Jump to content

Subdivision House Maintenance Problem. Please Assist!


Recommended Posts

Hi, and a Happy Xmas to the Forum.

 

I've been occupied with many things for a few months and so have let posting on the forum slip. However, my wife and I have fallen into a Philippine 'Black Hole' situation which I'm sure has trapped many other people before who are living in subdivisions. In spite of many years experience with the Philippines I 'took my eye off the ball' and have suddenly woken up to a potentially enormous problem. I fully acknowledge that the situation I am going to describe is of my own making and that you could just say 'what an idiot,' but we are all humans and therefore imperfect. I would REALLY appreciate any advice from forum members who have knowledge and/or experience in this area.

 

     My wife and I bought a house in a subdivision called Eastlands four years ago. It is in Liloan, just north of Consolation in Cebu.

We had many problems with the Developer- one of the numerous Tan families of Chinese extraction. In short they made many promises which turned out to be 'hot air' and we didn't make ourselves popular by hounding them until they finally delivered our 'Title' and services. The house is a reasonably sized modern one and we have maintained it to a high standard. We lived there for 4 years until deciding to return to the UK to reoccupy our house there- mainly to ensure a good education for our son. We also found the usual problems experienced by foreigners trying to live in proximity to Filipino neighbours and at the time were quite pleased to get a break from the utter chaos which is the Philippines.

 

     So what is your problem, I hear people patient enough to have read this preamble say? It is this.....

When we returned to the UK we decided not to allow family to live in our house because they would have been unable to maintain it and pay for the services. We know this from previous experience. Like all subdivisions there is a monthly 'Service Charge' which we had to sign up to at the time. Some of the services we got were inadequate or didn't exist. When we left we had been nearly assaulted by a Filipino family across the road who incited their relatives to form a sort of 'lynch mob' because we finally complained about the dreadful noise. So when we went we didn't tell the Subdivision Management that we were leaving and didn't make any arrangement about the 'Service Fee.' (I KNOW- STUPID!-duh!) Frankly we were 'pissed' off with Eastland and not sure when we would be coming back from the UK, if at all. We naively just said that if we decided not to return we would rent out the house or sell it and this would solve any money problems. We also knew that many other houses, mostly with foreigner marriage owners, were being left empty and that many of these people weren't paying any fees to the subdivision.

 

     This is a 'troubled' subdivision, (aren't they all?) The 'Residents Association' never really worked and a succession of Chairmen stole subscription money and buggered off. As far as we know it doesn't function now and Eastlands still controls everything. Recently my wife's sister, who occasionally visits the house to cut the grass, told us that she had found an 'enormous' bill from Eastlands just lying around outside the house on the patio. It was not fully itemised and simply said that we owed Eastlands some 150,000 pesos for unpaid Service charges. (Increasing at a ludicrously high amount every month.)

 

 They are charging us about 550 pesos per month but are adding on increasingly huge amounts of penalties (which are not itemised or explained in any way.) They have made no attempt to contact us in the UK although they could easily do so if they wanted. I would like to mention that we have never been sent any bills or information directly and that presumably the local management has been simply writing 'tatty' bills, which are not itemised or explained properly, and stuffing them through our fence every month for the wind and rain to destroy. We have certainly never seen one before.

 

     Finally alerted to this situation we looked at our Bills of Sale and Subdivision details and discovered the inevitable 'Penalty Clause' section. It seems that they are entitled?? to levy a penalty of up to 1000 pesos for any unpaid bill, on top of the original monthly fee. But here's the really nasty bit. They seem to say that they have also the right to charge an additional 5% of the total bill every month it is unpaid at a compound interest rate!!! Presumably they are simply applying this every month and throwing the bill at our house without notifying us at all as to the situation.

 

    We have been away for about 4 years now and as I said the bill is now 150,000 pesos plus and rising inexorably. It is rapidly approaching an amount we cannot afford to pay.

 

     PLEASE can anyone with knowledge, or experience of this give us any information.? Obviously we are at fault for not arranging to pay the Service Charge when we left. I would also accept that we have to pay the 550 pesos per month and some penalty. I would even accept the extortionate extra 1000 peso per month as a penalty- but this insane compound interest is the huge problem. Do we have ANY rights in Philippine Law? Does the Subdivision owner have the right to do this under Philippine Civil Law? Did he have a legal obligation to ensure that we were aware of this potential financial black hole? He could have contacted us here in the UK if he wanted to. Does he have to ensure that we receive his bills and not just literally throw them at our empty house. There is also the Philippine corruption problem of how to ensure that any money we decide to pay will reach the proper destination and the matter is closed.

