Q: Can attorney charge $300 collection and attorney fees for $180 of HOA owed in Maryland?
I was out of the state temporarily and at which I missed 2 quarter HOA payment for January and April 2019 fees at $90 each for a total of $180. Upon returning in June, I found out I have mails about my delinquent account. I immediately tried to resolved it following up with the HOA management company that told me I could not be allowed to make the payment to follow up with an attorney office. Now, the attorney is threatening lien on my property despite my explanation and willingness to pay the dues. I was told I must cover the addition $300 plus in collection and attorney fees as well. I just want to understand any law relating to this situation. Thanks for any assistance you are able to render.
A: Typically HOA documents say that homeowners will pay costs of collection, including reasonable attorney fees, for any past due accounts.
Maryland's Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys requires that attorneys fees be reasonable based on the time and labor and complexity involved. See RULE 19-301.5 The scenario doesn't describe what attorney work was included in the $300 charge, or how much time was involved, but it is not unreasonable to ask any attorney presenting a bill for an itemized statement.
If after review of any documentation you have further questions regarding the reasonableness of a specific fee, you may consider reaching out to the Maryland State Bar Association Committee on Resolution of Fee Disputes.
While the above is not legal advice nor a commentary on the reasonableness of any other attorney's billing practice, I hope that it helps answer your question.
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