Unpaid fees cost local man his home

Article and Video Courtesy of First Coast News

By Ken Amaro  

Published November 9, 2014

 Watch VIDEO

It sounds crazy but when John Shaffer failed to pay the maintenance fee for a road that's not even in his subdivision, it ended up costing him his home. On Your Side, Ken Amaro reports. 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It seems hard to believe that someone could lose their home for failing to pay late fees related to their community assessment.

"I'm still in disbelief," said John Shaffer.

Shaffer, a prolific musician, Ph. D., and grandfather can't wrap his hands nor his mind around what happened.

"I don't see how this happened," said Shaffer. "I don't see how this happened."

On Oct. 28, his home was auctioned off for $12,700 to Duval Land Trust, pursuant to chapter 45 of Florida statutes.

"It is just not right," he said.
How did it happen?
Court documents show Shaffer owed maintenance fees from October 2011 to January 2014 for a total of $177.70. Shaffer said he eventually paid, but not the attorney fees. He said he was not properly invoiced.

"All I did was argued paying a legal fee that I don't think, to this day, that I owe," he said.

His failure to pay the attorney fees turned into a property lien in 2013, and then it became a foreclosure. He said he was notified of the foreclosure, but did not think it would translate into him losing his home. On Oct. 28, his home was sold to satisfy the debt.

"This is like an invisible hand coming down on a guy who has never been late in 12 years," he said. "Never been late on my mortgage, my JEA bill, my Comcast, nothing."


Shaffer said he found out his home was sold after he received a letter stating he was entitled to a refund from the sale.

"I thought there has got to be some mistake," he said.

It was not and now he wants to fight back. He said there was no due process, he said he was not properly notified his home was being sold beforehand.

"I want my house," said Shaffer.

First for you, if you are behind on HOA fees or maintenance fees, always consult an attorney.

Shaffer has now hired an attorney. He doesn't know if it will make a difference, but he said he intends to fight to keep the home he's owned for the past 12 years.