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    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #1

    Mar 5, 2017, 12:56 PM
    Received a letter from Collection Agency related to Home Owner's Association
    In July 2013, I bought a house in Minnesota. I was told when I purchased the house that there was a home owner's association and that the fees were $120 per year. Since then, I have received invoices from the home owner's association and I paid them promptly.

    Yesterday, I received two letters from a collection agency claiming that I owe $886.15 for the period of January 2014 to May 2015 and that I owe $636.40 for the period of January 2016 to January 2017.

    I was genuinely confused by these letters, as I thought that I had been paying my HOA fees promptly. I contacted a neighbor who is on the HOA board and he confirmed that my account is currently paid-in-full.

    This neighbor then revealed that there is a second homeowner's association that includes a fee of $60 per year. I have never heard of this second homeowner's association (i.e. I did not recognize its name when I was told of it) and I have never received an invoice from them. Indeed, the letters from the collection agency are literally the first communication that I have received from this second homeowner's agency.

    After doing some investigating on the internet, I have learned that I should send the collection agency a debt validation letter within 30 days. I will definitely do this.

    My remaining questions involve the process of disputing the claim of the debt. I am totally happy to make the HOA payments... I am someone who takes great pride in paying his bills. However, I would like to dispute all of the additional charges (assuming four years of HOA charges: 4 x $60 = $240... ergo, the "additional charges" = $1282.55).

    Is the fact that the HOA never sent me an invoice or late payment notice a LEGAL reason to dispute the claim?
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
    Home Repair & Remodeling Expert
     
    #2

    Mar 5, 2017, 03:01 PM
    You need to review he closing documents and forms you signed at closing. HOA agreements must be there for both for you to be a member. What did your neighbor say about the second HOA, what is its duty?
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #3

    Mar 5, 2017, 03:02 PM
    I believe that the law states that bills have to be sent to the last known address a minimum of every 3 months.
    There seems to be a mighty leap across a void here. Your neighbor 'then revealed that there is a second homeowner's association that includes a fee of $60 per year?'
    Did you get any kind of explanation from this board member as to why you never knew about it, and why you never got a bill?
    Can you enlighten us a little about that?
    Going to collection usually doesn't leave much room for chit chat. They bought the debt for pennies on the dollar, and just want your money.
    You might want to be proactive and sue the HOA in small claims for being remiss, but mainly for ruining your credit.
    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #4

    Mar 5, 2017, 03:44 PM
    There seems to be a mighty leap across a void here. Your neighbor 'then revealed that there is a second homeowner's association that includes a fee of $60 per year?'
    Did you get any kind of explanation from this board member as to why you never knew about it, and why you never got a bill?
    Can you enlighten us a little about that?
    The neighbor is a member of the board of the association where I actually pay the dues, so he has no idea why I have never received a bill.

    I spoke to other neighbors today (it's a nice day out... Minnesotans have started to emerge from winter hibernation). All of them have received invoices from this second association.

    I have not spoken to either the collection agency or the association yet. I will do that tomorrow, presumably.

    What did your neighbor say about the second HOA, what is its duty?
    He didn't know for sure. There are some artificial ponds in the neighborhood... he thought that it had something to do with that.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #5

    Mar 5, 2017, 08:52 PM
    Ok, first, We don't know if this collection agency purchased the debt or not. I would actually doubt that they did. I suspect the second HOA contracted with them to collect the debt. Second, yes you need to contact them and ask for a verification of the debt. Ask them to prove a) that this HOA is entitled to collect these fees and want they are for, b) to prove you have been invoiced for this debt and c) that they have the right to collect on this debt. Third, you need to review your closing documents to see if there was any mention of this second HOA.

    If it turns out that you do owe these fees, I would offer to settle for the fees without any interest charges. If they refuse, tell them to sue you and you will counter sue since you were never informed or invoiced for this fee.
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #6

    Mar 6, 2017, 07:25 PM
    Agree, and it the meantime, do not call or write to the agency regarding any debt, that would be considered an acknowledgement. Do you know where either HOA posts the agendas for their meeting? All meetings must be posted where all members cand see them. If there is a second HOA you will see where and when they meet.
    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #7

    Mar 7, 2017, 04:17 PM
    I suspect the second HOA contracted with them to collect the debt. Second, yes you need to contact them and ask for a verification of the debt. Ask them to prove a) that this HOA is entitled to collect these fees and want they are for, b) to prove you have been invoiced for this debt and c) that they have the right to collect on this debt. Third, you need to review your closing documents to see if there was any mention of this second HOA.
    I have spoken to both the Collection Agency as well as the HOA. I will send the Collection Agency a validation letter soon (i.e. legally (stated in the letter), I have 30 days to do this... I might as well take my time).

    When I spoke to the Collection Agency, the person verbally acknowledged that I have never received an invoice. He claimed that he has spoken to an attorney who claims that is irrelevant as far as the amount of debt that I owe (i.e. including late fees, etc).

    When I spoke to the HOA (actually, the HOA is run by a management company), I was told that my account is currently paid in full and that my issue with the Collection Agency is "out of our hands." This suggests to me, although it has not been explicitly stated, that my debt was sold to the Collection Agency. I am trying to get more information from the HOA/Management Company.

