HOA, condo & co-op news digest (Dec. 29, 2019)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Mayor threatens to demolish dilapidated condos; courts weigh in on HOA foreclosures; sinkholes, poor drainage plague HOA-governed communities; HOA tows residents’ cars without notice.



Mayor’s ultimatum: fix Woodside Condominiums or city will demolish them

Like many other run down housing complexes, Woodside Condominiums has been in a serious state of decline for years. Out-of-state investor landlords own most of the units, and the community is poorly managed.

Most of the units are vacant and unlivable. A few stragglers remain, including vagrants and squatters who are hiding from the law or who aren’t paying rent.

After a fire in September, and recent wave of violent crime at Woodside, the Mayor of Center Point has put condo owners on notice. Fix the problems and make the units livable within 60 days, or the city will step in and demolish the dilapidated buildings.

Woodside has been in the news before. In September, Birmingham Water Works stopped service for several days, when the condo association failed to pay its $136,000 utility bill.


Center Point mayor says demolition could be next for Woodside Condominiums
by Ashley GoodenSunday, December 15th 2019


Investor fighting to keep 70-year-old disabled woman’s home, purchased at HOA foreclosure for $19K

Martha Hummel says she has suffered with depression since 2011, keeping the 70-year-old homebound, avoiding other people. She says she didn’t even pick up her mail.

That’s why she didn’t notice that Windsong HOA hired a new management company. Likewise the homeowner didn’t know her automatic HOA fee payments weren’t reaching the correct destination.

The HOA noticed, however, and, when it didn’t get a response from Hummel, placed a lien on her home.

By the time Hummel realized what was happening, her $350,000 home had already been sold at an HOA foreclosure auction for a little over $19,000.

The eviction notice she received in August got the homeowner’s attention.

Now she’s trying to get the HOA foreclosure sale reversed. Hummel has already agreed to pay Windsong HOA its money.

But it’s up to a judge to decide if the buyer of the property, Craig Stirn of C&C Investments, will have to give Hummel her home back.

So far, despite the circumstances, Stirn insists on keeping the property. He plans to ask the court not to cancel the sale.   Hummel and Stirn both await the next court hearing and the judge’s decision.

This story highlights the importance of social as well as medical intervention for people suffering with depression. Health care professionals should take extra steps to ensure that a responsible party is looking out for their patient, and preventing the exploitation of vulnerable HOA homeowners.


Disabled woman fights in court to keep her home after foreclosure sale
Posted: 10:40 PM, Dec 19, 2019 |Updated: 12:41 AM, Dec 20, 2019
By: Adi Guajardo, Denver Channel Contact7

Court holds off on deciding case of Loveland woman foreclosed on by HOA
Martha Hummel, 70, will keep home for now in temporary ‘status quo’
By MAX LEVY | Loveland Reporter-Herald
PUBLISHED: December 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm | UPDATED: December 20, 2019 at 10:30 am


Due to sinkhole that collapsed in October, resident of historic condo still unable to use part of his home

Since October, Brian Kildee of Silver Spring has been unable to use a third of his home at National Park Seminary Condominiums.

The Bethesda-area luxury condo is part of an historic 1800s castle-like structure, complete with its own turret.

After a sinkhole opened up beneath the bridge that connects the main living space of his condo to the turret, Abaris Realty advised Kildee to avoid using that part of his home.

Kildee has two small children, who cannot access some of their clothing stored in the part of the condo that is currently off-limits.

No word on when engineers and the HOA will get their act together, and permanently repair the sinkhole.

But the report serves as a reminder that converting historic buildings to condominiums can lead to unpleasant surprises and expensive repairs.


Part of Silver Spring House is Off Limits Due to Sinkhole

Geological formation affecting condominium at the National Park Seminary campus
BY DAN SCHERE | Bethesda magazine |Published: 2019-12-16 18:46 (Updated 2019-12-18)

National Park Seminary Condos




Can Hometown America solve Oak Point’s pervasive poor drainage problems?

For nearly a year, the town of Middleboro has been dealing with more than 300 complaints from homeowners in the Oak Point 55+ active adult subdivision.

Developed by Hometown America, the community was built on a low-lying land parcel. Despite efforts to manage stormwater in the design and construction process, many owners experience standing water in their foundation crawl spaces, with moisture seeping up through concrete floor slabs.

Homeowners also complain of standing water in their yards and driveways.

Although Hometown America has installed french drains around many of the homes, the problems persist. And, according to local reports, only half of homeowner complaints have been addressed.

At least one Selectman of Middleboro has the nerve to ask the obvious question: can the poor drainage problems at Oak Point ever be eliminated?

The local health department continues to investigate numerous building code violations for Oak Point’s relatively new homes.

