PHOENIX - When Ted and Laurie Koch realized they forgot to pay their semi annual assessment, he went in person and paid double.
Ted says the management company waived the $15 late fee. He expected the extra to go towards fees or the next assessment.
"I thought everything was copacetic. We never got a thing from anyone until the following February," he says.
He gets a letter from First Service Residential management company. Turns out that extra payment was not applied to January. And he's late again.
"We never really saw any invoices so all of a sudden all of this money is accumulating but you don't really know what it's from," Laurie says.
The answer might be a ledger dated May 2017.
Its shows that the original missed payment cost far more than a $15 dollar late fee.
There was a $20 dollar re-bill fee from July, $50 pre-legal demand fee from August, $150 pre-legal demand fee from September.
Each month they were getting a new charge and they say didn't receive any notice about them until it was too late.
Neighbor Chad Lakridis says when he missed payment he says he never got another invoice either.
But he did get a letter from HOA attorneys.
"Oh it threatened foreclosure, and liens, and attorney fees all kinds of things," he says.
It also said he owed more than $700 and says the letter was the first he'd heard about it.
Chad hired an attorney.
"Between the both of us we tried to resolve this," he says.
But for two months he says his payments were returned and when he was finally allowed to pay, "it jumped to like $900."
After that Chad says his attorney was ignored for 7 months.
"I've gone into the office several times. I've left messages for the community manager here in City North. No reply back from him. I've requested to be heard at the hearings. No reply to that as well."
Attorneys for the Desert Ridge Community Association tell me it gives "a minimum of 5 written notices" before it goes to attorneys.
The law firm then sends two more notices and even then homeowners are "afforded an opportunity to resolve the delinquency without incurring any additional collection fees."
These homeowner tell me, that didn't happen.
But some of the communication they did get from the HOA was sent to their addresses with documents for other people.
"Juan doesn't even know he's being sued right now," Ted says.
It makes them wonder if those missing invoices that may have alerted them to those late fees ended up somewhere else, too.
"They threw us under the bus," Ted says. "In my opinion everybody should be ashamed of themselves here. From the DRCA to the board to these attorneys."
Ted's bill is more than $4,400 and he's battling in court in February. HOA attorneys have asked a judge for summary judgment which would prevent a trial. Chad believes his total is up to $6,000, no trial date has been set yet.
With similar issues, document everything in writing, keep all emails, demand future payments go to assessments.
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