Two weeks ago I was asked by Charlie Woehr a resident at the Costa Del Mar to translate for him during a meeting with his lawyer. Charlie was looking for a lawyer to help him out with the continual problems he has had with the CDM HOA board of directors. He was originally going to speak to a lawyer I had never heard of and then it dawned upon me that he should speak to Alvaro Romero. Alvaro Romero is a local lawyer from Guaymas who is now an expert on HOA law in Sonora as well as an expert on the many shady occurrences that happen in regards to the Costa Del Mar HOA. He became an expert on this subject by taking on several cases, and winning them by the way, for another CDM resident who also is disillusioned, for good reason, with the CDM HOA.
Charlie has a specific problem with the HOA that has caused him much stress. And here in itself is a very large issue. Most people who retire to Mexico would like to lead a stress free life. And actually after a conversation with Alvaro the lawyer this is really what the HOA should do for residents within a community. A properly functioning HOA should make life less stressful for residents, not more stressful. This was made clear to me by Alvaro the lawyer.
Why is Charlie upset with the HOA? Well the current problem stems from the fact that Charlie has his boat parked out in front of his house at the moment. According to Charlie this pissed off Ken Unrein, a current board member. So last year that board member tried to write a new bylaw that says you can’t park a boat in front of your house. Now after reviewing all the information Charlie put forth to Alvaro the lawyer the HOA did not properly pass this by law. But for the sake of argument let’s just say that the HOA did in fact get this new by law about parking boats in front of your house legally put into the by laws of the HOA.
The problem is this.The streets at Costa del Mar are public streets. I am sure many who might read this article and live at CDM are going to disagree with me on that but the fact of the matter is I have painstakingly researched this. I have spoken to inspectors for Control Urbano/ Urban Planing in Guaymas and other lawyers besides Alvaro. The streets of Costa del Mar are in fact public streets. To all of you CDM residents out there who doubt that, you are completely within your right’s to believe what ever you wish to believe. You simply are not correct in your belief but more power to ya. Just because your community is gated and you all paid for the streets to be so nice don’t mean ya own the streets!
Now just because the roads are public though doesn’t mean anyone can simply drive a boat into the CDM and park it in front of some one else’s house. Within Sonoran state law there exists preferential rights for those who live in the Costa del Mar in regards to the streets. Costa del Mar residents should and do have preferential treatment in regards to the streets since they live there. So what that means is that Charlie has according to Sonoran State Law all the right in the world to park his boat in front of his house. No CDM by law can trump a Sonoran state law and no Judge in Sonora can tell him he can’t park his boat there. I forget at the moment how much money in fines the CDM HOA is trying to charge Charlie for legally parking his boat in front of his house. I know it is in the thousands of pesos now and might even be in the 10’s of thousands but what ever the fines the HOA are attempting to impose upon him there is absolutely no reason for Charlie to pay those fines. The HOA has not one legal leg to stand on, and that is from a lawyer who has already beaten the HOA board of directors in several law suits. The HOA can not levy fines against anyone for parking their boat in front of their house. For all those HOA bully’s out there all I can say is welcome to Mexico and Mexican law!! Now the same goes for any lot owner who wishes to sell his lot but is not currently up to date on their HOA fees. The HOA can not stop anyone from legally selling their property because of a lack of payment of HOA fees.
Now that in itself is interesting but here is the real bomb shell. During the consultation with the lawyer Alvaro asked me to ask Charlie one simple question. Do you enjoy living at the Costa del Mar? The clear answer for Charlie was a resounding no and what Alvaro explained to him exactly described what I have written about before and that is HOA syndrome. Alvaro described the situation as so. What the HOA has tried to do is form it’s own kingdom with its own rules. And up until recently it has gotten away with much of that agenda. But over the last few years residents have started to seriously look at what is going on out there and to state it mildly are mad as hell and not going to take it any longer.
Alvaro was specific in regards to how the HOA manages it’s monthly dues payments. Remember the HOA is a non profit organization. As such at the end of each year if the HOA has not spent all the money it has taken in then by law they need to return that money to residents. The HOA to the best of my knowledge does not nor has ever done this. They take the extra money that is left over at the end of the year and put it into interest drawing saving’s accounts. Usually in the name of someone on the board of directors. It is Charlie’s contention that Ken Unrein has many different HOA saving’s accounts in his name. No one really seems to know for sure how many accounts there are and how much money is in these accounts since there is a complete lack of transparency out there in this regard.
Now the real bomb shell is this. Alvaro asked a few very sincere questions to Charlie. The first question was this.
When you bought your house at Costa del Mar did anyone ask you if you wanted to join the HOA? The answer of course was no. Are you all ready for the bombshell?
It is not mandatory to be a member of the HOA! It is simply assumed that if you purchase a lot or house that you must be a member but in fact it is not mandatory! Now the fact of the matter is that since Charlie has been paying his monthly HOA fees he has unwittingly joined the HOA even though he has never signed any agreement of membership with them.
The second question is the biggest bombshell of all.
Would you like to no longer be a member of the Costa del Mar HOA?
Charlie answered a resounding yes to this question posed by Alvaro the lawyer. Alvaro explains it very simply. According to Mexican law no one can force you to be a member of an association. Especially if that same association is trying to bully and harass you by making you pay fines that they can not legally impose on you! So all you have to do is write a letter to the HOA board of directors and ask them to vote you out of their HOA! It is that simple. Now if the board of directors refuses to honor your request then you file a formal law suit against them and eventually a judge will have no choice but to rule in your favor. Since as Alvaro has explained it, no one can force you to be a member of any association if you no longer wish to be a member. Boy isn’t the law interesting when you truly understand it.
I wonder how many residents are going to opt out of the CDM HOA once they realize that they don’t have to belong to it?