Poor drainage is a common complaint among new homeowners across the U.S. Most of the time, poor stormwater management, cracked slabs, and wet crawl space or basement problems could have been avoided, if only the local government bucked the status quo, saying NO to development of low lying land parcels with high water tables.


Selectmen face continued pressure from Oak Point residents following report from local health agent
By Daniel Schemer / Contributing Writer, South Coast Today
Posted Dec 13, 2019 at 3:59 PMUpdated Dec 13, 2019 at 3:59 PM


KTNV’s Darcy Spears labels Trissino, an HOA community in Mountain’s Edge, a ‘parking prison.’

Like many densely populated, affordable HOA-governed communities, residents of Trissino struggle with a lack of adequate parking for their vehicles.

The problem? When planning so-called ‘affordable’ housing developments, local governments across the U.S. tend to approve high density plans that maximize the number of homes, while sacrificing space for cars.

The results? Tiny, cramped garages. Short driveways. Narrow streets. Dead-ends, cul-de-sacs and stub-streets without adequate turn-around radius. That means very limited curbside parking, too.

So many vehicles, but nowhere to park.

Usually, a shortage of parking results in massive dysfunction for HOA-governed townhouse and condo communities.

The knee-jerk reaction of many HOA boards is to hire a towing contractor to haul away any vehicle parked in a restricted area.  Trissino’s condo HOA board did just that. But they also ticked off dozens of residents by enabling the contractor (Ashley Towing) to remove cars without warning.

On the bright side, after KTNV’s report, Trissino HOA is reconsidering its no-warning towing policy.

But, unless the HOA works on real solutions to their parking shortage, we’ll probably see more reports of abusive towing in the future.


Residents fuming after HOA tows cars with no warning
Lack of parking in high density neighborhoods blamed
Posted: 7:54 AM, Dec 26, 2019 | Updated: 10:59 AM, Dec 26, 2019
By: Darcy Spears |KTNV



South Carolina

Supreme Court weighs in on ‘unconscionable’ low sale price of home at HOA foreclosure auction

In the latest reported HOA foreclosure nightmare, Winrose HOA sold a $128,000 home to Regime Solutions LLC of Columbia for a mere $3,000.

This because homeowners Devery and Tina Hale fell behind on their HOA fees by $250. As is typical in these cases, the Hales’ account balance quickly ballooned to $2,900, most of it to cover attorney fees.

The $3,000 HOA foreclosure auction occurred in 2014, but the Hales have been fighting to get their equity back ever since. Even after being evicted, the Hales have continued to pay the mortgage on the property.

The auction buyer has made no effort to take over or pay off the mortgage.

But now there’s a glimmer of hope for the homeowners.

Earlier this month, South Carolina Supreme Court called the HOA auction price ‘unconscionable,’ and ordered the Hales’ case back to foreclosure court to decide whether the sale price was appropriate.

Housing consumer advocates will watch closely for a guiding decision on a what exactly makes a foreclosure sale price ‘too low.’



SC home sold for $3,000 over late $250 HOA fee. Supreme Court calls that ‘unconscionable.’
By Jessica Holdman jholdman@postandcourier.com Post and Courier
Dec 18, 2019 Updated Dec 20, 2019

Ontario, Canada

Toronto’s high rise condo boards take steps to avoid injury or death from falling objects

Toronto is a densely populated city of mid and high rise residential buildings. And that vertical growth comes with some serious hazards.

Any object dropped or thrown from several stories above bears lethal force.

For example, CBC reports that a two-year-old child died after she was struck by an air conditioning unit that plunged from an 8th floor condominium unit. As a result of this tragic event, Toronto Community Housing Corporation‘s management will no longer allow residents to install window AC units.

TCHC plans to replace all window AC units — about 6,000 of them — with floor models before the 2020 Cooling Season.

In a similar case involving another high-rise condominium, CBC  published an update on an incident that happened last February. At that time, a 19-year-old woman carelessly tossed a chair over the side of her condo balcony. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the consequences could have been catastrophic.

After a video of the stunt went viral, Toronto Police put out a warrant for Marcella Zoia’s arrest.  The woman turned herself in shortly thereafter, pleading guilty to a criminal mischief charge.

Zoia will be sentenced in January. She could face up to 6 months in prison, although her attorney has asked for probation instead.


Tenants not allowed to install window AC units after toddler’s death, TCHC says
Crystal Mirogho, 2, died after a heavy window AC unit fell on her from 8th floor
Muriel Draaisma · CBC News · Posted: Dec 02, 2019 8:57 PM ET | Last Updated: December 3

Woman who threw chair from highrise balcony pleads guilty to mischief charge
Marcella Zoia, 19, is ‘already a changed woman,’ her lawyer says
CBC News · Posted: Nov 15, 2019 11:39 AM ET | Last Updated: November 15 ♦♦

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