    In speaking to the HOA/Management Company, they acknowledged (again, verbally) that I never received an invoice. They claim that they didn't know my name, so they couldn't send me an invoice (although, they had my address... so a letter sent to "Resident" would have been sufficient. Further, public records are easy to obtain revealing that I am the owner of this house).

    Anyway, my second part of the plan is to offer to pay the actual HOA fees but not any of the interest/late charges, as suggested. I know that a lot of people hate HOAs and they try to avoid paying their dues, but I am not that type of person. I would have paid these HOA fees on time if I had received an invoice.
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
    current pert
     
    #8

    Mar 7, 2017, 05:34 PM
    I highly doubt that the collection agency EVER talked to a lawyer!
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #9

    Mar 7, 2017, 05:52 PM
    Which HOA said you were paid in full? And which HOA said it was out of their hands. If you are speaking to the main one that you have been paying they have nothing to do with it.
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #10

    Mar 7, 2017, 07:06 PM
    I will repeat, do not send an acknowledgement letter. From what you have said so far you have no proof you actually owe anyone money. Can you answer te questions I asked earlier about where the HOA post their agendas and minutes.
    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #11

    Mar 7, 2017, 07:40 PM
    Which HOA said you were paid in full? And which HOA said it was out of their hands.
    I am now paid in full according to both HOAs. I have paid, on time, the bills to the first HOA... and thus it's correct that my account is paid in full.

    The second HOA, which I found out about on Saturday, also claims that my account is now paid in full. I interpret that to mean that someone bought that debt (i.e. the debt collector) and thus I am technically square with the second HOA too. However, I now owe the debt collector the debt. I think.

    It's difficult to get answers out of anyone. The second HOA (i.e. the newly discovered one) is run by a management company and they clearly don't put a lot of effort into it.

    Can you answer te questions I asked earlier about where the HOA post their agendas and minutes.
    No, I can't. I just found out their name today. I have no idea of where they meet, when they meet, etc.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #12

    Mar 7, 2017, 07:52 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by frazwood View Post
    The second HOA, which I found out about on Saturday, also claims that my account is now paid in full. I interpret that to mean that someone bought that debt (i.e. the debt collector) and thus I am technically square with the second HOA too. .
    That's not the way it works. Before a debt holder can sell a debt, then need to claim it as a loss ( a charge off). Selling the debt doesn't pay off the debt and it would also end the debt holder's claim against you. You need to get a letter from the second HOA that a) your account is current and up to date and b) that they have not authorized anyone else to collect on the debt.

    If the second HOA is telling you that your account is up to date, I suspect the letter from the collection agency is a scam.
    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #13

    Mar 8, 2017, 10:04 AM
    You need to get a letter from the second HOA that a) your account is current and up to date and b) that they have not authorized anyone else to collect on the debt.

    If the second HOA is telling you that your account is up to date, I suspect the letter from the collection agency is a scam.
    I am now pretty certain that this is NOT a scam. The HOA is real and everyone else in my neighborhood pays dues.

    In reviewing my closing documents, the HOA is not mentioned anywhere. I have my neighbor's closing documents and the HOA is mentioned prominently. I am concluding that either my Title Company or the previous seller screwed up. I am leaning towards the previous seller not disclosing the HOA, because they were a bank and exceptionally difficult to work with.

    An implicit problem is that both the HOA and the collection agency are clearly assuming that I am lying when I tell them that I have no idea that the HOA existed. They keep saying things like "You should have sent us a copy of your warranty deed after closing." But, how am I supposed to know of the existence of the HOA when it is never communicated to me? Similarly, they assume that I was told of the HOA at closing, but I can demonstrate this by showing the closing documents, which delineate one of the HOAs... but not the other (i.e. the one that wants me to pay them $1500).

    I am trying to get a letter from the HOA updating me on the status of my account as well as whether they have authorized anyone else to collect the debt. They are not particularly responsive.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #14

    Mar 8, 2017, 10:23 AM
    This is one of those cases where it might be better to tell them to take you to court. I would put the money for the dues into a separate account so you can show the court you have the money to pay, but that you are disputing what you owe.

    A possible counter suit against the HOA and the seller for not disclosing the fees.
    frazwood's Avatar
    frazwood Posts: 128, Reputation: 2
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    #15

    Mar 8, 2017, 06:31 PM
    This is one of those cases where it might be better to tell them to take you to court.
    I am thinking similarly. I'll either do that or I will simply pay it. Ugh. This sucks.
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #16

    Mar 9, 2017, 03:08 PM
    For all you know this could be a scam. Not one item of proof of debt has been presented to you and yet you are considering paying, maybe that's what they w go after with everyone.
    mr.yet's Avatar
    mr.yet Posts: 1,725, Reputation: 176
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    #17

    Apr 27, 2017, 03:46 PM
    Review your closing Documents when you purchase the property, They must list the HOA in them, If not contact the Title insurance company see if they missed something.
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,687, Reputation: 1438
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    #18

    Apr 28, 2017, 02:51 PM
    AT this time I recomend that you get a copy of what has been filed on your property. In some states HOA's used to blanket file against homeowners but in more recent years that practice is no longer allowed. Another thing that strikes me as odd is you keep stating 2 HOA's. There should never be a case of 2 HOA's. Mentioning the Management company as a source is different then them being an actual HOA.

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