CAI Law Firms Fight Back

CAI lawyers in Florida (and most likely elsewhere) are whining about one of the few court decisions that ever favored a homeowner against an HOA. It’s a case where the homeowner wrote a check for $840 with the notation, “in full and final satisfaction (of disputed amount).” The homeowner included a letter with the same basic language.

The HOA attorney instructed his clients to cash the check, but only apply part of it toward the original disputed amount. An Appellate Court has now ruled that since the check was cashed, the HOA cannot go after the $38,000 in additional fees it claimed was owed by the homeowner.

This is another one of those trashy HOA scams that have given the industry such a horrible reputation among American homeowners. If a homeowner claims, rightly or wrongly, that an HOA fine was improperly assessed, the HOA immediately begins tacking on late fees, fines, attorney’s fees, collection costs and interest. Florida law forces the homeowner to pay the most recent fees first. In other words, interest, collection costs, lawyers, fines, late fees, and only then can the homeowner ever repay the original debt.

It’s a beautiful system which has worked well for generations of Mafia families and for low-life debt collectors. While the debtor desperately tries to pay his original debt, the associated fines and interest keep rising, as do legal fees and collections. It’s a daisy chain that’s impossible to break. It’s a massive money maker for lawyers and collections agencies who, while doing absolutely no work, can raise their charges indiscriminately and perpetually until the homeowner is broken. Of course, the HOA prances in and seizes the home which it promptly puts up for auction. The lawyers then begin picking through the estate of the bankrupted homeowner. The system is fundamentally unfair to the individual homeowner who never has a chance to plead for his own day in court.

So in this rare decision where the Court ruled in favor of the homeowner, the tears and gnashing of teeth are being heard throughout the CAI community.

(CAI firm’s warning to the HOA industry)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

1 thought on “CAI Law Firms Fight Back

  1. Deborah Goonan

    The most likely response to this ruling is that HOAs will probably not accept partial payments, even if not endorsed “paid in full.”


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