Disputed HOA billing

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seychellois_lib
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Disputed HOA billing

Post by seychellois_lib » Mon May 21, 2018 5:52 pm

Long story short, I believe my HOA has inappropriately acted to perform services and bill back to me. I am disputing the billing but so far the HOA has not been communicative. Today I sent them a certified response requested letter stating my case and asking them to reference CCR which gave them authority to do what they did and bill me for it. Previously I had been using e-mail with no response from them. We are about three weeks into the dispute timeline.

My concern is what steps should I take to ensure my sterling credit rating is not impacted until the issues are fully resolved and HOA has appropriately referenced applicable CCR? In my opinion the HOA Management acted outside the CCRs calling the situation an "emergency" which is not defined in the CCRs. Certainly there was no imminent danger to life or property. Maybe they have another play, I don't know.

At any rate, does anyone have any advice on what I can/should do to protect my credit until this is resolved? Money is not an issue but I'll be darned if I am going to pay a $500 bill which I think is bogus. I hate to go to an attorney because it'll cost me $500 to breathe the air in their offices. I find myself in this strange space where it's like "pay the $500 and make it go away" or get my credit ruined while I spend time putting HOA Management's feet to the fire.

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Pajamas
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by Pajamas » Mon May 21, 2018 5:58 pm

Did you check the rules issued by the HOA? They are more likely to cover something like this than the CC&Rs.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Mon May 21, 2018 6:04 pm

What services did the HOA perform that you were in turn charged for?

How did you determine the charge was bogus? A bit more info would be helpful.

Their idea of what is a necessary action obviously is at odds with your ideas.

Broken Man 1999
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jogren
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by jogren » Mon May 21, 2018 6:05 pm

It usually takes a “long” time for businesses to send billing to a credit recovery service or report your account as delinquent.. I doubt that the HOA will do this in such a short time period and, especially if you can get them to respond, unlikely that they will report it as delinquent. Also, I was incorrectly turned over a number of years ago and the business was able to call the credit service and reverse the whole process.

save-early-often
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by save-early-often » Mon May 21, 2018 6:24 pm

I would make sure to check the by-laws to request that this topic be added to the agenda of the next HOA meeting. Some HOAs are very procedurally driven. If you don't follow the rules, they may not feel obligated to respond. If you still don't hear from them, make sure you show up at the next meeting in person and see if you can bring the topic up during a public session (if they have one). At the end of the day you want the meeting minutes to reflect you were trying to understand 'the process'.

Hope that helps.

runner3081
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by runner3081 » Mon May 21, 2018 6:27 pm

Fight it or not, you will keep accruing fees to no end.

TravelforFun
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by TravelforFun » Mon May 21, 2018 6:36 pm

I used to be on my HOA Board. We frequently had to send crews to mow people's yards because they neglected them and our notices. Then we would send them the bill. Some would pay but most would not. We wouldn't report to the credit agencies. We would let the bill and fees accumulate and sooner or later, they would be settled ... at closing when people sold their homes.Those bills and fees don't go away.

TravelforFun

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LadyGeek
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by LadyGeek » Mon May 21, 2018 6:45 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (HOA).
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon May 21, 2018 7:40 pm

If you send it to the HOA mailing address it goes to the management company. They SHOULD communicate with the board. It is possible that they do not, either because of inefficiency or a misunderstanding of their role.

If you do not receive a response, you should take your issue directly to the board at the next meeting. Most (virtually all?) HOAs have a homeowner comment period.

Now it is just possible that the charge was a result of board action. If so- you can dispute this at the meeting. If you are not successful your next approach is legal action.

We may want to solve problems with emails and certified letters, but often a personal appearance is best.

Tachyon
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by Tachyon » Mon May 21, 2018 7:52 pm

I recall the first thing to do when disputing the HOA is to pay the bill. Then fight the process.
It's because fees can accrue, and they often have the power to start a foreclosure process on your home.

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seychellois_lib
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by seychellois_lib » Tue May 22, 2018 12:48 am

Thanks everyone for the feedback. A bit more detail on what happened.

I am planning to sell the home and gave tenant 60 days notice. As they were moving out tenants placed a number of household items on the road as "free, take me" items. HOA determined this was a nuisance and attracting "transients" . The HOA placed a letter in the mail but had taken action to move the stuff before I received the notification. I believe they took action the very day they posted the letter to me.

Had I been aware there was an issue I would have been out there immediately.

In the meantime, my next door neighbor has piled a bunch of debris on my lot and it has been sitting there for two weeks now. I just feel like the HOA has hit me with a sledgehammer and is not consistently executing enforcement. The other technical factor is the offending "take me" items were on the public street, not on an HOA managed "lot". So one could argue the HOA had no authority to move or touch anything.

