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Idiots in Fla-stranger saves solder's home from dipstick HOA and their (Bleep) lawyer

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Brad Johnson, Nov 15, 2004.

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  1. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Member

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    Stranger pays bill to save reservist's home....

    Many others also offer to help an Air Force reservist who forgot to pay his annual homeowners fee.

    By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER,

    November 13, 2004

    TAMPA - The calls and e-mails started coming in early, and they flowed all day.

    Tampa Bay residents offered to help out Friday after reading a St. Petersburg Times story about a 42-year-old Riverview man who could lose his home because he forgot to pay his $200 annual homeowners association fee while deployed in Georgia for the Air Force Reserve.

    In June, the association at the Villages of Lake St. Charles filed a lien against Bernie Haithcock's $95,000 home, and association leaders this week said they would consider foreclosure.

    Several readers offered to pay off Haithcock's mounting bill - which includes late fees and hundreds of dollars in legal costs that association leaders say they racked up pursuing the lien.

    By Friday afternoon, Haithcock's pro bono attorney, Kenneth Grace, had dropped off a check for $1,148.50 to the association attorney, Elizabeth Frau of the firm Meirose & Friscia.

    The check came courtesy of Insurance Consultants & Contractors Inc., a Tampa company whose owner says he knows what life is like for a deployed military man. ICC owner Robert Hoskinson's father served eight years in the Korean War for the Air Force, and on Veterans Day he had open-heart surgery.

    "It just got under my skin that these lawyers and association people would do this to that guy," said Hoskinson. "That gentleman's signed up to protect our country, and you've got lawyers who haven't signed up for anything, trying to make him pay hundreds of dollars."

    Hoskinson added: "So I'm paying the bill, because God forbid a lawyer in this town goes hungry."

    The $1,148.50 is the amount cited in a demand letter sent to Grace by Frau on Nov. 5. Grace said Frau recently told him that Haithcock's bill now is more than $1,400, with more than $1,100 of it for the price of her time spent on the case.

    Frau did not return calls from the Times.

    "I'm beside myself today," said Haithcock, who has been at Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Ga., since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "I think this is proof that some people appreciate what we in the military are doing."

    Grace said he doesn't consider Haithcock's case closed.

    "We are paying this under protest," said Grace, who works for the Tampa firm Bush, Ross, Gardner, Warren & Rudi. "We will look into what we believe is the overbilling of attorney's fees and late fees, and we'll see if my client has any recourse there."

    Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 813 226-3373 or svansickler@sptimes.com

    _______________________________________________________

    Brad

    By the way, the contact page on their HOA web site is..
    http://www.villagesoflsc.com/contacts.htm

    And their mailing address is..
    Villages of Lake St. Charles Homeowners Association
    2908 Bay to Bay Blvd., Suite 200
    Tampa, Florida 33629
    Phone: 813-716-8436
    Fax: 813-805-2120

    And the slimeball attorney representing the HOA can be contacted here..
    Elizabeth T. Frau
    Associate
    Firm Profile: Meirose & Friscia, P.A.
    500 North Westshore Boulevard, Suite 830
    Tampa, Florida 33609
    (Hillsborough Co.)
    Telephone: 813-289-8800
    Fax: 813-281-2005
     
  2. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

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    So actually, according to this bottom-feeder Frau, it STILL isn't paid in full and she can continue to rack up fees and pursue foreclosure... Nice. Really, really nice. Anyone care to bet Frau is not merely a Dem but an activist Military-loathing Bush-hater?
     
  3. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Member

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    This is precisely why I will never live in a HOA area. That is becoming harder and harder to do where I am. You would not believe the crap the put people through. Mini socialism...

    Greg
     
  4. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Or maybe the scumbag bottom feeding lawyer is just doing her job against a scumbag bottom feeding deadbeat who has his own scumbag bottom feeding lawyer fighting to stiff a Homeowners association.

    On no, wait a minute, the lawyer defending the reservist isnt a scumbag becasue he is on the side some people think is right....hes a scumbag for you buyt not for me, yes

    Childish name calling based on newspaper reports is getting so tiresome...as is the hypocrisy and total lack of knowledge of how our system of justice works,,,,


    WildbacktogroupbuysAlaska
     
  5. Firethorn

    Firethorn Member

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    They weren't protesting the $200. They are protesting the additional $1200, mostly lawyer fees for the HOA's attempt to a:put a lien on the house, and b: forclose. Many states have limits on what you can charge for late fees. This is the equivalent of 600% interest, which is a tad excessive.

    Which would be a very difficult act, given that A: Florida is a homestead state(you can't take a person's primary residence), and B: The Soldiers' and Sailors' relief act of 1940.

