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CONTACT 13: Extreme HOA fines prevent home sale

Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-04 02:29:31-05
It's HOA Hall of Shame meets Squatter Spotters. Contact 13 found a pair of homeowners associations that are adding to our valley's squatter problem by holding a house and homeowner hostage to extreme fines.
Terrance Flowers put his Southern Highlands home on the market when he moved his family to Florida. And it wasn't long before squatters broke in.
"They damaged all of the doors," Flowers says as he showed us his property. "They took the pool equipment apart."
Flowers upended his life for a temporary move back to Las Vegas to confront the squatters. 
"They asked me, 'Who was I?' And I told them, 'I'm the owner of the house.' And they said, 'Well, we stay here now' and slammed the door."
He had to go through a formal eviction process to get them out and file a claim with his insurance company to repair the damage.
"The squatters took the doorbells."
Flowers put the house back up for sale and returned to his family on the east coast. 
But then it came to a screeching halt.
"I have no clue. The house was sold three times. Cash offers. And it just blew my mind ... how all of a sudden the sale is no good." 
Turns out, fines from his HOAs were stopping the sales. They were coming from both Solaro, the sub-association, and master association Southern Highlands.
The fines are for violations such as missing shrubs, dead trees and weeds, even the driveway gate, which the squatters destroyed.
"The HOA started fining me every week for that," Flowers says. 
The amount of fines and fees that have racked up against this house isn't just high, it's almost unheard of. In fact, it's so much you can literally use that money to buy a house. 
"$111,000 for fines, fees. It doesn't happen," says Flowers' realtor Julia Suarez.
She says she's lost five buyers on this property. People who've walked away because of the HOAs.
"They will not negotiate at all," Suarez says. 
Flowers says he got no notice that the fines were racking up.  
And when Suarez asked how they got to that exorbitant amount?
"We're not getting a complete detailed printout of $111,000," she says. 
The numbers on the documents don't add up. A demand letter from Southern Highlands shows a total amount due of $111,932.19, while the Resident Transaction Detail given to Flowers shows a balance of $57,950. That's for October 2014 through September 2016.
A collection agency is also looking for $6,039.54 for Solaro, but their transaction detail shows a balance of $7,000.  
"It doesn't make sense," Suarez says. "Even the title companies have never seen anything like this."
We called both Solaro and Southern Highlands, as well as their management companies. No one agreed to talk to us on camera and so far, no one has answered our questions.
The house remains in limbo.
"We can't close," Suarez says.
And Flowers' life remains on hold.
"I would be living in Florida spending time with my kids," he says. "And I have to be here and babysit this house."
Flowers says that's the only way to keep squatters at bay while he fights with his HOAs.
"They're not allowing me to move forward," he says. "This house would have been sold by now."
Believe it or not, the fines keep racking up. As of Friday, the Southern Highlands balance is now $157,700.
But now that they're in the spotlight, the HOA may finally be willing to budge. We learned both Southern Highlands and Solaro reached out to Flowers' realtor, asking him to come to board meetings to discuss waiving some of the fines.