The air conditioning at Landmark Towers in Phoenix needed a major fix, and individual owners’ share to pay for it was $18,000/unit; commercial entities in building even higher cost.
FACTS (brief, 6 sentences): (from article in USA Today of Nov. 13th.)
“I thought I might lose my safety-net home,” said resident Francine Hardaway. People purchased the units with the understanding that the building had been recently renovated. If homeowners don’t pay their dues for more than a year, or rack up a debt of $1,200 in missed regular or special assessments, an HOA can foreclose. One of Landmark’s condo owners, hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit to try to stop the $5 million charge. In early October, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in Sutton’s favor, saying the way the assessment was levied violated the Landmark HOA’s rules. But, “[t]he work at Landmark still needs to be done.”
ISSUES (Summarize both sides argument, both perspectives. You can use bullet points):
- For Plaintiffs, Causes of Action include (also see attached complaint):
- Breach of Contract.
- Violation of Arizona statute on HOA assessments. R.S. sect. 33-1255.
- Permanent Injunction.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
- Claim work still needs to be done to fix air conditioner, either way.
LAW (with references, no need for blue book citations. This is the most important part, make sure the attorneys can answer any questions from callers on the topic. You can use bullet points):
A.R.S. sect. 33-1255:
- Except for assessments under subsections C, D, E and F of this section, all common expenses shall be assessed against all the units in accordance with the allocations set forth in the declaration pursuant to section 33-1217, subsection A. Any past due common expense assessment or installment bears interest at the rate established by the board subject to the condominium documents.
- Unless otherwise provided for in the declaration all of the following apply:
- Any common expense associated with the maintenance, repair or replacement of a limited common element shall be equally assessed against the units to which the limited common element is assigned.
- Any common expense or portion of a common expense benefitting fewer than all of the units shall be assessed exclusively against the units benefitted.
DETAILED FACTS (tell the story):
“I bought it for cash thinking that if everything went to hell in a handbasket, I could live there,” said resident Francine Hardaway. People purchased the units with the understanding that the building had been recently renovated. “I thought I might lose my safety-net home,” Hardaway said. “I lost my retirement in the last housing crash and recession. I paid $58,000 cash for my Landmark condo, and it’s about all I have to retire to.” If homeowners don’t pay their dues for more than a year, or rack up a debt of $1,200 in missed regular or special assessments, an HOA can foreclose. She rents out the condo.
She banded together with a handful of other Landmark condo owners angry and confused about the unexpected $5 million charge. They all thought fixes to the high rise’s air-conditioning system already had been paid for and were almost done, using about $6 million received in a construction-defect lawsuit settlement in 2013.
By late summer, Danielle Sutton, one of Landmark’s condo owners, hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit to try to stop the $5 million charge. In early October, a few days after the hearing, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in Sutton’s favor, saying the way the assessment was levied violated the Landmark HOA’s rules.
But the controversy isn’t over, former Landmark HOA President Chuck Bressi said. “The work at Landmark still needs to be done and has to be paid for some way,” he said. “I think people had a visceral reaction to the assessment.” The parties are reportedly working together to determine a way to fund the air-conditioning repair.
OTHER FACTS (interesting facts, related facts, trivia, etc.):
SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA
Case number: CV2017-012036
Judge: Brodman, Roger
File Date: 8/31/2017
Case Type: Civil
Clerk of the Superior Court Minute Entries
ARTICLE LINKS (so we can print them out):
MEDIA (less than a 2 minutes FUNNY sound bite. You can include a couple of options. We realize that for some topics there is not much):
“We fought an unfair assessment, and we won,” Hardaway said. “It’s hard to fight an HOA and win. Few people have done it.”
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