Article Courtesy of WTSP 10 NEWS
By Kendra Conlon
July 1, 2017
Paint your mailbox, pay a $1,000 fine or we'll
foreclose on your house.
That's the message a Wesley Chapel homeowners’ association is sending to
homeowner Joe DeVirde.
The problem is DiVerde says he didn't get the notice, until it was too
late. Now, an address mix-up and some chipping paint could cost him his
this comes down to is my mailbox,” says DiVerde. Diverde
never imagined his mailbox could cause so many problems.
“It's pretty insane. It's unreal,” says DiVerde.
Associa, the property management company for Seven Oaks
subdivision, believed his mailbox needed painting and
sent out a warning notice last August.
It would've been an easy fix, but the letter went to
DiVerde’s ex-girlfriend, who hasn’t lived there in
“This is the one from August," DiVerde said of the
letter. "Basically (it) has an address that I've never
In an email to DiVerde, Associa admits that they knew
that his ex-girlfriend had been taken off the deed with
the county in 2014. But, when she changed her address
last year, the management company started forwarding
DiVerde’s HOA notices, including his dues and
This mailbox set of a dispute that led to a lien
being put on a man's home.
“The first thing they should've sent me was a sorry letter saying we
didn't send you these and we made a mistake, and we actually changed the
address,” DiVerde says.
Instead, he says the first notice he got was three months later saying
he'd been slapped with a $1,000 fine.
“And they put a lien on my house. Now they intend to foreclose on my
house. I don't know who could deal with this kind of stuff,” says
The homeowner says he's tried to work it out. “I’ve proven to them that
they've made mistakes. I've tried to resolve it,” DiVerde says. But he
claims he's been getting the run-around and says he was told by the
board and Associa that it's now up to attorneys to handle it.
An email to DiVerde on May 25th from attorney Bush Ross says the HOA
board has to decide whether to accept a repayment plan.
A Bush Ross letter to DiVerde shows: $72 for annual dues, plus a $1,000
fine has already accrued 18 percent interest and fees of nearly $800.
DiVerde says other neighbors' violations are being overlooked.
“I shouldn't have to pay for this. I want the lien taken off my house,”
A statement from Associa Community Association Manager Patty Desthers
“Bush Ross, the association attorney, is working with the Association
and the owners to finalize the resolution of the matter. I believe the
Federal and State laws regarding the collection of debts are very
specific in terms of what can be said or discussed by anyone attempting
to collect and I out of respect for the resident I cannot say anything
more than that. The association and the lawyers have been very
considerate and are trying to do all we can to work through these issues
on behalf of all the homeowners in the association. We and they cannot
talk about these types of matters without concern for violating the
rights of those who may owe fees.”
DiVerde says he'll fork over the fines if he has to, just to live in
peace with his up-to-code, painted mailbox.
“I'm not admitting to it, because I didn't do anything wrong. I also
don't want them to put a foreclosure lien on my house. I'm just an
average person. I can't take all this, this drama. It hasn't gone into
foreclosure status yet. It’s pretty crazy over a mailbox,” says DiVerde.
What can homeowners do? Foreclosure Defense Attorney Ryan Torrens says
as soon as you get a violation, respond to the HOA in writing through
regular and certified mail. Contest it to the HOA board, like DiVerde
tried to do.
Torrens says it should be argued that it’s an invalid fine, because
DiVerde wasn't properly notified.
Torrens says the HOA has a year to enforce the lien against DiVerde. The
homeowner can also contest it in court. If he does that the HOA has two
months to move forward with foreclosure or drop it.
They could also reach a mutual agreement.
This isn’t the first HOA battle 10News has covered with Bush Ross.
A Riverview family took on the same HOA attorneys fighting to save their
home. It started over a missed $150 HOA payment that skyrocketed to more
than $7,000 in fees and fines.
This week, Tina and Luis Lopez got to celebrate with Rivercrest
neighbors and friends that the foreclosure has been tossed out. They can
stay in their Riverview home.
They also thanked 10News Reporter Kendra Conlon for her coverage over
the past year, exposing the HOA battle.
“It got down to where we lost the house, and there was still hope. It
was a miracle, because Kendra said there's got to be something else,”
says Homeowner Luis Lopez.
10News connected the family to attorney Torrens, who got the HOA to cut
the bill in half.
The Lopez family's struggles, in part, inspired the lawyer to run for
“There are so many abuses that take place in our system by the
government, unfortunately, by large companies, by the banks. There are
everyday working people (who) keep getting the shaft,” says Torrens.
Hillsborough County Judge Ashley Moody and Jacksonville Representative
Jay Fant are the only other candidates to officially join the race so
Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi is term-limited and can't seek
re-election to a third consecutive term.