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socallegalwork, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 144
Experience:  Attorney and licensed real estate broker (and Certified Distressed Property Expert), specializing in real estate matters.
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In small claims court, through mediation, we agreed to pay

Customer Question

In small claims court, through mediation, we agreed to pay $5,000 to our HOA in Ca. in payments of $118 per month. We have completed making the payments and now they have sent us a letter saying they want the additional $3,000 that they say we owe them.It has been over 4 years since we went to small claims court and mediated. Is there a SOL on how long they can pursue us for money? We lost the home to forclosure in 2010.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  socallegalwork replied 1 year ago.
Hello. I believe I can assist you. When you settled the case, there should have been a written settlement agreement (or perhaps iot was stated on the record in court) wherein it set forth the payments you were to make and provided that your obligation on the debt was satisfied once the agreed payments totaling $5,000 has been made.Was there an agreement in writing? Do they say what the basis is for asking for the additional $3,000?As for the statute of limitations, the SOL for a breach of written contract (which what the HOA arrangement is) is 4 years. However, once a party sues and obtains a judgment, that judgment is good for 10 years. Was there any judgment entered (perhaps a stipulated judgment as part of the settlement? If so, was the judgment for $5,000 or $8,000?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What we have from the court is a stipulation for entry of judgement small claims. It says we owe them $5,150 to be paid in monthly installments of $116/mo with a payment of $1000 up front. There were considerable fees included in this such as 10% interest and late fees, etc. We have paid that off and now they recently sent us a letter stating that we owe them an additional $3,125.12 as a balance on our account which they couldn't ask for in small claims court because the limit is $5,000.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We are still living in the same HOA complex, however, as renters now. I feel they are targeting us because we still live here in the community and we are easy targets. My question is can they take us to small claims court again for the additional money that they didn't get the first round?
Expert:  socallegalwork replied 1 year ago.
Okay. First, I would look at the language of the settlement papers (the stipulation and anything else signed by the parties) and see if includes language expressly stating that this settlement includes all past, existing and future claims between the parties. If the language is written in such as way as to allow them (or at least not explicitly prevent them) to go after this extra $3,000, then you need to look at the SOL (which will toll from the date of breach or the last HOA payment you made- whichever is later) and see if they can still sue in light of the 4 year SOL. The one potential issue I see here is that they might argue the SOL actually tolls from your last settlement payment. However, given the context, I think this would be a difficult argument for them to make. Bot***** *****ne- I think it comes down to whether the stipulated settlement prevents them in writing from pursuing this claim and, if not, whether the SOL has run. If they pursue it in court you should consult an attorney. Because the suit might also be barred under the the principle of res judicata (basically it means that a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court may not be pursued further by the same parties). Depending on what was claimed in the small claims complaint, they might be barred from pursuing these additional damages. Good luck to you!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank-you for that information, however I am still in a quandry. Our Stipulation is 1 page and doesn't mention anything about future or past payments, only what we needed to pay monthly , the amount and when it had to be paid by. It does say "if no dismissal is filed or judgement entered by Feb 1, 2015, this case will be dismissed with prejudice". I am not sure what that means. An attorney will cost us as much as the amount they want, which is why I went online to you. Do you know if I can go to the court and find out exactly what the stipulation says? I wasn't at court that day, my husband went because I had to work so I am not exactly sure what happened. Thank you for any additional info. I am thinking maybe the HOA is trying to get any money they can, from anywhere.
Expert:  socallegalwork replied 1 year ago.
The court file is public. You should be able to go to the civil clerk court at the courthouse and ask to look at the file. The stipulation would be the most important thing you look at unless something was put on the record in court. It sounds like the stipulation does not have the kind of language I was asking about.You can hold the position that they cannot come after you for the additional money, tell them the issue has already been resolved and ask them to advise you in writing of their position/ rationale for asking for this additional money. They may be just trying to shake you down for more money.

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