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My wife and I bought a campground membership (a 1/5000th undivided interest) back in 2000 for $5,000 in north Georgia. We signed a warranty deed and a UDI agreement. We paid for the UDI in full, but never received the warranty deed. As we lived in Atlanta at the time we thought we would use it often. Turns out we did not. We moved away to another state not long after and have not been back to the area now in 14 years. We paid yearly maintenance dues and taxes until they went up sharply (they are now over $850 a year) and they came up with a "levy fee" of $2,000 for each member for them to recoup being sued by the original landowner. We negotiated paying them $50 a month to avoid being put into collections. They now also charge a usage fee of $700 a year (even if you don't use it!) for those who didn't pay the "levy fee".

None of these extra yearly fees were mentioned or referenced in the agreement we signed 14 years ago, or that they could randomly escalate fees (which are now $1,550 plus a year - they were $200 a year).


So now they have said they won't take our $50 a month but want the whole maintenance fees and other fees due for the past 2 years. They put us into collections and put it on our credit (which until now we have had a very high credit score, and this dropped it by 100 points). We sent their collections a letter noting we have not used the campground in 14 years and have no intention of using, and dispute the validity of the letter they sent and to provide complete detailed documentation to support each fee noted in their letter. They sent a reply letter back noting fees for the previous 2 years but left out the $600 in payments that we had made (the $50 a month payment we had been making) and had a copy of the agreement pages we signed. There was a mention of covenants, but we have never seen anything of the sort. 

 

Meanwhile, we have read countless stories online of RVers who have memberships or who have stayed at the resort the past several years who have noted how drastically the campground has gone down - poor roads, loud parties, unmaintained weedy camp sites, closed pool, no staff around. The resort is in bankruptcy and down to less than 300 paying members. 

 

We have tried to sell this worthless membership several times and offered to even give our interest back to the campground, which they have declined and noted that we had to pay past due amounts and then pay them an inflated fee to sell it back to them!

We just want out of this nightmare. When we paid for this campground we had no idea that they would try and bleed us for life! If one were able to get a list of members to contact from the county courthouse, a class action lawsuit could I'm sure easily be arranged.

 

My questions are what are the statue of limitations in Ga. for this type of agreement?

Are filing complaints with the BBB (which they have an F) and the Attorney General's office for Georgia and our state.

What is our next steps other than to get a lawyer? Dispute this with the credit card companies?

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to the nightmare of vacation "ownership" and all that comes with it.  This is no different that a time share really except it is a campground and not a resort. The covenants in these "deals" always include a clause that allows for fee increases and assessments as needed.

 

The reason it has gone down hill is likely that they can't maintain it if the majority of members are not paying their fees.  Where does the money come from to do repairs?

In GA written contracts have a 6 year SOL so they could sue you for this default.  The county courthouse MIGHT have a list of members but you would have to go there and search.  The BBB is useless and nothing more than a fox guarding the hen house.  The AG won't get involved unless there is fraud and so far nothing you have posted suggests that this is anything other than buyer's remorse.  

 

I would start with a lawyer and see what options you have.  You can dispute the trade line but it is probably going to come back verified. 

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First off, you probably should not have sent in the $50 as that might have restarted the SOL.

 

Second, the SOL concerned at this point would be Texas SOL and being in Texas gives you some negotiating power as they cannot take your home or wages if they get a judgement. Even if they got a Georgia Judgement, they would have to go to court again to make it valid in Texas and you might be able to argue that said judgement is not valid in TX leaving them with a worthless GA judgement.

 

What I would do is if the campground is indeed in Bankruptcy, I would contact the Trustee and make a deal with them. Use the fact that with you being in Texas, they would have to go to Texas to try to satisfy the judgement and if they want to play hardball, it could take them years to settle it, OR they can take X% now and let you out of it. This will probably cost you some money and when you do write the check, make sure to write in "Stupid Tax" on the memo line and even copy and frame it so that the next time you look into getting a time share, you look at that check and realize that those are not the best idea.

It sounds like the management company screwed this up and now the BK court is trying to see what they can get out of it. You are going to write a check, the question is, how big.

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First off, you probably should not have sent in the $50 as that might have restarted the SOL.

 

Second, the SOL concerned at this point would be Texas SOL and being in Texas gives you some negotiating power as they cannot take your home or wages if they get a judgement. Even if they got a Georgia Judgement, they would have to go to court again to make it valid in Texas and you might be able to argue that said judgement is not valid in TX leaving them with a worthless GA judgement.

 

This involves owning a piece of a campground which means real estate.  The case has to be in Georgia because that is where the property is.  Regardless of where the OP lives now they are still the owner and the property doesn't move to Texas with them but the ownership does.  Georgia SOL is 6 years.  

