This lovely little garden is costing the condominium owner $50 a day in fines, and it isn’t even expressly forbidden in the condo association by-laws.
Kimberly Bois planted the little garden with her mother, who has since passed away. She was told by her builder that she could do a little planting, but the current condo board has decided that because they want all the units to look the same, she has to remove all the plantings. Every day they stay in the ground, even when they are dead and covered in snow, she racks up another $50 in fines. She now owes almost $6,000 in fines, plus the board’s legal fees.
Now, she has owned this condo since 2008, but the dust-up over her flowers started only six months ago, with the fines not starting until November. As of the last monthly certified letter, she owes $5,800 in fines; that works out to 116 days.
She recently offered to pull up the garden and pay $3,000, all she can afford to pay, but the board rejected the offer. At that point, the bad situation finally trumped her attachment to her mother’s garden and she talked to a realtor friend about selling the condo. Then she found out that the association’s board had placed a lien on her home for the fines and legal fees. If she can sell it, the condo association will get their fines and legal fees off the top… if not, it is possible they can foreclose on the property not too far in the future.
Around the Web, the comment streams on this story are warning of a scam run by condo association boards across the country. The association invents a violation, something that is neither expressly forbidden nor allowed under the by-laws. Usually the owner tries to fight it, which takes time, during which the violation fines build up along with astronomical legal fees. A lien is taken out, the fight drags on, and finally the association forecloses and seizes the property. Fighting the foreclosure will take more money for attorneys that the owner doesn’t have, so they walk away, and the association board sells the property to a new owner.
So, is Kimberly Bois facing this inexorable scam? There’s no way to tell, but she has retained a lawyer.