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East County Thursday, Apr. 1, 2010 7 years ago

Ranch HOAs announce automatic debit option

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

APRIL FOOLS — In the wake of several reports of large fines levied by homeowner’s associations, Lakewood Ranch HOA leaders announced plans to launch a new program that will simplify the payment process.

Under the new Fine Unbind program, residents will be able to store their checking account information with their respective HOAs. In the event of a rule violation, HOA leaders will be able to assess the fine and automatically debit the amount from the homeowner’s account.

The new F.U. program, leaders say, will help eliminate situations in which exorbitant interest accrues because of non-payment.

When a participating homeowner is found in violation of an HOA rule, the HOA will send one notice via certified mail of the violation and the fine. The money will be automatically deducted within five business days of the postmark date of the notice.

If the debit is rejected because of insufficient funds, the homeowner will be responsible for any and all bank fees as well as a $500 convenience fee in addition to the original fine.

HOA leaders also are making fine payment easier for homeowners leery of supplying their account information. Using fines already collected, Ranch HOAs will be installing ATM-style kiosks at Town Hall. Homeowners will be able to pay their fines conveniently through these machines, which will take check, debit and all major credit cards.

The new payment options come after several reports of Lakewood Ranch residents paying fines of more than $1,500 because of HOA violations such as having too many decorations in the front yard and placing a small sign on the front of the home. Leaders said the new payment options are the simplest and fairest way to enforce the HOA codes.

Homeowners wishing to take part in the F.U. program can pick up a form at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

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