El Paso Woman to Sue Abusive Condo Association

March 29, 2017

K-Sue Park (915) 585-5121 (o); (609) 947-1627 (m); kpark@trla.org
Nancy Nusser (512) 374-2764 (o); (410) 934-9588 (m); nnusser@trla.org

March 29, 2017 EL PASO, Texas – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) today will announce its intention to file suit on behalf of an 86-year-old El Paso woman on the brink of losing her home because of a complex, condo association late-fee scheme.

At the age of 67, Maria Nuñez Ojeda, of 1644 Lomaland, bought a condo to live in and by 2012 she had paid it off. On a monthly income of about $800, she subsequently paid $240 in monthly condo fees and an additional “special assessment” fee once a year. After she was late paying her 2015 “special assessment” fee, her condo association charged her late fees of $90 every month for 17 months in a row; the fees were charged even though she paid the 2015 special assessment fee a few months after it was due and never missed her monthly condo fees payment during that period. Her condo association initiated foreclosure last fall because of about $1,300 in debt, primarily in late fees. In January, the condo association sold her $85,746 home for $4,183. If she cannot redeem the property by next week, she will lose over $80,000 in equity in the home that she invested in for her old age.

“This condo association is effectively forcing Ms. Nunez out her home and into homelessness, after she diligently invested so much into the condo and her community,” said K-Sue Park, the TRLA attorney representing Ms. Nuñez. “It’s outrageous that a condo association would throw an elderly person into the streets, simply because she was late on one payment. A late-fee scheme like this is an unconscionable debt trap.”

This problem – of abusive foreclosures, excessive fees, and hyper-aggressive enforcement lawsuits that generate high debts from attorney fees – exists across Texas.

Beanie Aedolph, a prominent homeowners’ rights activist, said, “Even when owners manage to avoid foreclosure, the extraordinary fees – which can total several thousands of dollars after attorneys get involved – can create extraordinary hardships. During this legislative session, Texas lawmakers are considering bills that could reduce these and other abuses by associations and condominiums.”

The press conference will be held at 11 a.m. on, Wednesday, March 29 at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s offices at 1331 Texas Ave., El Paso, TX 79901. Ms. Nuñez, as well as TRLA attorney Park, will be available for questions from media.