1. Yes, it's a whole new look! Have questions or need help? Please post your question in the New Forum Questions thread Click the X to the right to dismiss this notice
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Seeing tons of unread posts after the upgrade? See this thread for help. Click the X to the right to dismiss this notice
    Dismiss Notice

Southern Walk HOA charged me $1,506.88 in “legal” fees for daring to ask to see the HOA docs

Discussion in 'Broadlands Community Issues' started by cogs, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. cogs

    cogs Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    54
    Fellow Southern Walk residents:

    Recently I asked the Southern Walk HOA to make the HOA documents available for inspection to me. Virginia Law and the Bylaws of the HOA itself, homeowners in good standing are entitled to inspect and copy the HOA documents.

    Southern Walk HOA responded with:

    1. A non-disclosure agreement with prohibits the homeowners from discussing even with neighbors if they found any irregularities. Under other conditions, I would have filed this under “nice try” category.
    2. A demand of $585 for copying charges of 250 pages, which need to be paid in advance by certified funds.
    And, as if that is not bad enough…
    3. Levied $1506.88 legal fees against me.

    These legal fees are levied against me without informing me of the charges or producing necessary justification. SWHOA President Ms. Cotti’s claimed for the legal fees is because, I sent the letter requesting the documents of inspection to SWHOA’s registered agent and copied their attorney Constance Miller.

    Since, Southern Walk HOA does not have a brick and mortar office, mailing to the registered agent is a logical choice. In this case, Sagan, Mason and Mason PC also happen to be acting as attorneys for SWHOA for collection activities. They charge SWHOA $175/hour for representation. No registered agent would charge nearly $350 merely for forwarding the mail to their client. I assume SWHOA president consulted Sagan, Mason and Mason for nearly two hours on how to respond to my request and the charges belong to that consultation.

    Since I received the communication from Ms. Constance Miller directly asking me to sign the Non-Disclosure agreement, I presume SWHOA President asked her to develop the NDA and send it to me. SWHOA President chooses to bill me the charges for it.

    Over the last year, I tried to attend the monthly meetings regularly and ask questions in private communications, meetings and public forums which were appropriate. Ms. Cotti did not like me questioning her decisions and she attacked viciously. Only way she could stop me from attending the meetings and asking questions is to show that I am not in good standing. Hence, these legal charges were levied against me in a hurry to bring my status to delinquent.

    The first attached document is the statement of account which is generated on 8/13/13 with due date for legal fees on the same day and it was mailed to me the on 8/14/13. These dates are significant. SWHOA monthly meeting was scheduled for August 15th and they know that I would be there. To avoid giving me the minutes of the meeting which they are required to do, First Service agent was asked to send me the notice me. Obviously Ms. Cotti refused to give me the minutes as I was not upto date with my payments based on the statement of account generated 2 days earlier.

    And, just a week later, First Service sent me a late notice which included another legal fee, which was just four days old. By this time, it became evident to me that SWHOA President Ms. Cotti is trying to get me into the delinquent state so she can ban me from attending the meetings and unleash the credit collection procedures against me, I paid the “legal” fees with the condition what I am not accepting the charges and I might seek refund if the charges are proven to be illegal. Wrote letters to SWHOA seeking justification of the charges 6 weeks ago, haven’t received a response yet.

    In the meantime, I also realized that that First Service is not granting me privileges to access my account online. When I called the First Service customer service, was told that I need to talk to Amy Phillips, Agent for first service directly. Sent here two emails in the last month, haven’t received a response either.

    We are the owners of HOA and its documents and we should not be subjected to these mafia like actions. If it happened to me, it can and will happen to you. Already, a number of Southern Walk residents have expressed their disappointment with functioning of SWHOA and its president.

    We need to bring normalcy and professionalism to our HOA. We need to take back our HOA.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Mike OMalley

    Mike OMalley Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    26
    That's absolutely outrageous, Sashi. Despite the way they've conducted themselves to date, I can't believe SWHOA would extend themselves to be that petty and vindictive. It speaks volumes about their priorities and attentiveness to their constituents that they're doing something like that to you.