 

It is accurate that the judgment would have to be domesticated in Texas to collect which means they cannot garnish wages but domesticating it is relatively easy.  

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Thanks for the comments so far. This is a warning to all to NEVER join a membership campground! There is no mention of covenants or yearly fees in the agreements we signed. Must have been in some paperwork that they kept.

I would not imagine that they had the funds to pursue sueing each member behind in payments as they can't keep the place up to even minimal standards. Have read where even the playground there is rotting. Will still dispute it with the credit bureaus as they don't account for $600 we paid them. May be like poking a stick at a snake until it strikes. The collections agency is in Al to further complicate things. Will pursue a lawyer. Wonder if we paid what is owed and just gift it to a charity if that would be doable. Still, wouldn't want them to enter that hell.

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If the place is in BK, then the BK Trustee has taken over the financials. The Trustee will then look for accounts that have not been paid on and probably hire a collection agency to pursue it as an asset of the BK estate. The campground management itself probably would not have done this which explains the situation.

In fact, I would doubt that the accounting book done by the management company are the best. This is another headache by the BK Trustee because the Trustee has to hire a firm to deal with the books and figure out what is going on. This again is why they have not bothered to go after you until now and this might give you some leverage in negotiating a settlement.

I am doubting any charity will accept your "gift". In fact, I think it would be a horrible thing to do to a charity.

Your best bet again is to contact the BK Trustee (you can find that information in the public BK filings) and negotiate a settlement that gets you out of this. Try to find your original paperwork and read everything. You have some power because:

1) If you were not given the full contract, you might be able to show fraud which although you cannot sue the campground because they are in BK, you can prove doctrine of unclean hands should they try to sue you.

2) Their accounting is so messed up that they probably cannot prove what you owe.

3) You are in Texas and that is where you conduct your financial affairs so they would have to follow Texas rules for attachment of assets. Texas asset attachment rules are some of the most consumer friendly in the nation

I bet you if you were to deal with the Trustee, you would get a settlement that gets you out of this but realize this will not be one phone call done. They have to think that they can get more out of this settlement than they will chasing you and you have to convince them that this is the best for the BK estate.

Good Luck!

  • Like 1
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Thanks WhoCares1000! (I care).

Found out that they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008 in SC. Will pursue looking for the trustee. Don't see any record of new owners, just changed business names a couple of times (probably to throw off all the negative reviews online over the years). The property is also currently listed in the MLS for sale.

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You might want someone to look up the title of the property. If none of the shareholders are listed, you might have a case for fraud since you were promised a warranty deed and it was not delivered. Again, you cannot sue on this but if they come after you, the doctrine of unclean hands might be your friend.

This might also give you leverage against the trustee if the shareholders threaten to stop the sale of the land because it might not be part of the BK estate or threaten the other creditors that if the land is sold, they are first in line for the proceeds.

In fact, if indeed there are $1000s of dollars at play here, it might be worth $200 for 30 minutes of a attorneys time to look this over. They can advise you of what the next step might be and might even be able to stop the collection agency and the trustee. This might be more than a typical debt case here.

 

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Your best bet would be to see if the bank will ignore this IF you settle it. The truth is, you do owe the debt absent of any proof of fraud on the part of the campground. If you settle with the BK trustee, you might be able to get this removed from collections and get the tradeline removed that way. If you cannot come up with a deal, I see a long and protracted court battle in your future.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I found what we signed at it had a vague mention of covenants that were listed at the courthouse but no specifics in the agreement we signed. That is what they mention as to the usage fees they say that we owe. They also didn't account for the $2,400 we had paid in at $50 a mth. the past few years, which we have a record of them cashing each month.

Have read where you can do a quit claim deed to get out of a udi agreement but need a lawyer located in the county where the deed is recorded. Is this true?

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You probably should go to the courthouse and see how the deed is written. I know it is far away but when it comes to negotiations, the side that wins is the side with the most information.

As for a Quit Claim Deed, you are you transferring your interests to? In the sale of property, there has to be a buyer (Grantee) and Seller (Grantor). Did you find someone stupid enough to take this off your hands without you committing fraud? If the only buyer is the BK Estate, then you can be sure they will not take this off your hands without a deal because even they do not want this back.

You got yourself into a bad deal and then you put your head in the sand hoping it will go away. Now it is obvious you need to deal with this. It is going to cost you something. My advice remains the same, ask the bank if they will ignore this tradeline if you get a letter of settlement (many will) and then call the BK Trustee and see if you can come up with a deal.

