An HOA Hall of Shame like you've never seen before. Usually, it's the homeowner's association board behaving badly, but this time, Contact 13 has the story of a management company causing an HOA to cry foul.
Joanne Daniels' home is a castle not just to her, but to all her furry and feathered friends.
"The thought of losing it just terrified me!"
Joanne feared losing her house due to a lien and threat of foreclosure from her homeowners' association.
"I was scared to death because I'm retired and I live on Social Security and I couldn't pay this money and I kept getting these threatening letters."
Letters saying a missed payment had ballooned into a $1,300 debt. One her own board says she doesn't owe.
"What makes this story different is this is not a complaint on the board that you're going to straighten us up on," said HOA President Mike O'Brien. "This is the 'man bites dog' story."
Board President Mike O'Brien says the Smoke Ranch HOA unwittingly hired a gun that was pointed right back at them. He says Red Rock Financial services had their finger on the trigger.
"They certainly weren't looking out for the association's interest or the homeowner's interest."
Red Rock Financial is the collection arm of First Service Residential -- the company that used to manage the Smoke Ranch HOA. That relationship ended in 2014.
The HOA was so thrilled to get rid of their management company that they actually framed the letter to First Service Residential terminating their service.
But that didn't stop Red Rock from pursuing Joanne.
"I got this huge bill with all of these charges and I couldn't figure it out," Joanne said. "So I called them and asked them, what is this? And they said well, back in 2010 you were fined $100."
A 5-year-old fine she didn't know existed. Even the board has no record of it.
"This was something that I personally addressed multiple times with both of the companies," said Bernie Massett, who sits on the HOA's board of directors now, and is the past president.
"As the president at the time, I went in and said this is an incorrect balance on this account and all of these fees need to be washed and they're not real fees."
Steven Parker is president of First Service Residential, which owns and operates Red Rock Financial. He declined an on-camera interview. He says Joanne was sent to collections legitimately. Not for the fine, but for a few unpaid assessments in 2011 and that their internal records prove it.
"I've never been late," Joanne countered. "My association fees are paid through my bank every month."
The Smoke Ranch board members are backing Joanne, saying the debt was bogus from the beginning.
They're standing by her even though First Service Residential threatened to sue the HOA for libel and slander if this story was put on the air.
"They're using strong arm tactics to scare homeowners into having to hire an attorney to fight it out or put you in a position where you just say, 'I give up,' " said HOA Vice President Marco Clarke.
Clarke nearly lost his home several years ago due to fines for problems with his front yard.
"It felt like a shakedown. That's the best way to put it."
After a battle, he decided to join the board to protect people like Joanne.
"The homeowners association isn't here to collect homes," Clarke said.
All the board members agree that their former management company belongs in our HOA Hall of Shame.
"Oh, they should get an Oscar," O'Brien said.
After a lot of push-back from the board, Red Rock Financial stopped pursuing Joanne's case and released the lien on her home.
But the collections agency says someone has to pay their fees. They plan to go after the board to collect.
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