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Arizona condo owners win legal fight over assessments

When you own a condo, you expect to pay home owner association fees. It sort of goes with the territory.

However, you don't expect to get a bill in the mail for $18,000 telling you that it's your share for the condo's air conditioning repair and asking you to pay up right away.

Since most people don't have $18,000 just tucked away in their savings account, the owners of the condos in the 17-story tower located in Pheonix, Arizona, decided to band together to fight the total $5 million bill.

For many of them, it was either fight. sell their homes or let them go into foreclosure for the unpaid fees. They simply didn't have the money. In addition, many of the condo's owners felt misled into believing that the air conditioning bill had been paid for already using money received in a lawsuit over construction defects in 2013.

Defeating the assessment meant that the condo owners who rallied together sought legal advice and were told that they needed to get two-thirds of the owners to agree to vote against the assessment. They busied themselves contacting other condo owners and voted the assessment down.

The condo's Board promptly responded by sending out another bill to each condo owner -- for $20,000. The bills were supposedly for repairs and condo owners were told that -- this time around -- there would be no vote.

One of the condo's owners took on the fight using her own money to hire a legal team -- others backed her by testifying. Ultimately, the judge ruled in the residents' favor, saying that the Board had violated the homeowner's association's rules. The Board and management company in charge of the assessment resigned -- leaving a newly elected board to sort out how to handle the repairs in a less-expensive manner. It's a goal they're happily embracing, even though questions about what happened to the money from the previous lawsuit remain.

It isn't easy to fight a homeowner's association -- but good legal advice and determination can often help carry a case through to a win.

Source: AZCentral.com, "Phoenix Landmark condo owners fight $15,000-plus HOA assessments -- and win," Catherine Reagor and Jessica Boehm, Nov. 13, 2017

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