 

   We are not rich and will struggle to pay this in full if we have to. I don't want to open us up to another Lawyer black hole which is unthinkable. Any thoughts, please???      Chris McG.

Link to post
Share on other sites

suggest that you inquire on a philippine legal website.

in my previous posts I always suggested that one buy a legal book on 

the civil.criminal code or on property rights..

Perhaps you can review online what rights you*(your wife) have

 

not next week but NOW as it could. cause some problems if you try to rent or sell

 you stated that their had been $$ problems with the RESIDENT ASSOCIATION

would the burden of proof be upon them to prove that you didnt pay?

also what are the "small print" for them to contact you? just a notice on the door?

letter either certified or registered? do they have your UK address?

 

do you think that you did pay and maybe have some old receipts laying around ..cough cough.

 

 

cough cough,,, Recto... 

 

i would suggest .....something more ......but just read the link. :unsure:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/tag/recto-university

 

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/University_of_Recto

Edited by Pittman apartments Sgn
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input,Pittman- including the 'cough, cough' which might not be advisable. You mention Philippine Legal Websites- could you point me to a good one? I really need to know if the Developer has the legal right to extort money in this way. (I do know that that is what lawyers the world over do most of the time.)

Thanks.    C.McG.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

How much is the house and lot worth?

 

Stick someone in there as "squatters".  They have more rights than anyone else.  If all else fails,

 

knock it down so the builder gets nothing but the useless land back.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Support

Is there anyway you could sell the place now?

It was painful to read of your situation. Hopefully there could be a good outcome somehow.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry but I don't really see it as extortion .... not sure about the UK but in the US it is a very common practice to levy fines and or penalties on unpaid bills or debits ..... even some home owner groups will do the same thing .... nor will they go out of their way to find you especially if you have gone to another country and as you said you didn't notify them that you were doing so .... it is a good thing they haven't placed a lien on your house until the bill is paid in full

 

I think the only thing you can hope for is to maybe make a settlement with them or agree to pay them so much extra per month till it is paid off .... the biggest problem I see is you are in the UK and they are in the Phils and any arrangements without you coming back here will be done by correspondences which can lead to another can of worms .... JMHO

:cheersty:  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would read your contract that you signed. Contract law is not the same everywhere but there are some constants. I don't think you will like what you find.

 

I think Kiwi-Alan has a firm grasp of the situation and gave excellent advice.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Manager

Looks to me that you will have no choice but to pay as you have signed a contract that states the fees etc. Do you know anyone living in the area that can go and see Eastlands management on your behalf?

Mike S suggestion of coming to an arrangement with them sounds like a plan, it would be better for all for them to accept a payment plan.

 

Just wondering, you say you have not been back for 4 years, how is the house maintained?

 

Added

I see your wifes sister mows the grass but the place might be full of termites now.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry but I don't really see it as extortion .... not sure about the UK but in the US it is a very common practice to levy fines and or penalties on unpaid bills or debits ..... even some home owner groups will do the same thing .... nor will they go out of their way to find you especially if you have gone to another country and as you said you didn't notify them that you were doing so .... it is a good thing they haven't placed a lien on your house until the bill is paid in full

 

I think the only thing you can hope for is to maybe make a settlement with them or agree to pay them so much extra per month till it is paid off .... the biggest problem I see is you are in the UK and they are in the Phils and any arrangements without you coming back here will be done by correspondences which can lead to another can of worms .... JMHO

:cheersty:  

 

Agreed.  In the US they are notorious for what I call "Nazi" behavior.  It may be at the other end of the spectrum because they go all out to fine you for for leaving trash cans out, mildew on the sidewalks, etc. , in addition to billing late fees.  They can foreclose on your house if you don't pay.  You have to read the find print when you move in.

 

It will be tough to deal with it remotely.  A Philippine attorney might be able to negotiate a settlement, for a fee of course.  The medicine might be worst than the disease!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...