    They're completely out of control and out of line. The entire SWHOA board is responsible for the organization's actions, not simply Cotti. They all share the blame. Singling her out (correct or not) creates the impression that the others are blameless. Each and every one of them has a responsibility to behave in an ethical, legal and correct manner. Each and every one of them is responsible when things like this happen.
     
  3. Zeratul

    Zeratul Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Messages:
    1,737
    Likes Received:
    125
    Mike I agree.... and this does not pass any "sniff" test that I can think of.... sorry Sashi that these events are occurring. I understand in great detail the difficult relationship that you have had with the Board and with Erica directly. I have heard many accusations involving your actions and inappropriateness of contact made to the SWHOA attorney and other "problems" you have created (again, just general complaints said about you in meetings and the Facebook page).

    But it is one thing to complain about this situation (and do nothing)... but an entirely different situation when the SWHOA Board (all of them) take these kinds of actions. This is completely unacceptable and deserves an explanation. Based upon the documents that you posted, I am truly sorry that this was done to you and your family. Even if you were "wrong" and I use that term loosely, the way this was handled is just not fair. Do what you think you have to, but please keep us informed about any other communication you receive.

    And I am still not clear on what "HOA documents" you are talking about. can you please clarify what you asked for?
     
  4. cogs

    cogs Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    54
    Zeratul,

    For the record, I have never contacted any SWHOA attorneys directly except send Ms. Miller the copy the letter requesting the association documents for inspection. All my interaction with Kurt Rommel is in the town hall meetings. I am aware of those lies propagated against me by Ms. Cotti on facebook page. The real story is, when I read the court transcripts, I was flabbergasted on how bad our attorney performed in the court room, and to make my case, I wrote up a small analysis and posted the word document on the facebook page along the transcripts of the court. Erika did not like it and immediately deleted them and treated to revoke my facebook privileges. Several homeowners came to my defense and finally she agreed to let me post the analysis which I did. According to Erika, some homeowner who read it called the attorney's office to vent their disappointment. My speaking the thruth about the state of litigation openly is the problem Erika was referring to. All that was last December, I can send that analysis to you if you want to see it.

    Erika claimed that the SWHOA has to pay the attorney for the time spent on homeowner's calls. If that is true, then it is mismanagement on her part. Attorneys are not supposed to spend time talking to homeowners without the consent of the their client, the HOA.

    All homeowners are entitled to inspect and copy minutes of the meeting packages, treasurer's reports, balance sheets and such according to Virginia Law and Corporation Bylaws. In addition to those and also asked for the invoices of from the attorneys which they the right to refuse if the think that is confidential. See Attached.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  5. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,264
    Likes Received:
    111
    Document, document, document and be sure it's bulletproof.
     
  6. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2002
    Messages:
    5,345
    Likes Received:
    238
    the lengths people will go to obscure and hide - that alone should be enough to drive more of the homeowners to rally against how their SWHOA is being ran.
     
  7. Vienna

    Vienna New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is there any compliant procedures? I thought there was some rules around HOA organizations...and the performance of the board.
     
  8. Zeratul

    Zeratul Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Messages:
    1,737
    Likes Received:
    125
    Based upon the request letter copy that you posted, it seems that you asked for more than what "HOA docs" would normally include. Not that I know the answer to that, but copies of invoices seems to be a stretch. But your letter also makes clear that before being charged for this request you would like to be contacted in order to be given a chance to agree....seems like that did not happen? Did you get any response back other than a bill?
     
  9. cogs

    cogs Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    54
    Yes, I decided to give it a shot asking for attorney's invoices knowing fully well the chances of getting them is slim. That is why each request is listed as a separate item. They can deny the items which they do not agree. If the disagreements cannot be resolved between the parties, Judges can resolve the disputes. Thats how this is supposed to work. The fact that there are a request of two which they do not agree with does not give the HOA the right to deny my request by putting extra burdens on me like NDA or $1500 legal fees.

