Jose Torres is 79 years old and legally blind. He faced $2,200 in homeowner association fines for weeds.
“I don't understand what they're doing. I don't understand,” Jose Torres said.
Jose Torres relies on friends to read his mail. He found out last May that the Chickasaw Trails Homeowners Association fined him $184 because his yard had more weeds than grass.
His friend, Dorothy Torres, sent the HOA a letter last May after reading the notice, explaining his disability and asking the HOA to include her on all correspondence.
She said the association attorney ignored her.
“You didn’t even make an attempt to respond to the letter and say we’re not authorized to talk to you,” Dorothy Torres said.
Eight months later, Dorothy Torres said the association’s attorney went to court claiming Jose Torres refused to mediate rules violations and he faced fines and legal fees totaling more than $2,200.
“I find that unethical, unprofessional and an abuse of seniors,” Dorothy Torres said.
The family contacted Action 9’s Todd Ulrich.
Ulrich asked local HOA attorney Barbara Stage to review all the documents. She said the association failed to follow state rules since it assessed a fine before mediation.
“You cannot include any assessment, fine, or any other financial obligation and that includes attorney fees,” Stage said.
“When you're going to mediation?” Ulrich asked.
“Yes,” Stage replied.
Ulrich contacted the association's attorney multiple times. There's been no response.
Since Jose Torres contacted us, the association did offer to lower the fees by $500.
Jose Torres said he's always been willing to meet with the HOA board, resolve this and spend money on new grass but not the inflated fines.
“You're willing to do that?” Ulrich asked.
“Of course, because it's my house,” Jose Torres said.
Court documents show the association sent Jose Torres a mediation notice, but he claims it never reached him or the friend who reads his mail.
Consumer experts say if you face any homeowner association violation notice, always respond in writing and contact board members directly to avoid runaway legal fees.
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