Video Courtesy of
November 12, 2009
citizens advocacy group is urging residents involved in a flap with
their homeowners association to learn their rights.
6 is spending the entire day focusing on HOAs, and Jan Bergemann, of
Cyber Citizens For Justice, said homeowners need to first learn the
rules and laws in dealing with HOAs.
homeowners have contacted Local 6 recently, seeking help after
receiving intimidating letters from their HOA.
Bisking and Susan Dearolf, who live in the Canoe Creek Woods
subdivision in St. Cloud, said they can't pay their HOA dues right
have reasons, just like everyone in this world today is having a
hard time," said Bisking, who started receiving notices from
her HOA months ago.
probably looked at it and said, 'Here's another bill I can't pay and
just tossed it aside," said
Dearolf, who has also received
notices from her HOA.
women have been sent lawsuits to foreclose if they do not pay back
mean, come on, they're robbing us," Bisking said.
said she feels like she signed a pact with the devil.
am I supposed to say? 'I give up, just take the house?' "
was already struggling with her mortgage when her son was hit by a
car while riding his bike, causing more medical bills she could not
then I got this stupid homeowners association that I have to deal
with, which they don't offer anything to us," Bisking said.
subdivision is caught up in a so-called "turf war." Only
half the residents at Canoe Creek Woods pay HOA dues, and there is
nothing the HOA can do about it.
the residents in the 500-home community use the same entrance, which
the HOA pays to maintain, along with the land around seven retention
ponds in the subdivision.
258 homes on the north side of Creek Wood Drive are responsible for
the annual dues in the neighborhood.
Creek Woods HOA president Anthony Davola said in the early '90s the
homes to the south argued they had no common ground to maintain and
won. The HOA was dissolved, but the bills did not stop.
now, we're sitting on a high rate of foreclosure on our side, and
there's a high rate of foreclosure on that side," Davola said.
said he was reluctant to send out the lawsuits to Bisking and
Dearolf, but if the HOA does not take action, it could collapse.
the years we've had meetings where homeowners that felt that they
didn't want to pay because that side didn't pay, but they can't
break away from it. It's like a tombstone. Once it's there, it won't
go away, and you have to pay," Devola said.
can technically dissolve their HOA with a unanimous vote. The
go into receivership, but an attorney said the
fees could jump to as much as three times the current fees, so it is
a risky move.
to Cyber Citizens For Justice, homeowners should do the following to
"fight for their rights:"
the rules and laws.
ignore letters received from the association. Respond
immediately by certified letter.
not send emotional e-mails and/or telephone calls.
rely on verbal agreements or promises, and always create a paper
letters received from board, management and/or attorney are
aimed at intimidating the homeowner. Respond accordingly and do
research before falling into traps. The Internet provides many
immediately to the so-called 45-day lien/foreclosure notice
letter (FS 720.3085).
receiving letters, donít think, ďItís just the HOA.Ē The
HOA can take your home but only if the debt is for unpaid dues
and assessments -- not for fines.
ignore so-called presuit mediation offers (FS 720.311). You lose
your right to recover legal fees even if you win the lawsuit.
your association takes you to court without offering presuit
mediation, ask the judge to dismiss the case. The association
ignored the statutes requiring mandatory presuit mediation.
more information, visit FLLegalServices.com
Local 6 News for more information about HOAs.
on the HOAs