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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2958
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Collection Agency wants to lien my Property for HOA arrears

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Happy Friday! I am in a similar situation as the one I'm reading about - due to unemployment and underemployment I'm being pursued by a Collection Agency for HOA Arrears. I too live in California. The claim is that I owe the following: Regular Assessment - $4,046.00 Late Charges - $413.70 Interest - $1,637.61 (I was never told by the HOA Board of Directors that interest was accruing on my past due account) Collection Fee - $300 Vesting Costs - $185 Management Collection Cost - $200 Other Costs - $50 Grand Total - $6,832.31 due September 20, 2013 This is a Notice of Intent to Lien and I want to avoid a Lien altogether. The Collection Agency mentions they want payment in full unless I've entered into a payment agreement on the balance. It also states I can request a meeting with the Board of Directors in Executive Session to discuss a Payment Plan if one cannot be agreed to with their Office. They also mention if my separate interest is place in foreclosure because I am behin in my Assessments, it may be sold without court action. Which of these fees can I negotiate away to get this cost down? Should I attempt to negotiate with the Collection Agency or meet with the Board? They have a meeting on September 12. If a payment arrangement can be met, what would you consider reasonable to request? Am I able to charge part of all of this off in a Bankruptcy?  Many thanks for your advice. You make it a phenomenal Friday and weekend. Warmest Regards!

Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 11 months ago.

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

I am sorry to learn of this unfortunate situation, collections actions by HOAs are difficult as they have statutory authority to pursue these costs, fees, and interest against you in addition to the unpaid assessments. However, there is usually room for negotiations. I cannot give you specific strategic advice, but I can advise you as to the areas where HOA boards are most able to negotiate based simply on the type of fees being discussed.

William B. Esq. :

Generally, the HOA assessments themselves are not negotiated (they can be, and there is nothing wrong with asking), but the general principle here is that every other homeowner paid the assessment, so the delinquent debtor should as well.

William B. Esq. :

The collection fees are similar (the debtor caused the fees to be incurred and should pay), but often the debtor can argue the costs are excessive and should be reduced.

William B. Esq. :

The interest and late fees are the most commonly negotiated fees. Arguably, the HOA has not lost any money at all in negotiating away these fees as they are penalties as opposed to fees that are taken out of the actual HOA budget.

William B. Esq. :

HOAs generally are more willing to negotiate more generously with debtors that are able to provide a "lump sum" settlement as opposed to a payment plan (many homeowners are able to reduce liability by getting a loan from family members etc. to help pay off the debt at a discount). And you should not limit your negotiations by the above general principles, I just provided these ideas so that you have an idea as to what the HOA Board is working against for its fiduciary duties to the HOA.

Customer:

Thanks so much Mr. William B. I'm feeling somewhat relieved as I write. My HOA is far more understanding than The Collection Agency as they are aware that my becoming delinquent was due to unemployment, underemployment and saving my home from being foreclosed on by the Bank. They absolutely don't want my Property to foreclose because we are sandwiched between 2 Section 8 building and if I foreclose, their values will tank, so I have that advantage, thank God! Three questions for you: How often can I write to you about this particular challenge and that I've paid $36? Should I negotiate directly with the Board or talk with the Collection Agency first? Can I dispute the Assessments they allege I owe if my calculations show a different amount?

William B. Esq. :

With regard to (1) our service works on a pay per question basis. The service is paid each time you post a question, or if you are a subscriber, you may post unlimited questions through the service for the subscription price. As experts, we are compensated for each positive rating we receive. You are entitled to ask any follow up questions you have to the initial question, and I work to follow up to each question as quickly as possible. While I have a small practice which sometimes prevents an immediate response (I usually can get back to customers right away), I rarely get back to a customer in any more than 12 hours.


(2) You need to negotiate with the Board. The Collection agency has a duty to provide the Board with any settlement offers you provide to them, but this is a collection agency and not a law firm, in my experience, if your board is willing to work with you, you will not lose anything form trying to go to the Board in executive session, particularly if it is your first effort to negotiate a settlement.


(3) You may negotiate assessments that you feel are not due. You have the background of litigation, the Association must prove that it is owed these assessments prior to getting the judgment lien on your property.

William B. Esq. :

My apologies I should have been more clear with regard to your first question, you get as many follow up questions as you wish to the original question without additional charge. It is only with subsequent different questions that you will need to open a new question, with a new charge.

Customer:

An abundance of thanks, XXXXX XXXXX my best not to wear you out. The Board meets 9/12. Should I ask to get on their calendar and bring the charges with me?

William B. Esq. :

While I cannot give you specific advice through the site, I can tell you that your proposal does sound like a reasonable and sound course of action.

William B. Esq. :

You can also prepare a written proposal to the Board if you have a specific set of information that you would like them to consider in this matter as opposed to trying to discuss the issue without a specific direction.

William B. Esq. :

(The written proposal is something in addition to the appearance - you simply send it in to the board prior to the meeting).

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, I apologize, I reviewed your earlier question - I think I can safely advise you to calendar your meeting with the Board. There is no reason not to.

Customer:

An abundance of thanks! I'll get my facts together, and write an appeal to the Board for review before we meet September 12 for them to weigh and consider their decision to render one by or before 9/12, since I only have until the 20th with the Collection Agency before further actions towards a lien ensues. Many thanks for your advice. Very sound!

William B. Esq. :

Given the deadline of the 20th with the collection agency, you may want to consider drafting a letter to both the agency and to the Board asking that any action for a lien be "stayed" pending the outcome of your appeal to the Board on the 12th. (That is a very reasonable position and request, and the HOA is only losing about 13 days on their lien, your property isn't going anywhere).

William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2958
Experience: Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
William B. Esq. and 22 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our service today, it was a pleasure working with you. I did want to ensure that you were able to read my last post after you went offline regarding a request that the collection agency place your case on a stay pending the outcome of your petition to the Board in this matter. I believe it is a relatively reasonable request, and I hope it will work in your matter.

I wish you the best of luck

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