Scottsdale - Neighbors Ted Koch and Chad Lakridis don't know each other, but both have the same story. They live in the Desert Ridge Community Association which they both say is unfairly billing them thousands of dollars because of a $15 late fee.
Ted and wife Laurie say it started when they were living out of state during the summer of 2016. They say they didn't get an invoice to their forwarded address and as a result forgot to pay the twice-a-year assessment of $186 dollars.
When back in town, Ted says he went in person to settle up the bill and the First Service Residential Management company agreed to waive the $15 late fee. But just in case, Ted says he wrote a check for double the amount.
"Just to make sure we're not late again and if I owe anything else this should cover it," he says.
Didn't happen. Ted's bill was climbing. And he says no one bothered to tell him until it was too late.
"I mean I do everything in good faith to pay bills and here they are...I'm turned over to an attorney," Ted says.
Neighbor Chad has a similar story. He says a brain injury delayed his July 2014 payment. He says he also did not get an invoice and that his first and only reminder was a collection notice from the HOA attorneys Maxwell and Morgan in November of that year.
"Oh it threatened foreclosure, and liens, and attorney fees and all kinds of stuff," Chad says.
Three months late and Chad owed $703 dollars on a $186 assessment. Half of that was attorney fees.
"I fully expected to pay the late fees but hundreds and now thousands of dollars," he says.
Intimidated, he got his own attorney who he says tried to submit payments in November and December of 2014. Chad says the HOA returned the payments digging an even deeper hole.
"It jumped to like $900 in December of 2014. My attorney was going back and forth by email, phone calls."
In January of 2015 Chad says he was finally allowed to pay the past due assessment and an additional $186 in person. But by that point he says the fees were already out of control.
"Oh they're racking up fees left and right," he says.
Attorneys for Desert Ridge Community Association tell me it, "is always very interested in resolving delinquencies without the need for legal intervention, and even after legal counsel is employed, desert ridge endeavors to routinely work towards a mutually agreeable solution."
Through it's attorney the HOA says it gives homeowners "a minimum of 5 written notices which give each member the opportunity to resolve any delinquency before it is turned over to the law firm in accordance with the Desert Ridge collection policy."
Thursday night, we're looking at Ted and Chad say they were being charged attorney fees well before getting an invoice. We'll also be looking at how the bills got so high so fast, and why they no longer trust the management company or the attorneys with their personal information.
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