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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years experience corporate, litigation, international
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I went through a nasty divorce. My ex was living in the house

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I went through a nasty divorce. My ex was living in the house at the time, I was not (June 2009- July 2010). I was given the house in our divorce, final 8/3/10. My ex did not pay our HOA fee of $125 (Due by Jan. 1st , 2010) for 2010. The HOA atty filed a lien on the property. As soon as I found out this had happened, by finding a letter from atty. I sent the HOA $125.
I called to explain the situation, and ask forgiveness. They refused to work with me. We have been emailing back and forth (the paralegal) for a few months. I have asked for itemized, dated bills that justify the $1,185 they are requesting. They sent bills with no dates and billing of what appears to be in triplicate. They are also billing at the rate of $250 for clerical things, filing papers, copies, mailing letters. Is that legal? I've also asked the paralegal what her hourly rate is, but she will not respond.

They are now threatening to foreclose on the lien. Can they do this? and does that
mean they can take my house for this ridiculous amount? Please advise.
The HOH does have the right to foreclose on its lien for the nonpayment of Association dues. However, you have every right to challenge their calculation of fees and other charges they made with respect to the dues. If I understand this dues were $125 and with late fees and other charges that grown $1185. In you have every right to challenge. This seems exorbitant. The way you challenge it is disputing their decision in the local court. In that court you can challenge not only the amount of any legal fees you be entitled to discovery to determine how those fees were developed and what other charges were assessed.

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I understand you say they do not have a right to foreclose for this reason. However, if they choose to proceed based on this basis, doesn't foreclosing on the claim of lien mean they are trying to take my home for payment of this supposed debt?

 

You also state I should take this to a local court. What exactly does that mean? How would that be possible to accomplish in the ten days they have given me to pay in full?

At this point they are making a demand for payment based on what they claim is owed. You are disputing what they claim is owed. Rather than waiting for them to start a legal proceeding to foreclose on their lien you would go to the local court to have the court declare that you do not owe the amount claimed and to challenge how they calculated the amount charged. In that court proceeding you'd be entitled to get discovery of whatever legal bills they have that support their legal charges, the propriety of the rates they're charging for non lawyers particularly and things of that nature. By taking this action you take the initiative and also get to develop all the information you need to challenge they are charges. If you wait for them to foreclose on their lien you are in the preceding that is much more limited in scope and you are on the defensive.

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
So, foreclosing on the lien does mean taking the property (forcing me to sell it), for the amount owed? As compared to a judgement or something ordered for payment?

Foreclosing on the lien does mean that they will sell it for their fees. You want to challenge the fees they are claiming but if you do nothing they will start a foreclosure proceeding based on their lien.

 

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

To take it to a local court, I go to the county courthouse and say I want a what .....?

Do I need paperwork to support this at that moment? If yes, what types of things?

You need to file a complaint. If you go to the county court they should have a library. Ask the librarian for a pleading form book. Look for a declaratory judgment complaint. What you are asking the court for is to declare what you think you owe the HOA and that what they are charging is wrong. You explain what you want in your own words. You will also need a summons which you will get from the clerk once you file the complaint so you can serve the summons and complaint in the HOA.

 

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Once a complaint is filed, does that stop their ability to proceed on the foreclosure of my property?

Yes it does because the basis of any foreclosure, which is the underlying debt is disputed. Be sure to pick a low enough debt number so that you can say in the complaint that you are prepared to pay immediately the amount you consider due.

 

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you
You are welcome. Please accept the answer as that is how we are compensated.
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