Contact 13 Investigates
Bank of America sues Nevada homeowner associations
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Homeowners and home buyers are caught up in a dispute between Bank of America and Nevada homeowner associations.
It's a battle Contact 13 has highlighted in our HOA Hall of Shame.
Now it's being fought in court.
As Chief Investigator Darcy Spears reports, B of A is suing dozens of HOAs for fees it calls "excessive and unlawful."
A North Las Vegas home that Realtor Ryan Melvin has been trying to short sell is a prime example of why Bank of America is suing HOAs across Nevada.
"This has the collection fees of almost $1500. The violations and fines of $14,500."
Almost $16,500. Mostly for fines over weeds, trash, and pine needles. All at a home that Melvin's clients moved out of and were trying to short sell with B of A.
"Their home sat vacant for a year and a half in which we were negotiating the short sale."
Bank of America services thousands of Nevada mortgage loans. Many are clouded by HOA liens for things like unpaid dues and fines. And they usually come with high attorney's fees and collection costs.
The bank has to clear the cloud in order to sell a foreclosed property or approve a short sale. But B of A doesn't want to pay what it terms "excessive and unlawful" collection costs and attorney fees.
"It's not in the bank's best interest to help the homeowner if the fees are too excessive," Melvin explains.
In the lawsuit, B of A says HOAs have rejected their payoffs and sometimes refused to communicate with them, which is what Ryan Melvin says happened to his clients.
"The short sale ended up falling out on two previous occasions because we couldn't come to an agreement. We couldn't get the HOA to meet eye to eye with the bank."
And sometimes, the HOA ends up foreclosing on the home, which is exactly what happened to Char Vanderveen, whose story Contact 13 reported in May.
Her HOA sold her $700,000 home in Mountain's Edge, for under $7,000. Almost $6,000 of it was attorney fees and collection costs tacked on by Alessi & Koenig--one of the firms B of A is suing.
"Homeowners associations are not going to be able to--many of them are not going to be able to afford to hire companies like ours to collect past due assessments."
Alessi & Koenig Attorney Ryan Kerbow says that's what'll happen if B of A prevails. And, he fears even more fallout if HOAs end up holding the bag on collection fees and costs.
"Then more homeowners are not going to pay. It's going to create a very difficult situation for the HOAs."
In addition to Alessi & Koenig, big names being sued by B of A include the Aliante, Southern Highlands and Mountain's Edge HOAs, as well as management companies Terra West and RMI, and collection companies Nevada Association Services and Red Rock Financial.
Ryan Melvin believes they all forced the bank's hand.
"Enough is enough. And somebody needs to take a stand. So hopefully this will get the HOAs attention."
Bank of America says they have no comment beyond the lawsuit, which is expected to wind up before the Nevada Supreme Court... leaving it up to those justices to decide how much HOAs can collect, and who from.