Even the CBS News Magazine "Inside Edition"
reported about it. The St.Petersburg Times run a full story under the headline:"
Board refuses to reverse foreclosure".
What does it take to make Florida Legislators
realize that there is a serious flaw in the system?
The actual story is full of human tragedy and finally - neighborly help.
A family moved into the deed restricted
community "Lake St.George", Tampa, Florida.
Nice environment, good neighborhood?
Everything went great, until tragedy struck.
The baby-girl of the family became seriously ill and the family, stricken
with these problems, didn't take care of a problem the board of their homeowners
association considered seriously enough to finally foreclose on their home.
The family had just put a new roof on
their home, but didn't have the finances available to pay for the repainting
of the house. The association board wrote a letter that the chimney neded
a new paint job. The father responded that since he just lost his job he
couldn't take care of this problem just right now, but would take care
of it as soon as possible. That wasn't enough for the board, which considered
this response unacceptable and hired a painter to do the job - without
knowledge of the homeowner! While the family was out to make funeral arrangements
for the baby-girl the painter entered the property and painted the chimney.
Cost : $ 125.00 .
The demand letters from the board were
left unanswered. The family was in no position, financially and emotionally,
to pay this bill. The board put a lien on the home. The family, still involved
in their grief about their baby-girl, failed to respond to those letters
and their house was sold at an auction.
Shrewd investors bought the home for $
1,200 . They offered the family to buy their house back at a price
of $ 5,000, and, when they heard that there was a pending malpractice law
suit, demanded an additional $ 5,000.
The following investigation showed, that
the HOA attorney, interviewed by "Inside Edition" had a long list of delinquent
homeowners, mostly small amounts owed, but after adding attorney's fees,
the demands mushroomed to over $ 1,000 in most cases. And the family was
not the first one to become homeless in this neighborhood. Despite the
fact that the attorney stated that reasonable suggestions by the homeowners
to settle the debts were accepted, other homeowners in similar situations
found the attorney unwilling to settle for reasonable installment payments.
But, the story had a happy ending, if you
can still call it this?
The neighbors went up in arms, an attorney
was found to help the family in this desperate situation and the newsmedias
reporting did their fair share of helping the situation. The home was bought
back from the shrewd investors for $ 3,000 - still a good return for their
$ 1,200 investment - and at the next election the whole board was voted
out of office. The newly elected board vowed to change this unneighborly
way of doing business and hired a new attorney to take care of their problems.
Does it have to come that far as we heard
in this story? Shouldn't citizens be protected by law against these ruthless
Watching the tape of the "Inside Edition"
show is definetly a lesson about neighborly conduct and the fact that
life in a homeowners' association is not only nice environment and great
living as advertised in the brochures.
Even good communities are only: "One
election away from disaster!"
And the existing laws are only protecting
ruthless boards, attorneys and management companies, definitely not the
citizens and homeowners!
Read about a similar human