Imagine paying Homeowners' Association dues for years, along with fines, only to find out your property isn't legally a part of the HOA. That's what more than 3 dozen waterfront homeowners in the Bay Port Colony subdivision of Town N' Country discovered.
Neighbors tell 10News WTSP the HOA is holding their boats captive, but now neighbors are fighting back.
“I would like to use my boat and go out on the water,” says Rugh Cline. Right now, Cline’s boat, along with 38 other neighbors are high and dry. That's because the HOA revoked their key access to the Bay Port Colony boat lift to get from the neighborhood canals out to the Bay.
“They said the canal themselves are a community amenity, which we're not entitled to use, which is not true,” says Cline.
It's just one of the battles, along with access through the homeowner lane at the guard gate, in the war waging between the HOA and 39 out of 137 property owners in the subdivision.
“I guess they're called the enemies,” says neighbor Amy Metcalf.
Neighbors like Metcalf have been paying the average $1,200 annual HOA dues for years, but in 2014 they got a letter saying because of a "filing error" the lots "were never properly bound by the original governing documents" of the HOA. The letter went on to say that homeowners "must opt-in" after their "lot has always been assumed to be part of the Association for the past 30+ years" and warning "only members of the Association can use the waterways, boat lift and other amenities."
“I'm under no obligation to pay the HOA,” says Cline.
When asked why Cline feels he and neighbors shouldn’t have to pay and still get the same access, he responds, “I think we're being very reasonable with the Association. The problem is, they won't even talk to us. They forced us to file this lawsuit,” says Cline.
The HOA president, Noah Jacobson, wouldn't talk with 10News either. “I don't consent to doing that. I would ask you to call our attorney,” says Jacobson.
10News’ calls to attorney, Dan Greenberg, and Qualified Property Management went unanswered.
Cline put several pink flamingos in his front yard, back yard, and window to prove the HOA has no say over the holdout homeowners.
“Since we put the flamingos in our yard, we have not heard a single word out of them,” says Cline.
But neighbors hope to end the fight in court.
“We're suing for everything. Basically back-paid dues, the modifications we've made to our property, they didn't have the authority, so I’d like them to reimburse me for that, and I'm looking for a key to the boat lift,” says Cline.
Neighbors also allege in the lawsuit that the HOA knew that the 39 properties weren’t included in the original governing documents for at least 3 years before they alerted homeowners.
“By now, it's the principle of all of it all, the lying, the us versus them mentality,” says Metcalf.
CLICK HERE to read the lawsuit.