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HOA sends him 1 dozen-plus parking tickets, but he doesn’t own a car

<i>WANF via CNN Newsource</i><br/>For years
Lawrence, Nakia
WANF via CNN Newsource
For years

By Rachel Polansky

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    NEWNAN, Georgia (WANF) — For years, the Belmont Park Homeowners Association in Coweta County has been sending Roberto Cardenas parking citations for cars parked around his property.

The only problem is, he doesn’t own a car.

Nonetheless, Cardenas paid the fines because he was afraid his local HOA would put a lien on his home.

“It came to the point where I just wanted to sell the house and finish this nightmare,” Cardenas said.

Cases like Cardenas’ are one reason why state Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) has filed three separate pieces of legislation related to HOA reform, their crux being on resolving disputes outside the courtroom and before legal fees start piling up.

At a Belmont Park Homeowners Association meeting last year, residents were told all parking citation fees would be waived and reimbursed. But one year later, Cardenas said he’s still owed $1,700.

While the HOA offered to credit $600 to his account, he said that’s doesn’t come close to refunding the money he’s already paid.

Meanwhile, the Belmont Park HOA told Atlanta News First Investigates it would “review the details” of Cardenas’ situation “and find a solution for his specific case.”.

“Horror stories are happening as we speak,” James said.

Among her proposals is the creation of an ombudsman’s office to handle HOA and homeowner disputes outside the courtroom.

An ombudsman is an official, usually appointed by the government, who investigates complaints and attempts to resolve them.

According to the Community Association Institute, seven states currently have ombudsman’s offices or similar programs for HOAs.

In Georgia, an HOA can put a lien on your home and file for foreclosure as soon as you owe $2,000. Another one of James’ bills focuses on limiting the HOA’s ability to do that. “They definitely don’t need to impose fines,” James said.

James’ bills need to pass out of the state Senate to be considered for further debate in the House; that needs to happen by Crossover Day, Thursday, Feb. 29.

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