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And as for transfer deeds, most counties accept them from anywhere as long as you are the current owner and the signature was notarized. In a worse case scenario, if you know someone in GA who will not screw you over, you can give them limited POA to sign the deed themselves.

Each state is a little different on how land records are handled so you need to find out how things are done in GA.

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  • 5 months later...

Know this thread is old but have gotten different responses in this thread and re-visiting the problem again.

Would like to have a real estate attorney look over to see what my next step is. We have gone as far as we can with resolving this and the collections agency continues to call and it is on our credit.

The term "covenants" is mentioned in the contract we signed but no elaboration on. My view is they are trying to collect moneys that are not part of the original contact and is a breach of the contract. Also, never received a warranty deed after paying for our membership in full, and the amount they say we owe does not take into account the $600+ we have paid the last few years.

Am willing to pay $200 if it leads to resolving. My question is should I go with a local real estate attorney or does it ultimately have to be an attorney located in Georgia??

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Since you are now in TEX Google Tex TX-392 laws and read up on them. They will tell you what you can and can not do as far as Tex law. Also, look up my thread on Texas info for various help.

The laws of Texas will do the OP no good. The campground and deed are in Georgia. That is the law that will apply in this case.

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Know this thread is old but have gotten different responses in this thread and re-visiting the problem again. Would like to have a real estate attorney look over to see what my next step is. We have gone as far as we can with resolving this and the collections agency continues to call and it is on our credit. The term "covenants" is mentioned in the contract we signed but no elaboration on. My view is they are trying to collect moneys that are not part of the original contact and is a breach of the contract. Also, never received a warranty deed after paying for our membership in full, and the amount they say we owe does not take into account the $600+ we have paid the last few years. Am willing to pay $200 if it leads to resolving. My question is should I go with a local real estate attorney or does it ultimately have to be an attorney located in Georgia??

You will need one in GA as that is where the deed and property are. The laws of Texas and a lawyer familiar with them will do you no good.

www.lawyers.com has a "find a lawyer" feature where you can search for real estate attorneys in GA. Choose a five star peer rated attorney and you can't go wrong. Twice I did this and got great representation at a reasonable fee.

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Have seen where the campground is now foreclosed on according to recent reviews that say a sign is posted in front of the place. Not sure who owns the supposed debt now, the campground or the collections agency (which resides in another state).

If the campground has been foreclosed on that may be the absolute best thing for you. The collection agency does not own the debt they were simply collecting on behalf of the owners. Once foreclosure happens the bank owns the property and the collection agency can no longer collect for the former owners. I seriously doubt the bank will come after you but I would discuss this with a real estate attorney just to be safe. One will probably do the phone consult for free. My guess is they tell you that it might be best to simply ignore it until the bank contacts you.

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Unfortunately a Texas attorney does not understand Georgia law and Georgia law is what is in place. Besides, a local attorney can have someone do the legwork to determine if a warranty deed was filed with the county. If not, you might have a claim for damages that is more than what the CA is asking.

You really need a Georgia Attorney and preferably, one that is in the same county as the campground.

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Well it would be a whole lot more convenient to deal with a local Texas attorney than a long distance one.

Of course it would but as WhoCares1000 said (and me) you need a GA attorney to deal with this. Really, many will do a consult by phone especially knowing you are now in Texas.

TomNTex is wrong on this one. They can sue you in GA and get a judgment and all they would have to do is domesticate it in TX. While they cannot garnish your wages to collect they can put liens on your current property in Texas and they can levy bank accounts. Collecting would not be that hard once they got a judgment in GA.

If the campground really has been foreclosed I strongly suspect your problems are over. The bank has already lost money foreclosing on the campground they are not likely to throw good money after bad chasing the owners for HOA fees etc.

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I've gotten multiple reports from people who've driven by there about a sign up that states closed due to foreclosure. In addition, there are dumpsters in front with picnic tables and other items in them. How can I find out for sure that the bank or whoever owns it now have no plans to re-open it as a campground again? Can they still come after old members of the previous campground? I don't see how that would be ethical or legal.

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This is why it will be in your best interest to hire a GA Attorney. You would have to go to the county courthouse and look up the deed of the property to see if foreclosure has been completed. If it has, then the bank will own the property and they most likely will see the property.

However, the original owner or the HOA corporation may still own the debt and they still can collect on it. If either entity is in bankruptcy, then the trustee owns the debt and can either sell it or decide that the debt is not worth anything.

A local attorney to Georgia can figure these things out for you and can help you plan the best course of action. It will probably be the best money spent in this case. Armchair or internet lawyers can only go so far and this case is complex enough that you have probably hit the limits of the knowledge of this board.

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