a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a little more of …

Just another WordPress.com site

Neighbor vs. neighbor as homeowner fights get ugly

Via: AP

‘As more are unable to pay homeowners’ fees, associations pit neighbor against neighbor’

~

The Inlet House condo complex in Fort Pierce, Fla., was once the kind of place the 55-and-older set aspired to. It was affordable. The pool and clubhouse were tidy, the lawns freshly snipped. Residents, push-carts in tow, walked to the beach, the bank, the beauty parlor, the cinema and the supermarket. In post-crash America, this was a dreamy little spot. Especially on a fixed income.

But that was Inlet House BEFORE:

– the rats started chewing through the toilet seats in vacant units and sewage started seeping from the ceiling.

– condos that were worth $79,000 four years ago sold for as little as $3,000.

– the homeowners’ association levied $6,000 assessments on everyone — and then foreclosed on seniors who couldn’t pay the association bill, even if they didn’t owe the bank a dime.

Normally, it’s the bankers who go after delinquent homeowners. But in communities governed by the mighty homeowners’ association, as the sour economy leaves more people unable to pay their fees, it’s neighbor versus neighbor.

” What the board is doing is trying to foreclose on people to force people out the door,” says Mike Silvestri, 75, who stopped paying his dues at Inlet House in protest over what he considers unnecessary and unaffordable assessments.

He and others say there were cheaper ways to deal with the rat infestation and leaky sewage that led the board to order up a costly plumbing overhaul. “They are bamboozling old people. I’m old, but I’m not senile,” he says.

~

To combat the rise in delinquencies, boards are switching off utilities, garnishing income and axing cable. They are yanking pool passes and banning the billiard room. And, in the most extreme cases, they are foreclosing.

The treacherous part is that homeowners’ associations are acting like a local government without restraints, and they have this extraordinary power,” says Marjorie Murray, a lawyer and founder of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law.

Today, one in five U.S. homeowners is subject to the will of the homeowners’ association, whose boards oversee 24.4 million homes. More than 80 percent of newly constructed homes in the U.S are in association communities.

And of the nation’s 300,000 homeowners’ associations, more than 50 percent now face “serious financial problems,” according to a September survey by the Community Association Institute.

An October survey found that 65 percent of homeowners’ associations have delinquency rates higher than 5 percent, up from 19 percent of associations in 2005.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Neighbor-vs-neighbor-as-apf-2524543580.html?x=0

.

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment