Local scam going on.

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Forbin, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    At least that's what we're calling it.

    About 5 years ago we started getting letters from a local "Lake Association" we'd never heard of. They said that when we bought our house (1992), we automatically joined the Association, but we've never paid dues. They weren't looking for 20 years worth of back dues, but wanted us to start paying up.

    We never signed up for any such thing. 1800 other households in the area got the same notice. One of my neighbors showed his lawyer, and the lawyer laughed and said to ignore it, they don't have a leg to stand on.

    We've been getting a letter yearly ever since, and the bill is up to almost $300 now. The Lake Association is now trying to start a class action suit to get the 1800 of us to pay.

    The lake itself is tiny, a mile away from my house. I'd never heard of it until this started, and I've still never seen it. It's not a park of any kind; it's a lake surrounded by houses. You can't even get to it unless you live there. So my paying them money gets me nothing.

    Apparently the association ran out of money to "maintain" the lake, and that's what spurred them to try to extort it from the whole town.

    There was a court hearing on the suit the other day, so we're waiting to hear.
  2. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    Not saying this is some Tony Soprano made up scam - but this is some Tony Soprano made up scam.
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  3. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    For you to have "automatically joined," wouldn't there have to be some kind of covenant in your deed? I know there are special assessment districts that don't rely on that kind of thing, but those involve taxes collected by local governments, not dues paid to any kind of private association ...
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  4. Amaris

    Amaris Princess of Love

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    Exactly. Like HOAs, if you were there before they existed, and never signed any contract or agreement, you're in the clear. Otherwise, it opens the door to a hell of a lot of abuse that has the full backing of the law.
  5. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Yet another reason to never buy where there's an HOA. Even tho there isn't an HOA where you are.
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  6. Amaris

    Amaris Princess of Love

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    HOAs are a plague on all of civilization.
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  7. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Latest news is that there was supposed to be a hearing so a judge could rule on whether the Association could legally bring a class-action suit against the 1620 (the correct number) households and force us to pay. The hearing was postponed because the Association only notified 30 of us about the hearing, and none of them could make it. The local newspaper tried to contact the president of the assoc for comment, but "she's not responding to phone calls or emails."

    Doesn't sound fishy at all. Nope. :unsure:
  8. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    I'm sure there is a logical explanation, like all the money you residents contribute will be invested by a Nigerian prince! :yes:
  9. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    The idea that the public should fund a private lake with no public access is absurd.
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  10. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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  11. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    So after reading a couple of articles ...

    As I understand it, their argument relies on you being shareholders in the association by virtue of a deed covenant dating back to the 1950s. That gives you voting rights in the association. Couldn't the people being sued essentially stage a hostile takeover of the association by getting elected to its board of directors at the next opportunity?
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  12. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    I recommend armed insurrection! :poodle:

    New info yesterday! There apparently WAS a result of the hearing that no one showed up for. The judge told the Lake Association that he's never heard of any suit like what they're trying to do, and he didn't sound like he liked it. He was furious that they only informed 30 families that there would be a hearing, and he ordered them to notify all 1600+ families by certified mail. It will cost them thousands! [​IMG]

    The wife and I decided that if a group bands together to hire a lawyer, we're in. But it's not worth spending the money to get our own lawyer just for us.
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  13. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    One of the town facebook pages had a post from someone who's lived on one of the lakes all his life, and says no one ever asked him for dues. Then one day the association asked if they could run an electrical line from his outdoor lamp to some lights on the dam, in exchange for rights to use the beach. He said sure! He says he never got the "pass" they promised, and got turned away from the beach when he tried to use it. Then he started getting membership bills. And his electrical bill went up significantly for the beach lights. He's... unhappy.

    Conversely, someone I spoke to knows some people who've lived in the area since around that magic 1950 date when the association was associated, and they say they remember signing up and have always paid dues.

