How do I dispute an Hoa fee? Do I pay the fee first then take them to a small claim court or a civil court?

Asked by Nancy_le66, , Tue Oct 1, 2013

My Hoa sent me bill for $1,250 for paint dumping violation. I didnt dump any paint. I called them and they said it happened 6 months ago and they have sent out 2 letters to notify me. I never received those letters because they wrote the wrong zip code on there. I had 2 meetings with the board already. They showed me some pictures of the paint in my drain pipe and gutters and said the paint spread to 5 other houses. I took those pics and had 2 different companies estimate and both came back at around $300. The invoice of $1250 from the contractor that they claimed to have cleaned the paint looks fake. The address of the business was mispelled. The building was empty when I went there. What should I do? Do I take this to a small claims court or civil court?

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Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Oct 1, 2013
Neither. Either you validate the $1250 bid, or, as Ingrid says, you get an attorney.

HOA directors are volunteers, often poorly trained. I think we have to cut them some slack.

Your originating documents explain the process for fining members, and I think that having two meetings with the board is generally sufficient. However, in this case, you have not validated the contractor's bid, and I think it's essential that you do so, because it's not up to you to invalidate it, it's up to you and the Board to come to an agreement as to its validity. If they think it's valid, they have the obligation to come after you.

I suggest that you track down the original contractor and validate the bid. If you can't track them down, then I think you're in for not just a couple of thousand dollars of legal fees, but you're also spending your HOA dues on legal fees against you.

All the best,
1 vote
Ingrid Ski R…, Agent, Mission Viejo, CA
Tue Oct 1, 2013
HI Nancy,

I would suggest talking with a real estate attorney to give you advice about this situation. I am not sure what th HOA rules are and would be wis to consult an attorney.. Good luck

Ingrid Ski Realtor
1 vote
Thom Colby, Agent, Irvine, CA
Tue Oct 1, 2013
I think you have to PROOVE you didn't do it. You indicated there were spelling errors and an incorrect zip code but you don't seem to be disputing the issue - especially since you actually took photos and got an estimate !
I suggest you absolutely proove without any doubt that you did not do it.
Is this a Residential area or commercial? Did they deliver the notices to your home or business? If you don't get it resolved quickly, they can place a lien against your property until they get paid.
Try to be as nice as possible and find a way to resolve it.
Best of luck,
1 vote
Hi Thom, thanks for the quick response. This is a residential property. I'm living in a community with 18 homes. When they tried to mail me the notification of the fine 6 months ago, they got my zip code wrong, therefore their letters never got to me. I didn't find out about it until I saw the fines show up on my monthly HOA statements. When I told them I went to the actual business location of the contractor and it was an empty building. They keep telling me that the contractors are still in business but at a different building. I have to go check that out.
Flag Wed Oct 2, 2013
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