Me | Phone Me

    VIC Buyers' Agents for investors, home buyers & SMSFs.

    Profile photo of labradorinlovelabradorinlove
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    @labradorinlove
    Join Date: 2012
    Post Count: 48

    When I looked up home owners association on Wikipedia I read some startling information. They can apparently start adding interest to the amount and then they place a lien on your house. They’ve even forced some owners into foreclosure. It’s very scary. I prefer to sort it out ASAP. I feel the issue and the way it has unfolded to be unfair and unjust.

    Profile photo of xdrewxdrew
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    @xdrew
    Join Date: 2010
    Post Count: 479

    Negotiate on the whole amount.

    Say you are prepared to pay a certain amount as the fines are obviously due. However .. you say that they have had your number wrong for a significant period of time .. despite you providing the correct details. Thats not owner onus .. thats THEIR responsibility.

    That actually will go well in court. Should you need to go that far.

    Also .. dont assume that false details werent done deliberately. It is not unknown for these groups in other states to be in league with resale groups … so they have incentives in advancing to your forclosure. Yes .. its criminal. Just try to prove it.

    Dont let them bully you. American government institutions are wonderful bullies on this stuff. Contact someone who actually has some authority within the organisation and compromise. If you get an agreement .. get a fax in writing stating that.

    Negotiation is a nice way to say .. i'll pay something .. but not all of it. So they get their fine revenue .. and you get a little bit of a discount on the fines .. and everything works out. Thats what win-win situations are for.

    Profile photo of xdrewxdrew
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    @xdrew
    Join Date: 2010
    Post Count: 479
    JacM wrote:
    Not being funny, but what can they do if you choose not to pay these fines?  You are not an American citizen, so what is their plan?  Extradition?  Hehhee

    Its not a laughing matter. In one state I saw a property pushed all the way from being viable to being 26k in ongoing fines and interest payable. The sherriff steps in and organises a forclosure / resale on the property to recover fines and costs.

    As i've always said, dont assume that the US market is like ours. Its not. Its a lot harsher in some areas and penalties on property is one of them.

    I use 'minders' on my propertys. They are locals .. they are able to visit the property and they are a provisional contact for the local law enforcement. They get a small commission but they make sure that the basics are done. And they track mails.

    Profile photo of labradorinlovelabradorinlove
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    @labradorinlove
    Join Date: 2012
    Post Count: 48

    I appreciate your wisdom and I fully agree with negotiating with many deals in life but not in this situation. If I were even slightly in the wrong I’d feel happy to pay a small amount but I cannot be blamed for being at fault at all wouldn’t you say? I was frustrated enough that I’d never been able to get in contact with them and my emails were ignored. They are happy to accept my monthly dues but not bother to pick up the phone? Then slapping me with a $1000 fine is dispicable. It’s not even as if I was the one that didn’t mow the lawn or put the bin in the wrong place. Nor do I blame the tenants because they weren’t advised either.

    Profile photo of xdrewxdrew
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    @xdrew
    Join Date: 2010
    Post Count: 479

    This is where and why you need to learn negotiation when dealing with authorities and institutions.

    You are dealing with a US government authority and assuming that its not corrupt or deliberately asking for bakshish. You sit there and go on your high horse about what is in the longer term a pissy amount compared to potential gains, and you'll lose either on a merit basis, or on an actual legal basis. In a more obvious realm where there is corruption .. you'd be stuffed and up against a wall.

    They've sent you a high maxed accumulative penalty notice. Think they cant go higher? They can. Think that you can stand on your rights and go to court? You can. You lose and you'll be paying for that property the rest of your life.

    There comes a time where you realise that you either deal with the penalty you have and try to negotiate it down on what DIDNT happen. Its a loss .. but in the long run its a minor loss. Or you can sit on your high horse on the merit of your 'rights' which they really couldnt give a nickel on. Interest will accrue. They'll have lawyers on their payroll who not only know how to win .. but every loophole in the law as well. You .. come with your basic knowledge and a prayer.

    The hole gets a lot deeper Alice .. and you never know where that White Rabbit will take you.

    I'm a multi property owner across several countries as well as Australia. I know that my best defense is a creative offense rather than to play the letter of my rights. I have been ridiculed in Pennsylvania .. spat on in Texas and called an exploitative 'cracker' in Atlanta GA. On each occasion not only did i work out a tenable and workable situation .. I have actually kept all of them happy. That takes experience and a great deal of tolerance. You dont HAVE to put up with other people's stuff. But if you learn what they actually want .. you might be able to get the best out of them.

    Profile photo of emma171emma171
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    @emma171
    Join Date: 2011
    Post Count: 161

    In Vegas they are trying to enact legislation to limit the fines and accrued interest legally capable of being charged by HOA’s – the problem with HOA’s is they have so little money and half are going bankrupt themselves that they become very money hungry. Concur on the possibility of intentional mistyping…

    Did I mention I avoid HOA’s… they all seem so lovely to start with until you have someone pick on your tenant…. we have 1 person with an HOA (against my better judgement …lol) – and in Vegas of course we don’t have grass – but the pine needles from the neighbours tree and house blew onto the rocks and THAT was sufficient for a letter to be sent out. I have been out for a loose cable box, a left pizza delivery pamphlet … I think you get the idea… the day we closed on that property we had letter prewritten that was sent in regards to a dead bush…

    OWNERS associations tend to be very cliquey and OWNERS just really don’t like tenants in their midsts…!

