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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 114029
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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The son of a home owner on our privat road is claiming to be

Customer Question

The son of a home owner on our privat road is claiming to be the president of our road association to attempt to collect road dues he claims were not paid by another property owner. He sent that party a threatening letter demanding over $1000. The glitch is that he demands they pay it to me, the association Treasurer. The accused party owes the association nothing. How do I stop the disgruntled "son" from threatening other home owners?
BTW, his irrational behavior is probably the result of a civil suit filed by the road association for his elderly mother's delinquent back dues.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

Hello! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney with more than 18 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help

Also, if you would like to chat on the phone, let me know and I can make that happen.

Can you tell me more about this "road association"...what is that? Do all the homes in the area have deed restrictions that create a road association ? Or is this part of a larger home owners association?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Our road association is actually not an "association", nor is it registered with the county. It is an informal maintenance group that collects annual dues($125/yr.) to cover the costs of maintaining the private road as required by CA Civil Code 845. We are in a rural, unincorporated area, & our road maintenance group was formed by the original home owners who paid to have the road paved in 1992. CA Civil Code does not require the road maintenance group to be formal or registered, but it requires property owners who "use" the private road to maintain the road. Last year I contacted a county attorney to ask if owners of vacant properties should pay into the "group". The attorney's opinion was that since there were no buildings or homes, and the owners did not "use" the road, they did not have to pay for "maintenance". The majority of our home owners agree, but the "son" was outraged.
The "son" was also outraged that after 4 years of delinquent dues & 2 ignored Letters of Demand, I, as the sole officer of our road group, filed a legal complaint in Small claims Court to recover the dues & associated costs. The other 21 property owners have always paid, & we just completed $14,750.00 of sorely needed road work for which the "son" paid zero.
Note: The "son" says he has a Power of Attorney to handle his elderly mother's affairs.
I believe the "son" wrote the owner of the vacant property (my son & his wife) claiming to be the road group Manager as an act of revenge for having his mother served a summons to appear in court. He demanded that the vacant owner pay alleged back dues, penalties, & late fees- over $1000. BTW, the vacant property is not even on our road. I am currently the only officer of the group, though I just asked another property owner to be acting Manager until we can organize a meeting.
I have had 6 property owners tell me I am doing an excellent job that no one else will do. Everyone I talked to was thankful to have the pot holes fixed and the steep hill resealed.
I am angry because the "son" of the property owner lied about being an officer in our group to demand that the vacant land owner pay the outrageous amount to me- the Treasurer- when I have repeatedly told him that vacant owners do not pay. Could this be considered attempted extortion and/or fraud, so I could file a criminal complaint with the Sheriff's Dept.?
The "son" said he intended to sue the vacant property owners and put a lien on their property. And, he is crazy enough to do just that. He has a history of writing incoherent letters to all the property owners to tell them how I have misused the moneys they have paid, and even said that I probably paid my son's dues and then gave him the money back! This guy is not firing on all four, and he is doing his best to make my life miserable, which I could handle until he started harassing my son.
Our court date is not until 3/1/2016, and the "son" is set to represent his mother's property.
He will undoubtedly file a small claims case against my son and force him to miss work to go to court. This is what I would like to stop if at all possible, but I don't know what to do.
NO, the homes do not have any deed restrictions for private road maintenance. There is no Home Owners Association. Most loan companies will not approve a loan for new owners without a letter from me confirming that we do have a road maintenance group. When homes are sold, the Title Company pays road dues through escrow. Precedent has always favored the road group, registered or not, because CA law requires all home owners must pay to maintain their private road in good repair for OES, fire protection, law enforcement, and ambulance service.
Sorry to be so long winded, I would have called, but the static and noise on my phone line is terrible & is not scheduled to be fixed until 12/18/15 due to storm damage.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Today I got a notice that I missed delivery of a certified letter & need to pick it up at the post office in town, 17 mi. away. It is undoubtedly a letter of demand from the "son" telling me he is going to sue me- this is what he told the Process Server he was going to do. I do not plan to go get the letter, he'll sue me anyway.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR, as your previous contributor had to leave.
You have a couple of options here. The first, and cheapest, is to send a letter to each and every homeowner (now you sent the son a cease and desist letter) to tell them that any letter they receive from the son's name is ***** ***** disregarded as he has no authority to make any demands regarding the roads and he is not an officer of any informal association you have. Tell them if they receive such letters indicating they should pay you any funds, to forward them to you (the reason for this is to build a harassment case against the son).
If he sends more letters and ignores your cease and desist letter, then you can personally sue him for harassment and get a court injunction preventing him from continuing to do so and also money damages for his harassment. It is harassment to you as well as those he sends letters to (it would be up to them to sue him separately). It is harassment towards you because he is telling people to send you money they do not owe, so it serves no purposes other than to annoy or harass you.
If he stops in response to your C&D letter, then no other action is available. However, if he continues, then you have the letters you sent to everyone and you have your case built to sue him for harassment in court and seek damages and an injunction.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I actually already sent letters to all the people he listed as "delinquent" payers to warn them that he might contact them and demand money, so I guess I will just wait to see if he persists in his behavior. So far, my son is the only one he is threatening.
What is the point of suing him for harassment if I have no monetary damages to sue for? I was hoping to be able to file a criminal complaint for attempted extortion & harassment, as that is the only thing that will get his attention. Is that out of the question?
Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If he does it again, you sue for harassment to obtain a court injunction against him. It does not rise to the level of criminal. It is not extortion because he is not seeking the money for himself by threatening illegal actions (it is close here, but the fact nobody really finds him credible and he is just telling them to pay and not threatening with unlawful actions is not quite there yet).
If he is threatening illegal acts against owners in exchange for money, then it could be an extortion case the DA may consider. Otherwise taking him to civil court and getting the injunction is what you would need to do and if he violates the injunction then the court will jail him for doing so.