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Idaho Falls veteran fears losing home, asks for compassion


Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include statements from the Homeowners Association that were not available at the time of our initial publication. We have also chosen to remove the original broadcast version of this story because it included unsubstantiated statements from the interview subject; those statements have also been clarified or removed from the article updated May 31, 2024. We would also like to acknowledge Bob Reinisch worked at KIFI in the production department from February 2000 to December 2002.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - An elderly veteran claims homeowner’s association fees could force him out of his longtime residence. The HOA says he is not in danger of losing his home.

Bob Reinisch has lived in the Gem Lake Harbor neighborhood for 23 years.

The Navy veteran was one of Gem Lake Harbor’s first residents. He purchased the lot in 1999 for $34,000 and built a house on it for $334,000. He says he paid for the home by selling his previous house in California for a profit.

“Wouldn’t give it up for the world,” he says about his house. “But I may have to.”

Reinisch says he was told by his homeowner's association that fees wouldn’t start up until the neighborhood’s second phase of construction began. While it took over 20 years, construction has started.

“Right off the bat, we get an (annual) homeowner’s fee of $500,” Reinisch said.

“All fees had been waived until last year,” the Gem Lake Harbor Homeowners Association confirmed in a statement.

There is also a $3,000 special assessment the HOA members approved at the May 18 HOA meeting. That one-time fee will go toward building a new community park.

“The majority of homeowners are excited to have a place for their children and grandchildren to play,” the HOA stated. Other homeowners are very happy that the large area will be cleaned up and maintained in an efficient manner.”

Although Reinisch concedes that he knew the increased HOA fee would eventually be enforced, he now claims ed he cannot afford the fees. He also claims it is in the HOA covenants that a home can be foreclosed on if fees are not paid.

Section 4 Part B of the covenants explains how the association can place liens on a home if assessment fees are not paid, and that legal action can be taken to recover the liens. It also says liens can “continue until the termination of the legal proceedings and the sale of the property under the execution of the judgment establishing the same.”

In a written statement to Local News 8 the HOA says Mr. Reinisch is not in danger of losing his home.

“Mr. Reinisch is simply wrong when he says he’s being forced from his home if he doesn’t pay his share of the assessment. The fact is that Mr. Reinisch can live in his house as long as he wants without paying any assessments."

Local News 8 asked Bob Reinisch if he had developed a plan during the past two decades to pay for fees or assessments once the second phase of construction began.

“No,” he admitted. “But I have one now. I made a proposal to them to exempt veterans over 70 years of age,” he explained.

However, the HOA’s lawyer claims that the idea clashes with its member-approved covenants.

“The CCRs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) do not allow for any assessment exemptions for homes owned by older members or veterans,” the HOA attorney said in an email Reinisch provided to Local News 8. “Special treatment would be unfair to younger members, those physically prohibited from military service such as non-citizens, etc.”

Reinisch hopes claims exempting veterans can still happen.

“What he (the HOA lawyer) failed to include is that there are provisions within the covenants to do it anyhow,” he claimed. “It’s called an ‘amendment to the covenants’ - which requires a two-thirds majority vote, but it can be done.”

While there is not a specifically titled “amendment to covenants” in the HOA document provided by Bob Reinisch, Section Five Part F says the association may “modify or amend this Declaration in any manner consistent with the laws of the State of Idaho,” by “written consent of 2/3 of all of the lot owners.”

Local News 8 has since examined a letter Reinisch sent to HOA members prior to our covering this story. Reinisch provided a copy of his letter to Local News 8 that reads, in part:

“Allow an exemption of fees and assessments for veterans over the age of 70,” it reads, “to avoid any possibility of adverse publicity for the HOA, such as forcing an 80-year-old veteran submarine sailor and his wife out of their home after 23 years.”

Local News 8 will continue to follow this story and provide updates on any resolutions.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Sam Gelfand


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