    You will have to negotiate however if you have proof of the letters being sent to the wrong address, I do know of 2 people who have argued that successfully to have SERIOUS reductions made.

    Of course ALWAYS insist your property manager is copied in to all and any letters that are sent to you. Get that acknowledged in writing that they will do that and copy it in… further you can ask for all letters to also be emailed – cite your desire to work as quickly as possible to remedy any issues.

    Profile photo of jayhinrichsjayhinrichs
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    @jayhinrichs
    Join Date: 2011
    Post Count: 1,177
    JacM wrote:
    Not being funny, but what can they do if you choose not to pay these fines?  You are not an American citizen, so what is their plan?  Extradition?  Hehhee

    HOA can start a foreclosure action and take the house. I have bought a few over the years this way.

    Title company should have organized this when you settled

    Profile photo of jayhinrichsjayhinrichs
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    @jayhinrichs
    Join Date: 2011
    Post Count: 1,177
    emma171 wrote:
    In
    Concur. Having built oh probably 25 plus communities. We never turned over the HOA duties until we sold 100% of are lots or houses
    Remember HOA,s are usually run by your fellow homeowners and they by and large have no clue….wildly opposed views of how things should be run. And the Napolian compex

    Vegas they are trying to enact legislation to limit the fines and accrued interest legally capable of being charged by HOA’s – the problem with HOA’s is they have so little money and half are going bankrupt themselves that they become very money hungry. Concur on the possibility of intentional mistyping…

    Did I mention I avoid HOA’s… they all seem so lovely to start with until you have someone pick on your tenant…. we have 1 person with an HOA (against my better judgement …lol) – and in Vegas of course we don’t have grass – but the pine needles from the neighbours tree and house blew onto the rocks and THAT was sufficient for a letter to be sent out. I have been out for a loose cable box, a left pizza delivery pamphlet … I think you get the idea… the day we closed on that property we had letter prewritten that was sent in regards to a dead bush…

    OWNERS associations tend to be very cliquey and OWNERS just really don’t like tenants in their midsts…!

    You will have to negotiate however if you have proof of the letters being sent to the wrong address, I do know of 2 people who have argued that successfully to have SERIOUS reductions made.

    Of course ALWAYS insist your property manager is copied in to all and any letters that are sent to you. Get that acknowledged in writing that they will do that and copy it in… further you can ask for all letters to also be emailed – cite your desire to work as quickly as possible to remedy any issues.

    Profile photo of bigfirerichiebigfirerichie
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    @bigfirerichie
    Join Date: 2009
    Post Count: 12

    Thanks for cleaning up the pine needles Emma!

    I'll be in Vegas Thursday week to buy you nice meal and good wine!

    Profile photo of sapphire101sapphire101
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    @sapphire101
    Join Date: 2006
    Post Count: 203

    Xdrew is on the money here. Negotiate and settle. And welcome to the way Americans operate!

    After 5 or so visits extending to periods of 6 months at a time, I would be very wary of any govt dept. They are full of people who are trained to be excrutiatingly job specific, so cannot help you with one iota of information outside their job role. This , if you get through to them at all, will lead you on a merry dance around the dept without any resolve. It's the nature of the beast over there as govt administration is so top heavy, weighted down with red tape, paperwork forms and the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Getting things done quickly and efficiently is akin to changing course in the Titanic.

    Secondly, they don't care. It's just a job and you are one of thousands that they probably can't help because there duty of durisdiction does not cover your enquiry anyway.

    Expect no reply to messages and emails. This is considered normal across the board. Incredibly frustrating yes, but you have to persevere and with tact, you have to be strong in your 'demands'. Funnily enough they respond better when you're a ball breaker. Don't take no for an answer. Ask to speak with someone with greater authority and continue until you find someone who can act on your enguiry, not just discuss it.

    As an example of how things work, when I first filled out an ITIN form over there, I went into the Inland Revenue office ( twice) to ensure that the form was filled in correctly and I had the correct associated paperwork. Two IRS staff double checked everything before the form was passed on. Eight weeks later I received a letter from the IRS saying my application was invalid. The form had been filled out incorrectly. When I rang and told them that your IRS staff had filled out the form, they shrugged and said too bad. Its wrong… start again.

    Good luck.

    These issues are one of many reasons I chose to buy, rehab and sell in the US. I have enough landlord problems in Australia without the extra crazy issues that fly around over there.

    Ian
    http://www.theblockblog.com
    Free Property Investment Info, Tools & Resources for Investors… with a Sense of Humour.

    Profile photo of InvestorMickInvestorMick
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    @investormick
    Join Date: 2008
    Post Count: 55

    It sounds like it’s time for a US visit. Get over there and talk face to face and sort out the mess before it gets even more out of hand. It is so vital you have good contacts on the ground working for you as you can see, it is not so simple and can cost you big bucks.
    I do hope you are able to sort out the mess but don’t give up! Be persistent and remind them of the website, emails, phone calls etc you made. This is not all your fault!

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