    The whole situation is schizzo.
  14. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    In that case I'd hire an electrician to disconnect those damn dam lights. :diacanu:
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  15. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    I'm thinkin' a machete would be more satisfying.
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  16. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Oddly enough, we haven't heard a peep out of these people since the judge told them to spend $6,000 notifying 1620 people by registered mail. :lol:
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  17. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    They peeped. We got a 15-page legal document in the mail explaining the whole "complaint" against we "defendants."
    I've heard from other residents that they've been served legal papers, and we will be too, I guess announcing the hearing. We've been told that the cost of the mailing and the serving will be reflected in a huge dues increase, once we're all forced to pay up.

    The dues they want from us, btw, go only to the maintenance of the lakes and their dams, and do not include ANY rights to use the facilities. :wtf:

    The claim is that the lake association was incorporated in 1947 to include 700 acres around the lakes, which at the time was a sparseley-inhabited vacation area with summer cabins. And any homes built since are "automatically" included in the association. Even thought the area is residential/commercial now.

    One neighbor finally checked his mortgage paperwork and insurance, and he found no mention of the association at all.

    A neighbor of a neighbor managed to speak to the woman who's causing all this, and says she's 100% convinced she's in the right.

    Oh, and another side effect - people who were in the process of selling their homes are losing their buyers, 'cause the buyers found out about this shit.
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  18. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    :ua:
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  19. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Sounds like some will have grounds for a counter suit.
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  20. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    Did they check the deed itself?

    Any competent title examiner would find that kind of covenant in the course of the mandatory title search, but I don't know if it would end up in mortgage paperwork unless the deed itself was included in those papers...
  21. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Word is that it doesn't matter if it's mentioned in the deed, the title insurance or the mortgage or not. The Association is rigidly claiming that if you own a house in the 700 acres, you owe dues, period. :bang:

    The mayor has weighed in: It's a private matter and the town of Oakland will not get involved. :bang:

    My across-the-street neighbor's lawyer son has weighed in: he lives in a different town and prefers to stay the hell away from this mess. :lol:

    We got notified we had the registered letter waiting for us at the post office and my wife picked it up. The PO had to set up a separate waiting line just to hand these out. Mary talked to the other folks on line and general opinions are what you'd expect.

    There's a facebook group set up for mutual kvetching. People are talking about having a town meeting, banding together to hire a lawyer, etc. Nothing concrete yet.

    Word is the Lake Association has hired a lawyer who actually specializes in this kind of thing! Apparently there are a lot of HOAs out there that residents didn't know about, that suddenly need to sue them for dues. Who'd'a thought?
  22. Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee

    Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee Straight Awesome

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    I would normally say that you will win this, but you're in New Jersey.
  23. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Armed insurrection may be your only recourse. Thank God for the Second Amendment.
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  24. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    There's a facebook group, which is mostly complaining, but some of is are trying to get a town meeting together to discuss chipping in for a lawyer. I asked if I should bring a flaming torch, or just a pitchfork.

    Mary knows people who have been paying the ransom, and they say they got the legal notice served as well. They're even more confused and upset over it!
  25. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    If there's no law on the books and no covenant in anyone's deed, then it seems like there's no way to legally bind anyone to the association.
  26. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Town meeting scheduled in a couple of weeks. ID and proof of being sued required at the door, to keep Lake Association people out. :lol:
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  27. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    It certainly shows damages which give them standing. The lady will lose and then after several hundred sue she will likely lose her home. I guess that is the price for being stupid.
  28. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    There's a meeting of the Lake Association itself at the local school this week. I think I'll set up a farm implement concession stand outside.

    Hm... some of us sueees are wondering why they're having their meeting at a location funded by our taxes, yet the mayor declines to get involved in this mess because it's a private organization.
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  29. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    Be a good question for the mayor, methinks.
  30. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    My wife has a friend who went to school with the mayor. Her analysis: "She's always been a bitch." :lol: