Condo owners learn how to take on HOA - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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Condo owners learn how to take on HOA

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Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2013 6:14 pm

She started looking into her homeowner’s association because she just didn’t think what they were doing to her was fair.

Kathleen Daurio owns a condo at Superstition Lakes Condominiums in Mesa.

Daurio and some fellow condo owners say they were getting violations from the HOA’s board of directors for things like cushions that didn’t match, or a clothing item sitting on a back balcony.

And she says the board didn’t seem to care about her complaints. So, Kathleen let me know how she turned the tables on the board.

She and some other homeowners asked for the board’s financial records. By law, most of those records need to be accessible to the owners who pay the HOA fees.

What she found was startling. She found unusual purchases, all of which were reimbursed with HOA money to board president Michael Cassady.

“I mean, they bought laundry detergent and almonds and vodka and baby wipes and, just about every time, they bought air fresheners,” Kathleen said.

And she said there was no evidence any of those items were used by the condo complex.

Then she looked further and found Cassady was reimbursed for repeated meals out for “board meetings” — at a number of local restaurants. But, she says she and other owners were not informed of those meetings, and they were not invited to them. They also have a clubhouse where those meetings could have been held, she said.

“One of the biggest things was we saw $640 to The Salt Cellar for the annual meeting and there’s three board members,” Kathleen says, noting the charge from the Scottsdale seafood restaurant.

Another receipt she found included $121 worth of alcohol.

She found Cassady was reimbursed for items bought at Lowe’s in New Jersey, where he also lives.

And he got reimbursed with HOA money, for work said to be completed at the complex by an outside firm. But the company that supposedly did the work says it was just an estimate.

In all, Daurio says she found board president Cassady was reimbursed about $38,000 in just two years.

ABC15 tried to get Cassady to sit down with us but he would not answer questions.

After trying to vote the board out with a petition, which the board largely ignored, Kathleen testified when a fellow homeowner decided to take them to court.

Cassady did try to explain many of the reimbursements there.

The judge in the case rejected the homeowner’s’ request for a receiver to take over the HOA’s finances.

But he did demand the board release all financial records to homeowners.

Cynthia Dunham with the Mesa-based Leadership Centre, an organization that educates people about HOAs, says that is the law. It’s also law that you’re notified of any meetings.

If you’ve got issues with your HOA, Dunham — also a former mayor of the town of Gilbert, a post she held from 1997-2001 — suggest first going to your management company with those concerns.

If that doesn’t take care of it, then go to the board.

And if that doesn’t work and you’re thinking about suing, Dunham says first try mediation before court.

I want to know if you have problems with your HOA. Let me know at joe@abc15.com.

• Joe Ducey is now helping people like you everyday on ABC15 News at 6 p.m. If you’ve got a consumer issue you can’t solve, “Let Joe Know.” Contact him at joe@abc15.com or (855) 323-1515.

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