Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gazette.Net: Lawsuit could impede HOA debt collection

Gazette.Net: Lawsuit could impede HOA debt collection

Fontell, a former accountant who now is unemployed and past president of the Norbeck Grove I Condominium Association, has been fighting a $236.71 condominium fee that dates back to 2003 — ignoring letters and calls claiming she had to pay, according to court records. She said she already had paid the assesment and The Management Group, Inc., which oversees operations of the Norbeck Condominiums, made a billing error. In 2008, the Norbeck condominium association successfully sued Fontell in a Montgomery County District Court, a ruling she successfully appealed in circuit court, where the condominium association filed the lien against her in hopes of collecting its debt, according to court records. Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg ruled in 2010 the association had waited too long to seek its money, violating the state’s three-year statute of limitations on such claims.
Since the 2010 lien, Fontell said she’s been unable to work as an accountant, a field where credit checks often are part of job applications, or sell her Olney condominium.
Last year, staff with the state’s Attorney Grievance Commission informed Fontell the lien against her and the other liens filed by The Management Group Associates, Inc.’s president, Jeff Gatling, constitute an unauthorized practice of law as they should have been filed by an attorney, not Gatling.
Fontell, who is representing herself after being unable to find a lawyer willing to take on her case pro bono, is seeking compensation under the U.S. Fair Debt Collections Practice Act.
Very interesting case, now before a federal court.  Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Management companies in Texas have been engaging in the unauthorized practice of law here for quite some time. The practice is considered the unauthorized practice of law here as well (a crime). I hope anyone that was a victim of one of these crimes, sues the management company civilly and files a criminal complaint with the local DA. The goal of the management company was to collect "collection fees" that homeowners never consented to and never incurred and which do NOT go to the HOA but rather to the management company. Quite a racket - and this was standard operating procedure for management companies run by and ultimately owned by (via holding companies) legislators holding some of the highest positions in state office. Report the crime and take them to court.