Cape Coral community fights rising fees linked to neighbor's foreclosures

Article Courtesy of Wink News

By Jeremiah Jacobsen

Published December 18, 2008


CAPE CORAL, Fla. - People living in the Coral Lakes community say they can't afford to foot the bill for foreclosures in the homes next door.

Homeowners say they were recently hit with a $600 special assessment on their association dues. Tuesday night, they confronted the developer, Engle Homes, and its majority members on the Homeowner's Association board.

"Now a $650 assessment, they're calling it, gave us 2 weeks to pay it, by Dec 31st, or our amenities are shut off," said resident Kelly Weeks.

"This community, just like several others in southwest Florida, has a high foreclosure rate," said Jay Coughlin, VP of Engle Homes, and President of the Homeowner's Association.

Developer Engle homes, in bankruptcy reorganization themselves, say the additional fees are necessary to get the association out of debt, created in part by foreclosures leaving dozens of homes vacant, and without their share of dues coming in.

Engle says they've contributed too: $500,000 over the past two years.

"Its tough times we're all in it together, we're contributing more than we're required to do, we're doing the best we can to keep costs down," Coughlin said.

In fact Engle Homes says they hope to be able to refund some of the additional fees next year if the association can avoid further debt.

But homeowners say with times so tight, they're not sure how much longer they can pay for it.

"It's a wonderful place to live and I don't want to leave here, but if these fees keep happening, I won't have a choice, like everyone else," Weeks said. "People are actually afraid they are going to lose their homes."

The developer did say they'd be willing to turn over majority control of the association board to the homeowners, who would then become responsible for the budget.