The Stapleton Homeowners Association that blocked a homeowner from installing a radon mitigation system is now sticking her with the legal fees before she sells her house.
"It's so ludicrous," said homeowner Melissa Crowder. "I am sure they are absolutely embarrassed, and that's their way of getting back to me."
Crowder said she had found a new buyer for her home and was supposed to close in just over a week.
However, Friday morning, the management company for her HOA sent an email to her title company stating she must pay legal fees in the radon mitigation dispute, and they "were in the process of obtaining those figures."
"Right now, they know they have me," said Crowder. "They know I have to close. So what is the number going to be?"
The Harmony Management Group and Stapleton Rowhomes No. 2 did not respond to our request for comment.
Now, Stan Hrincevich with Colorado HOA Forum, an HOA Homeowners' advocacy group, said what the HOA is doing could be fought in court, but most people don't have the time or money, especially right before closing.
"She has been ambushed like so many homeowners with undocumented fees at the time of closing," said Hrincevich, who has been fighting for state regulation of HOAs. "It's called licensing HOAs, and when you get that, you get an out-of-court binding dispute resolution process."
David Firmin, an attorney specializing in HOA law, called the decision to charge Crowder legal fees "shortsighted," but legal under Colorado law.
"While it's permitted under Colorado law, seeking attorney's fees for architectural approval is inappropriate and should not be levied against her account," said Firmin.
Still, Crowder said she is handcuffed.
If she doesn't pay, the HOA could put a lien on her house and stop the sale.
"I'm moving to Park Hill," Crowder said. "I have a contract on a house. There's nothing I can do."