Homeowners association fees on the rise

Article and Video Courtesy of 
MY FOX Channel 13 -- TAMPA

By Kristin Wright
Published March 26, 2009

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TAMPA - Some homeowners in the Tampa Bay area are being forced to pay for their neighbors.

Already struggling to pay mortgages, they also have to pick up the slack in association fees. The boards of many homeowners and condo associations are increasing membership fees, in order to make up for dollars lost by homeowners delinquent in paying their dues.

Rampart Properties in Tampa is one of many management groups facing this challenge. Vice President Kelly Moran says many communities are in crisis.

"Job loss, people losing their jobs, and the first thing they're not going to pay is an HOA or a condo fee," Moran told FOX 13, describing the problem as widespread.

Rampart owns Chelsea Meadows in Land O' Lakes. Moran says the property is in disrepair because few homeowners are able to keep up with rising association fees. Moran says the 

community's condo association is $89,000 dollars in the hole. The board president says only 30 of 120 units are paying monthly fees. Adding to the problem, 37 units are also in foreclosure.


Homeowner Edwin Rodriguez and his wife bought in Chelsea Meadows in 2006. The couple has a newborn baby and feels with so many eyesores and maintenance oversights, why should they pay? When he looks around the property, Rodriguez wonders why his condo fees have more than doubled to $270 a month. He says the board hasn't kept its end of the deal.

"I haven't seen maintenance or a lawn company in this particular area for months. If not close to a year," Rodriguez said.


Management admits it has suspended most services. Landscaping is seldom. The pool is in complete disrepair.


"When they stop paying, obviously things can't get done and it's a vicious cycle," Condo Association President Danon Noga said. "If they stop paying, the more things can't get done and the property starts to look in shambles."


Moran says property management groups nationwide are increasing rates because of increasing delinquency taking place in all types of communities. Homeowners at Rampart's high-end Island Place on Harbour Island in Tampa are being asked to pay more too. Moran sympathizes with struggling families, but says they have agreed to look out for the best interests of the neighborhood.


"That's part of living in a community," Moran said. "It's communal living."


Chelsea Meadows will be getting some TLC pretty soon. Some of the vendors who service the community will be donating their time to help clean it up on May 2.