I am sensitive to this because several years ago I complained about a neighbors car leaking copious oil on the street where he parked in front of his house. This impacted me because to get to my car I had to walk through tracks of oil. The HOA responded they had no authority on the street and I should contact the City to deal with this issue.

likashing
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by likashing » Tue May 22, 2018 1:14 am

seychellois_lib wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 12:48 am
Thanks everyone for the feedback. A bit more detail on what happened.

I am planning to sell the home and gave tenant 60 days notice. As they were moving out tenants placed a number of household items on the road as "free, take me" items. HOA determined this was a nuisance and attracting "transients" . The HOA placed a letter in the mail but had taken action to move the stuff before I received the notification. I believe they took action the very day they posted the letter to me.

Had I been aware there was an issue I would have been out there immediately.

In the meantime, my next door neighbor has piled a bunch of debris on my lot and it has been sitting there for two weeks now. I just feel like the HOA has hit me with a sledgehammer and is not consistently executing enforcement. The other technical factor is the offending "take me" items were on the public street, not on an HOA managed "lot". So one could argue the HOA had no authority to move or touch anything.

I am sensitive to this because several years ago I complained about a neighbors car leaking copious oil on the street where he parked in front of his house. This impacted me because to get to my car I had to walk through tracks of oil. The HOA responded they had no authority on the street and I should contact the City to deal with this issue.
"As they were moving out tenants placed a number of household items on the road as "free, take me" items."

Junk or usable items as you have described? Sounds to me the tenants didn't want to pay for proper disposal and just left them there.

I am sure the HOA posted a notice on the pile of items too, in addition to a mailed/emailed notification, but obviously you could not get it because you do not live there.

Fair or not, HOA is not equipped to handle landlords who rent out their units. Why do they need to give you extra time because you don't live there?You can charge it against your tenant's security deposit too. If it were me, I would just chalk it up as a business expense. You can fight the HOA, but this is the same HOA you will go up against in the future as a landlord who is not in the community.

People like to make the HOAs sound evil, but imagine being your neighbors and live next to this pile of "stuff" your tenant left every time they go out of the house.
Last edited by likashing on Tue May 22, 2018 1:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

Goal33
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by Goal33 » Tue May 22, 2018 1:15 am

Pay it, sell it, and never buy in an HOA again
A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

NightFall
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by NightFall » Tue May 22, 2018 9:10 am

likashing wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 1:14 am
People like to make the HOAs sound evil, but imagine being your neighbors and live next to this pile of "stuff" your tenant left every time they go out of the house.
HOAs are evil. In what sort of a world does putting stuff on the street outside your house lead to a foreclosure on your house? The HOA can charge you for services that you never wanted performed. But the real evil is the fees. I can't think of any business that can simply let fees add up to the point where your house is taken from you. Even credit card companies that charge 20+% interest don't go that far. You never hear about the $200 purchase that wasn't paid and 30 years later MasterCard takes their house. Regular businesses send unpaid bills to collections and destroy your credit. HOAs take your house.

NewtonsApple
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by NewtonsApple » Tue May 22, 2018 9:17 am

I have to say, you are not going to win this one. I can guarantee this without even seeing any of your association docs. Pay it and be done with it.

Assuming the stuff was on the street that the condo property is on, it is absolutely within the control of the condo association. The sidewalk is likely a public easement on the condo property. Your only hope would be if your condo docs don't clearly give the association the authority to bill you for these sorts of things and issue any of this type of fines. It is unlikely this is absent from your docs if they are acting in this manner, but worth a check.

Where you likely screwed up is not having a good lease with the tenant to be able to pass these fees directly to them.

Dottie57
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by Dottie57 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:31 am

NightFall wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:10 am
likashing wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 1:14 am
People like to make the HOAs sound evil, but imagine being your neighbors and live next to this pile of "stuff" your tenant left every time they go out of the house.
HOAs are evil. In what sort of a world does putting stuff on the street outside your house lead to a foreclosure on your house? The HOA can charge you for services that you never wanted performed. But the real evil is the fees. I can't think of any business that can simply let fees add up to the point where your house is taken from you. Even credit card companies that charge 20+% interest don't go that far. You never hear about the $200 purchase that wasn't paid and 30 years later MasterCard takes their house. Regular businesses send unpaid bills to collections and destroy your credit. HOAs take your house.
I can only speak for myself, but HOAs are not evil. I live in a condo with HOA fees. I Receive a copy of the budget each year.
There isn’t much fat on it. Fees take care of maintenance items. Common areas are lit and maintained.

My mom and I compared maintenance costs between her house and my condo. My costs were much lower.

CurlyDave
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by CurlyDave » Tue May 22, 2018 9:55 am

A. Was the "stuff" on the street or on the sidewalk?

B. HOAs tend to dislike landlords. People who live in the units they own take much better care of them than tenants. While you may have the right to rent your property, they have the right to not like it.