    It wouldn't have made the news if the soldier got home and found that he owed $400 ($200 fee, $50/month late fee). It was also a human interest piece, what with strangers donating so he could keep his house.
     
  6. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    Wild, perhaps you missed the "pro bono" reference, indicating that the low-life, scumbag, bottom-feeding attorney representing the homeowner is working for free.

    Having been on a condominium association board for a couple of years, during which we had to pursue several foreclosures, I am mystified as to how a $200 association fee could possibly have escalated to $1400 in four months. If you had driven up and asked me, I would have said it was impossible.
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Member

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    .. or maybe I took the time to do some background research before posting the article and making comments. You might want to do the same before embarassing yourself further.

    Brad

    p.s. - being childish and hypocritical has made me tired. I'm going home to wallow in my ignorance of the justice system.
     
  8. John Hicks

    John Hicks Member

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    In defense of HOA's, I'm on my board -- specifically there to NOT legislate, and not to let others get away with it -- but in some cases, they are a necessary evil. We have a lot of properties that are rented and would rot with 5x the number of legal occupants had we not stepped in. It's town-housing too, so one neighbor can easily water/smoke/fire damage the others through negligence.

    But I will never let them take someone's house over some late fees. Heck, we had some people with almost 2k in late fees and just kept sending them a bill. They could not sell their house without paying the HOA, but nobody was going to foreclose.

    Plus, our lawyers work for a whole lot less than that. Fees for a $200 late payment would be about $50 with our lawyer. It amounts to them sending a nasty certified letter.

    So to me, it really does sound like a heartless HOA board coupled with a unscrupulous attorney. Hopefully karma will catch up to them.

    jh
     
  9. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Right on..not only does the newspaper say its true...so do you..Im convinced!

    Im not the one using terms like scumbag am it....

    Bummer, was sort of hoping you would be trying to learn instead of going home to wallow

    WildbottomfeederAlaska
     
  10. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    Why didn't this reservist just pay his annual association dues like he was contractually obligated to do????

    I mean for crying out loud, Warner Robbins is only about 5 hours drive from Tampa, its not like he was in Fallujah.

    We actually have mail here in Georgia, and I hear you can actually have it forwarded from one address to another.
     
  11. GigaBuist

    GigaBuist Member

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    Good point. I'm wondering if he was just hoping it would slide until he could get back to his regular job. For all we know his regular income could been cut in half by getting called up and he'd have been stretched thing as it was trying to make house and car payments or what have you.

    Seems like an awfully nasty thing to do somebody that's basically your neighbor.
     
  12. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

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    You're in fine form today, Wild. Please, DO continue... :rolleyes: Oh, BTW, you never did comment on the fact you seem to have missed the pro-bono part...or is that simply not important?
     
  13. SteveS

    SteveS Member

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    I wonder if there is more to this story than we are being told. I served on my HOA board and can say that there are definately some good and bad elements. I wonder how it got to this point. Did the HOA make an attempt to contact him at his current address and tell him that he owed the money? If so, did he just figure he shoudln't have to pay it, or was he unaware? I have plenty of friends that are in the reserves and are serving overseas and they have managed to make arrangments to fufill all their family and financial obligations.
     
  14. davec

    davec Member

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    Being in the military means you don't have to pay your bills on time?
     
  15. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

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    No, but sometimes it does mean you can't. And when MOST of the "bill" is attorney fees which appear to be racking up almost daily(between the fifth and the 11th or 12th it appears the sum of the fees increased $300+, according to Frau) it would become increasingly difficult to handle for someone far removed from the scene.
     
  16. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

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    Being in the military means one is exempt from all sorts of legal obligations.

    However, as the former Prez of our HOA, I can say that we never threatened foreclosure and waived the penalties on every single person once rather signifcant bills (stretching over years) were paid. The other option was to merely collect when the house was sold.

    Having been there, I can say that HOAs are almost pure eeevil.

    Rick
     
  17. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

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    Ok, you're a good person to ask then: What IS the purpose of an HOA if not to control personal property rights? We don't have any around here but I have friends in Indy who have lived under such things and they have the same opinion without exception: Almost pure evil. So if it's that bad how do these things get going? Does it hinge on just a few determined busy-bodies, or a lot of naive folks?
     
  18. Sindawe

    Sindawe Member

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    My take on HOAs

    I server on the Board of my HOA (condo style townhome development). Our primary job is to manage the budget so that things like landscaping, snow removal, water and the like are paid for. Additionally, we have begun working to build up the Association's reserve fund so that sufficient money is available to replace the roofs in 10-15 years, paint the buildings on a rotating schedule and do unforseen repairs to the structures when they come up.