    They gave me an offer to get copies of 1 year worth of Minutes for $585.00 The letter itself doesn't speak of NDA but Ms. Cotti made it clear that the Board considers executing the NDA as a demonstration of good faith. And she rips off the first 3 pages of the Minutes adopted and tells me that is all I am entitled to receive. That is in contrast with the letter which claims that each Minutes packet have 25 pages. The copying charge of $585 is based on 10 meetings in the year and 25 pages for each meeting. The minutes she gave show a motion adopted by HOA which requires ALL homeowners asking to see the documents execute the NDA.

    As homeowners we have the right to visually inspect the documents and copy them. About 6 weeks ago, I sent a letter requesting the HOA to make the documents they deem I am entitled to do inspect and after the inspection if I have the need to copy certain pages, I would mark the with Post-It notes. No response yet.

    We have two main problems here:
    1. HOA is wrong in charging me Legal Fees for their attorneys.
    2. HOA still has not complied with Law in making the documents available for inspection.
     
  10. cogs

    cogs Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    54
    SW Board Members:

    I heard that justification is made for charging me $1500 is, since I asked for "too many" documents, your attorney had to spend time and it is not fair for other residents to bear that cost.

    This argument is total fallacy on several grounds.
    1. Neither Virginia Code nor the association Bylaws give the right to the HOA to charge legal fees to homeowners seeking inspection of the documents.
    2. If the HOA did not have necessary procedures in place to handle document inspection requests, development of such procedures should be considered as regular business expenditure. Homeowner requesting the document for inspection cannot be charged for the development of such procedures.
    3. If the HOA is charging me $1500 for servicing my request, why is the demand for additional $585 coping charges?
    4. SWHOA has not given me the documents even after cashing my payment for $1507.
    5. I have sent a written request over 6 weeks ago seeking explanation of the charges and havent received response. If the charges were really for servicing my request, SWHOA would have responded with explanation of the charges.
    6. SWHOA charged me $342 in legal fees from it registered agent who have nothing to do with regular HOA matters
    I am glad that SWHOA is at least admitting privately that it has engaged the attorneys.
     
  11. overflow17

    overflow17 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    3
    Why don't you just run for office and get on the board? It's obvious that you care a great deal about the issues and will be able to make a real difference.
     
    kmjtt and sowalker like this.
  12. T8erman

    T8erman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2003
    Messages:
    5,174
    Likes Received:
    224
    I do believe (could be wrong), if there are ANY outstanding monies to be paid to the HOA (maybe even the lawyers in this case ;) ), a homeowner is considered NOT in good standing and is not elligible to run for the Board. I am sure there are several provisions ready to keep Shashi off the Board.
     
  13. sowalker

    sowalker New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cliff- the shear number of votes Sashi would get if he ran would make clear the will of the residents of the swhoa.
     
  14. Mike OMalley

    Mike OMalley Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    26
    I agree with the personal stake argument, but it's axe-grinding, not personal gain. The SWHOA board has become obsessed by their vendetta and lost sight of the bigger picture. I think the OpenBand contract is crap, I think they can be beaten, but not the way SWHOA is going about it. It's juvenile, amateurish, and embarrassing. They're taking out their frustration at their inability to succeed on their members and hanging out in their Facebook treehouse rather than engaging their constituents.

    Remember when Erika Cotelli used to post here, before her election? She's disappeared since then.
     
  15. latka

    latka Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2002
    Messages:
    1,216
    Likes Received:
    29
    Sorry, that's how I feel about her. Go back and read her posts. She attacked people all the time on this forum. She may be the most wonderful person in the world but in this forum she was nasty.
     
  16. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2002
    Messages:
    5,113
    Likes Received:
    232
    I haven't posted here. Not sure if you meant someone else?
     
    sowalker likes this.
  17. sowalker

    sowalker New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Redon thats how some people go through the world.
     
  18. T8erman

    T8erman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2003
    Messages:
    5,174
    Likes Received:
    224
    Polarizing???
     
    sowalker likes this.
  19. sowalker

    sowalker New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's it t8!
     
  20. redon1

    redon1 aka Aphioni

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    5,929
    Likes Received:
    69
    I'm fully aware of her posts, there are plenty of people who make nasty posts around here. :) maybe she's no angel, but attack the actions, not the person is all i'm saying...
     

Share This Page