CALGARY -- Hundreds of homeowners in the northeast community of Skyview Ranch have been handed lawsuits alleging they violated homeowner association rules.
The residents are being sued by the Skyview Ranch Homeowners Association (HOA) for hundreds of dollars each to collect unpaid mandatory annual fees. According to multiple statements of claim filed by the HOA over a period of months, the penalties range from several hundred dollars to nearly $1,100.
“At first I was shocked, then I realized we weren’t the only ones upset about what’s going on in our community,” said Samuel Baker, one homeowner named in a lawsuit. “You can’t see anything that they do around the community.”
Not all Calgary neighbourhoods have a homeowner’s association. People who move to planned developments are usually part of one. It’s a nonprofit corporation responsible for maintaining the community.
Baker moved into the area in 2012. He said the first two years he paid the mandatory fee. The third year the cheque was never cashed and they stopped paying.
“My wife walks our kids to school and on the days that it snows, it’s two or three days before they get shovelled so we’re just like why would we bother paying these people to do nothing really?” said Baker.
Jonathan McKearney, the president of the Skyview Ranch Homeowners Association declined a a request for an on-camera interview, directing CTV to the group's website for information, which states 2020 annual fees have been sent to collections.
In 2019, the annual fee increased from $45 plus GST to $70 plus GST.
In Skyview Ranch, the HOA is responsible for duties including: snow removal on pathways, repair and maintenance of landscaping for all green spaces, maintenance of any entrance features including the Skyview Ranch sign and the annual installation and maintenance of shrub beds and flower planters.
All property owners in Skyview Ranch have an encumbrance to the HOA on their certificate of title.
“It is the responsibility of your lawyer when you purchase a home in Skyview Ranch to inform you of the HOA and the associated fee. It is also the responsibility of your lawyer to advise you of any outstanding HOA fees due on the property,” according to the website.
Homeowners not aware
But some homeowners said they were not aware.
“Actually I didn’t receive any letters from these people but I heard my co-workers who live in this area, so they were talking about there’s an association fee,” said Reve Paragna, another homeowner named in a lawsuit.
According to a statement of claim, Paragna owes the HOA $1072.95, as of Feb. 28, 2020.
“I called them I said okay I’m going to pay but can you just take off the fine or the penalty? They refused.” said Paragna, who still has not paid.
Paragna, along with other homeowners who spoke to CTV said there needs to be better communication from the HOA to remind homeowners of the annual fee. Some said there should be an easier way to pay. Currently automatic payments are not set up.
Many residents said they don’t know where to take their concerns.
The City of Calgary works with community associations but not homeowners associations, which are private organizations.
Homeowners associations are created by the developer of a community and incorporated as a not-for-profit company under the Companies Act, which falls under Service Alberta.
According to the province, there are no regulations specific to HOAs in Alberta. The HOA assumes responsibility for maintenance and control of common land and must abide by the organizations bylaws.
Service Alberta said there is no regulatory board or oversight group for homeowners associations. An HOA has a board of directors elected by members of the association. The province said it is up to to the board and its members to resolve internal disputes.
Baker said he has since paid nearly $1,500 in dues and legal fees.
“We were scared, we didn’t want to lose our house,” said Baker.
None of these cases have gone through the courts.