C. I have always avoided HOA properties. While I don't think they are evil, I know they are undesirable for me. Other people like them, there is room in the world for both types.

D. Consider the cost an educational business expense. If the tenant has a sufficient deposit, take it out of that. If not, it is a real business expense and will reduce your tax burden.

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8foot7
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by 8foot7 » Tue May 22, 2018 10:46 am

I would offer to settle the matter for the actual cost of the disposal of the items left on the street. No fees or markup. If they don't like that, then hire an attorney and present the written note you received that said HOA has no authority over the street. Let attorney write sharp letter and serve HOA board with that letter. Then offer to pay for the disposal with no fees. Deduct your actual costs (disposal plus any attorney involvement) from your tenants' security deposit.

mouses
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by mouses » Tue May 22, 2018 11:13 am

What is this "attracts transients"? Putting Free stuff out is relatively common. In my area anything decent disappears in about a day. What does the HOA think the "transients" are going to do with it, except take it away?

Yes, it sounds like you need to add a clause to your lease. Maybe there is already a clause in there that would cover this and let you recover the disposal fee from the security deposit.

I would be more concerned about the stuff your neighbor has put on your property. Have you spoken to the neighbor?

NewtonsApple
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by NewtonsApple » Tue May 22, 2018 12:58 pm

Was the $500 the fine amount or the actual removal cost? The only avenue I see you have is if the ability to charge that exact amount as a fine is not clearly spelled out. The amount of fines cannot be arbitrary.

I guarantee there is a clause stating that common areas not be used for storage of personal property. Seemingly reasonable or not, anything left out overnight would be in clear violation. There are likely several other clauses that could apply.

If the items were placed in the public street (well why are they putting junk in the street?), the HOA could cite acting in its own interest to protect itself as many cities (mine included) would quickly fine the association leaving junk in the road (doesn't matter how nice it is).

likashing
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by likashing » Tue May 22, 2018 1:04 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:31 am
NightFall wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:10 am
likashing wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 1:14 am
People like to make the HOAs sound evil, but imagine being your neighbors and live next to this pile of "stuff" your tenant left every time they go out of the house.
HOAs are evil. In what sort of a world does putting stuff on the street outside your house lead to a foreclosure on your house? The HOA can charge you for services that you never wanted performed. But the real evil is the fees. I can't think of any business that can simply let fees add up to the point where your house is taken from you. Even credit card companies that charge 20+% interest don't go that far. You never hear about the $200 purchase that wasn't paid and 30 years later MasterCard takes their house. Regular businesses send unpaid bills to collections and destroy your credit. HOAs take your house.
I can only speak for myself, but HOAs are not evil. I live in a condo with HOA fees. I Receive a copy of the budget each year.
There isn’t much fat on it. Fees take care of maintenance items. Common areas are lit and maintained.

My mom and I compared maintenance costs between her house and my condo. My costs were much lower.
After seeing my friend go nuts in his neighborhood of $2m houses where one of the neighbors decided to Airbnb their house, with strangers showing up and staying for 1-3 day spans, I don't think HOA is all that evil.

Some travelers look normal. Many look like they Airbnb because they cannot afford a proper hotel and have a caravan of junk cars and 15 people staying in a 4 bedroom house.

Maybe a small HOA that takes care of the front lawn and side-walk for minimal fees, with rules against short term rental is my perfect scenario.

But back to my point... just treat it as a business expense and learn from it. Charge it against your tenant's deposit if it is not too late. If you have already refunded... oh well. Lots of investors own multiple condos as rentals. You just have to learn.

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seychellois_lib
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Re: Disputed HOA billing

Post by seychellois_lib » Tue May 22, 2018 11:14 pm

Thanks again everyone, The general consensus is that I ought to suck it up. Goodness how I hate to do that, but I understand the point many of you are making.

What makes it a bit more painful is the tenant was a deadbeat. Did not pay last months rent. The place was left a pigsty, etc. No severe damage but $4K worth of paint and fixes later I am pretty upset to get a $500 bill from the HOA. Going after the tenant is a non-starter from a gain/loss standpoint.

I am a classic accidental landlord. Bought a house, bottom dropped out. Bought another house and rented the subject property awaiting a recovery. Good news is I had the wherewithal to hold on to the property until the RE recovery came along and I will likely sell the place with a small gain. Bad news is I got a scumbag tenant despite reasonable due diligence up front.

With respect to HOAs in general, I like them. I lived in a condo with a well managed HOA and I thought it was very good. Frankly the HOA in question is also very good and is a plus for the quality of the neighborhood. What I am upset about is my inability to do anything before they spent money. I couldn't do anything because I didn't know there was an issue.

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