SUN CITY, Ariz., 6:30 a.m. Dec. 27, 2012 -- Residents living in home or condo associations could be charged unnecessary fees for services from management companies.
Sun City Condominium Owners Association board members confirmed they have heard complaints similar to those related to the Independent Newsmedia by a Sun City woman. She claimed to get harassing phone calls from a management company or attorney, demanding payment of past due balances. Sam Estok, Sun City COA board president, said calls his agency receives are primarily about service fees for providing documents and other information that is readily available from association officials.
However, they are not limited to that, he added.
Alleged excessive fees is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in October. Filed by the Watters and Watters law firm of Tucson and attorney J. Roger Wood of Tempe, the lawsuit targets 26 management companies and alleges they are gouging residents with unnecessary fees and acting as attorneys without licenses to practice law. The suit also alleges Debt Collection Practices Act violations and wrongful liens.
In addition to naming 26 management companies, the document lists associations the companies represent. While none of those associations are in Sun City, Jim Ball, Sun City COA board member believes the lawsuit has the potential to set precedent. Mr. Estok hopes it inspires legislators to consider revising state laws to protect residents from these practices.
Part of the problem, according to Mr. Estok, stems from some management companies filing with the state they are the spokesman for homeowners or condo owners associations, then charging fees to provide information and documents available directly from the association free or at lower cost.
“This is done even by companies that are contracting only to do accounting services,” he said.
State law requires HOAs and COAs to designate a spokesman to allow for providing a smooth transition of information and documents to prospective buyers. However, Mr. Estok said existing law allows property management companies to make that designation without the approval of an association’s governing board.
“As it stands now, anyone can designate themselves the spokesman, all they have to do is fill out the form and send it in,” he said.
Read more in the Dec. 26 print edition of the Sun City Independent.