and Video Courtesy of WKMG Channel 6 News
By Mike DeForest
Published February 25, 2021
OSCEOLA COUNTY – A family that mistakenly placed
trash bags along the curb for collection on the wrong day received a
$927 bill from their homeowner’s association, a fee the property owners
considered unreasonable because they received no prior warning.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Wade Suckoo, a 17-year
resident of the Brighton Lakes subdivision near Kissimmee. “If I commit
a violation on my property, send me a warning notice that says, ‘Hey,
you’re in violation. Take care of it’.”
Suckoo claimed he was unaware of an HOA rule prohibiting trash
containers from being left on the street for more than 36 hours.
After Suckoo contacted News 6 to express frustration with the unexpected
charge, the volunteer board of directors that oversees the Brighton
Lakes Community Association reduced Suckoo’s bill to $100 for the 15
trash bags he admits he left on the curb.
“I’m a man of principle. You do not try to rip me off like that,” said
In early September, as Suckoo was making improvements to his home’s
landscaping, he filled several large trash bags with discarded mulch.
“I put out around 15 to 17 bags,” he said.
On the Wednesday morning the county’s solid waste division was scheduled
to pick up bulk trash items, Suckoo said he placed the bags of mulch
along the curb.
“When I came back from work around a quarter to four, I saw that the
bags were still there,” he said.
Trash collectors do not pick up bags of mulch on bulk item collection
days, according to an Osceola County spokesperson. Instead, such debris
would be collected on days specifically designated for yard waste.
When Suckoo contacted the county, he claims he was told to leave the
bags on the curb for yard waste collection the following Tuesday, nearly
six days later.
But before county trash collectors arrived, the bags of mulch vanished.
“Sunday night a pickup truck came with a trailer, and they picked it
up,” said Suckoo.
The homeowner later learned the truck was driven by a handyman who had
been hired by the HOA to remove Suckoo’s trash bags.
Two months later, Suckoo received a letter from the HOA’s attorney
demanding that he pay $927 for the cleanup.
The charge included a $400 bill from the handyman, a $200 HOA fee and
$327 in attorney costs fees.
Under Brighton Lakes HOA rules, the association has the authority to
remove trash from a homeowner’s property and issue a bill for cleanup.
“In a time like this with COVID, who has $900 to blow on something
stupid like this?” asked Suckoo, who said he lost two weeks of work this
year while battling the virus.
Besides being blindsided by the unexpected cleanup bill, Suckoo disputes
the number of trash bags the handyman claims he took from the curb.
The handyman’s invoice indicated “over 60 bags” had been removed.
“That’s impossible,” said the homeowner, who insisted he had only placed
about 15 bags of mulch on the curb.
Suckoo’s neighbor told News 6 he recalled seeing only about 15 or 20
bags on the curb that day.
“It was a small pile,” said Joe Gominho.
But the handyman, Frankie Santos, told News 6 he properly billed the HOA
for the bags he collected.
“My back was hurting the next day,” said Santos.
Santos took a photo, which he attached to the invoice, that shows the
pile of trash bags before he loaded them onto his truck.
Suckoo believes that photo, which was attached to the handyman’s
invoice, confirms there were much fewer than 60 trash bags.
The homeowner later questioned the HOA’s law firm about the apparent
discrepancy between the photo and the invoice.
“Since we (the attorney’s office) don’t see it personally, we only have
that to go on,” a paralegal with the Frazier & Bowles law firm wrote in
an email to Suckoo. “We also don’t know if there were more bags
underneath or if that photo was taken after some bags had been removed.
Either way, the trash was not supposed to be there and had to be
removed, This is their fee for removing the trash and is
After contacting News 6, Suckoo said he raised concerns about the trash
cleanup bill at the next HOA meeting and was put in direct contact with
a board attorney.
“The Association’s vendors, both a trash removal company and management
company, have the pre-authorized, standing authority to remove major
debris (including trash bags) from the property, the lawn, or the curb,”
the Brighton Lakes Community Association Board of Directors wrote in a
statement to News 6.
“(The) Board of Directors was not pleased to review the work of the
vendor on the file, including the timeliness of the notifications and
the level of record documentation to support an abatement invoice for
trash removal left on the curb/driveway,” the statement said.
“Currently, the Board of Directors is evaluating its vendor policies and
contracts to take into account a reasonable amount of days for the
county’s bulk trash pickup based upon the county schedule.”
Although Suckoo says he would have gladly moved the trash bags off the
curb had the HOA reminded him of the rules and given him the opportunity
to do it, he agreed to pay the $100 cleanup bill.
“I am going to try to get on the HOA board the next time there’s an open
seat,” Suckoo told News 6. “The HOA has too much power here in Brighton