Poinciana residents head to court

Article Courtesy of The Osceola News-Gazette

By Ken Jackson  

Published February 6, 2017


Three Poinciana residents named in a lawsuit against their homeowner’s association will have their day in court Friday — they hope.

In the complaint, the third one the Polk County court asked to be drafted, residents Peter Jolly, Victor Destremps and Annette Brown are taking on the Association of Poinciana Villages (the HOA), AV Homes (the developer) and the Village One Association (a sub-organization that represents APV in a few neighborhoods).

Among the claims, they allege three Village One board members, acting on behalf of Avatar, held a meeting to act without advertising it and removed Jolly, then Village One president, and his vice president from the village’s board of officers (as president, Jolly represented Village One on the APV Master Board).

“APV, in conjunction with Avatar and the Board of Village One, purposefully manipulated the placement of Directors of the Board and other individual boards … to maintain control of the APV and all individual Village Boards, intentionally silencing its member’s voices,” a count in the complaint reads.

“They want their community back,” said Keith Laytham, a spokesperson for Friends of Poinciana Villages. “It’s supposed to be run by its residents, not corporations (Avatar) or investors from Canada.”

They also allege APV, through the Village One association, billed residents of one subdivision, Cypress Woods, for maintenance costs that should have been covered by the general APV HOA assessment.

The complaint addresses residents’ major issue: APV, through its servicer, First Service Residential, has inflated the past-due balances of Poinciana homeowners with late and legal fees in order to foreclose on properties and acquire debt and property they can sell.

Laytham said the case may not be heard in Bartow (it’s being heard in Polk because the APV offices are in Polk), tomorrow — it was originally filed in 2015.
“(APV) keeps coming up with reasons why is should be dismissed, and throws up roadblocks to keep the case out of court,” he said. “The HOA has more resources. Our pockets are only so big.”

Laytham said that the homeowners, who’s only recourse is to sue, have already spent $50,000 and the case hasn’t been heard by a judge yet.

It was originally filed by FOPV, but APV’s attorneys claimed it had to be filed by individuals, slowing down the process.

State Rep. John Cortes (D-Kissimmee) tried to file a bill in the Legislature last year to provide homeowners some HOA reform, but it never reached a vote. He said recently he’s trying again, with watered-down language to at least maintain a case like this must first go through mediation before ending up in court.