    There have been, and continue to be, some folks on the Board who feel its there job to enforce homogeneity of the development by preventing things like the homeowners putting up gargoyles (my choice :evil:) or putting a different kind of front door on their place. This is where bad HOAs get started, with control freaks who get a bit of power. We do have some rules, like window ACs only allowed from May to October, and no windows covered in aluminum foil (I did that several years ago, not to keep the mind control rays out, but keep the light out when I worked on grave shift, guess some folks found it tacky). As a Board member, I try to keep that kind of stuff from getting out of hand, and make sure the HOA actually enforces the rules it sets up, so we don't make a bunch of rules that are generally ignored, then used to bludgeon those we do not like.

    So when an HOA concerns itself with running and maintaining property held in common (like improving the landscaping), this are kosher. Its when HOAs turn into petty fiefdoms with silly rules mandating the garbage cans be THIS color and not THAT color, drapes have to be lace and not sheer, that things get bad.
     
  19. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

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    Around here, HOAs get started by the developer. In our case, Estes Homes. The developer starts the HOA before any home is bought. The purpose is to protect the investment of the developer until it can sell every last property and then high-tail it out of there.

    The HOA is left, along with the by-laws which make it exceedingly difficult to change. 75% of all homeowners (we have 225 homes in our HOA) have to vote. So, if we want to change something, we have to get proxy votes for 169 people. Kind of like amending the US Consitutiton. They designed the HOA by-laws (CC&Rs) to be difficult to change.

    A few years ago, a rather energized group of wives found that their husbands' 3/4-ton trucks were banned by the original CC&Rs. We had just found out about it. Turns out that when the neighborhood was built, back in 1990, there were lots of Ford F150s and Chevey C1500s but F250s and C2500 were rare. Now they had become a fashion statement.

    Except... these were work trucks, carpenter, painting, plumbing, pest control, cable, etc.

    Their livelihoods depended on it. They went door to door for weeks and got the necessary proxies. Ten+ people mailed me there proxies without knowing which way I would vote.

    Rick
     
  20. davec

    davec Member

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    He was stationed in GEORGIA.

    While Georgia isint quite Flordia, its a far cry from the side of a moutain in middleofnowhereistan.
     
  21. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

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    OK, so your HOA serves you with a $200 bill. You ignore it because you have more pressing things on your mind and figure it is something you can pick up when you get home. let's face it, this is NOT the sort of bill one would logically consider high-priority. Or perhaps, as the article clearly states, he simply forgot it, again because it isn't a high priority item. Ever forget to pay something? I have.

    Next time you hear about it it's $110 dollars and an impending repo. Ever found $1200 dollars in lawyer fees added to what you forgot, with an attempt to repo your house? I haven't been there. Wouldn't bother me that much, since I can deal with that figure without much sweat. OTOH I do believe I would get a lawyer for reasons mentioned above: Overbilling and unethical practices.

    So yeah, if you're determined to diss this guy I suppose you can. OTOH I'm not certain why you would be since even if we accept he should have paid it on time and was an inept clod for forgetting it/delaying it that still does not justify the overbilling, or the threat of foreclosure. At that point this goes from poor finance handling to...I'm not sure what you'd call it, other than gross stupidity on the part of the HOA.
     
  22. SteelyDan

    SteelyDan Member

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    My random thoughts.

    1. You just don't even consider foreclosing on a guy's home for a $200 HOA deficiency. If the thought even crosses your mind, you need to reevaluate your priorities. This may be even more true when the guy is an out-of-state reservist.

    2. There is no shortage of HOAs that fall victim to the same malady that seems to infect city council members: a little bit of power makes them believe they are destined to decide the fate of others, for the benefit of the greater public good.

    3. The lawyer's fees are not necessarily out of line. It may well take several hours to wade through all of the HOA documents (they're often close to an inch thick and go back years) and prepare and file the lien and whatever else is required under state law.
     
  23. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

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    Considering the rate that the "legal fees" appear to by building up I half expect that the "vig" is going to be collect by slick-haired individuals with baseball bats. He would have been better off getting a loan for $200 from the shadiest dude he could find.

    Of course the easiest solution would have been for the guy to pay his $200 HOA fee in the first place. I'm at a complete loss on why he didnt just do that.
     
  24. crucible

    crucible Member

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    The fact that an organization can legally force someone to lose thier $95K home for a $200 debt is rediculous and morally wrong.

    Cruc
     
  25. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

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    I agree but, the counter argument is that a man who skips out an $200 that he agreed to pay is ALSO morally wrong. In fact what the soldier did was the primary act and what the HOA did was a response. Both of them are wrong but, to quote the schoolyard mantra "he started it".
     
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