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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 6855
Experience:  Attorney 40 plus years private practice. Real Estate, Wills, Trusts, Injury claims. Still active.
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I am having a legal issue regarding my association dues. Its

Customer Question

I am having a legal issue regarding my association dues. Its quarterly payments. I admit I was very late (2 months) with my April payment. $450 was due. I paid $495 on May 31, which included late charges. 9 days later I received a letter from a law firm and they were asking for more than just my late fees. I called and told them I already made my payment and the girl that answered said if I could show proof my account balance would be zero. I sent her my bank statement showing the funds were deducted. I then received my check back in the mail from the law firm and they said it's being returned because it was supposed to go to the law firm. At that time I had also already made my quarterly July payment on time to the association. The law firm then put a lien on my property and said in owed both payments even though I made them, but they wanted them to come to the law firm, except due to the timing and crossing of mail there was a gap in their mind, but in my mind I was good to go. They are asking for over $800 in attorney's fees for all the correspondence and the demand letter and claim of lien. It's unbelievable. I sent an email to the law firm and also the property manager explaining all this. Do I have a leg to stand on
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 4 months ago.

Were you notified either by the Association or their lawyers to make future payments to the lawyers exclusively? If not, then the lawyers don't have a leg to stand on with their ridiculous demand for $800 for processing a piece of correspondence. Frankly as a lawyer myself, I'm sick of hearing about lawyers doing what you claim these lawyers have done. You should consider filing an ethics complaint with your state Bar Association or Supreme Court.

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Unfortunately I cannot locate the original letter so Im not sure. All I know is that when I got the letter I immediately called the law firm, explained that my payment had already been made to the association, said that I intended to make my july payment on time, and all the person said was that if I could prove that my april payment was made (i have proof) and if my july payment was made on time, my acct would be zero. She did not explain that my april payment was going to be returned to me and that my july payment needed to be made out to the law firm. I thought I was fine. Its possible the original letter advised me to make the july payment to the law firm but Im not sure and the lady didnt highlight that in our conversation. If they send me a copy of the letter and show that they advised me to make future payments to them, do I have a leg to stand on? Most of the $800 is for the demand letter and claim of lien. Im so angry
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 4 months ago.

You can always object to attorney fees on the basis that they are overcharging. That will be a violation Of the Canons of Legal Ethics which every state adheres to. The girl you spoke to on the phone was probably no more than a paralegal or secretary. I guarantee you that they did not incur any lawyers time in most letters. You should try to get one of the partners of the law firm on the phone and negotiate a minor the for their trouble. If they refuse, I would refuse to pay it and force them to sue for it. I would also complained of the board of the HOAAbout why they are sicking attack dog lawyers on members who Happened to run into the problem with the payment or two.

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
how does the lien work? Can they seize my property while the clock ticks? Does this affect my credit or anything? Basically how do I stop the clock so that they dont keep charging me while I am disputing this?
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 4 months ago.

The lien is a notice of charge against the property which must be satisfied or released by the lien holder before clear title can be passed to another person. They can't simply seize the property, and must go through a formal foreclosure process. In a foreclosure suit, a court can order the property to be sold to satisfy the lien. State laws vary on the right of a HOA to foreclose on a property under various circumstances, and that gets complicated. If it gets to that point, you're going to need a lawyer which will cost more than what they are trying to charge. Therefore I suggest that you reach a compromise settlement with the Association and the attorneys to avoid that possibility.

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Expert:  Irwin Law replied 4 months ago.

'seize' the property.