NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Rancho Bernardo homeowner in dispute with HOA over repairs 

Rancho Bernardo Condo 2
Rancho Bernardo Condo
Posted at 3:00 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 13:08:58-04

RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (KGTV) — A Rancho Bernardo homeowner said a dispute with her homeowners association left her condo with multiple cracks throughout her property and unfinished work.

Team 10 got involved when the homeowner, Tonga Moore, said the situation was at a standstill.

Moore showed Team 10 the damage throughout her condo, which included multiple cracks on both levels of her property.

She moved into the condo in 2015.

“There was nothing visible when I bought the place. All they told me was the concrete was messed up in the backyard and there’s a slope issue because the wall was leaning,” Moore said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, the HOA is going to take care of that. Don’t worry.’”

Moore said the problems started after her HOA authorized a foundation lift project in 2019 for several properties. She said after that, some cracks started to appear right away.

“Those little cracks started getting bigger,” Moore said.

She pointed to one large crack through her kitchen wall. “It’s been growing ever since,” Moore said.

Doors in her condo do not fully close and the cabinets in her kitchen cannot fully open because of the unevenness in her home, Moore said. “I suffer in silence because I cannot wrap my brain around what's going on because it doesn't make sense to me."

She told Team 10 that the HOA, the Tierra Del Sol at Bernardo Heights Owners’ Association, will not pay what she said is the fair cost to fix her property.

Alison Greiner, the attorney for the HOA, said they are “diligently working to resolve this matter with Ms. Moore.”

She said at the time the exterior work was completed at the end of 2019, “an estimate was obtained to make all the necessary repairs to the interior.”

Greiner said the homeowner is responsible for those repairs and they provided Moore the money.

That’s where Moore disagrees. She said the money they offered was not enough. According to Moore, they were supposed to fix things back to the way it was before the project—something she emphasized in her emails to the HOA.

Moore confirmed the HOA initially gave her a little more than $14,000 for the damage between 2019 and mid-2020. In July 2020, a check was issued for around $11,700 for the windows and sliding door. She did not cash the checks because she believed she was being shortchanged.

“I want them to come and fix the structural damage that was caused by what they did. If you're going to say you're going to repair things like for like, I want them to really come in and do what they said,” Moore said.

An estimate Moore received from one company placed repairs inside her home at more than $55,000. Other estimates came back higher,

One neighbor, who did not want to share her name for privacy concerns, confirmed to Team 10 that the damage to her home from the project was fixed by early 2020. She said she was fully reimbursed at an amount higher than Moore’s initial offer.

In recent months, the HOA gave Moore a separate amount of more than $21,000, but she said they would not re-issue the previous checks.

“[I’m] struggling, struggling to get through all of this,” Moore said. “This is too much for something that should have been so simple, in my opinion.”

When Team 10 questioned Tierra Del Sol’s attorney about the previous checks not cashed—ones that Moore said the HOA would not re-issue—Greiner gave Team 10 a different answer.

“If the checks need to be re-issued because they have expired, the Association will re-issue the checks,” Greiner confirmed.

Moore said that is the first time she has ever heard that.

“If the association [is] taking responsibility for the repair and that repair causes additional damage, then, under those circumstances, it could be that the association is responsible for that,” said attorney Dan Zimberoff.

Zimberoff is not involved in this case, but he has represented HOAs and property owners. He said it is typically in the best interest of both sides to work together and that mediation is an option.

“If this is an adversarial relationship or as treated as an adversarial relationship, it's much more expensive. It's much more time-consuming and it creates a lot of animosity,” Zimberoff said.

Moore said the inside flooring was recently redone and fixed, but there is so much work left to be finished.

Recently, the City of San Diego issued a citation for the work not completed which has resulted in code violations. The HOA and Moore are named as responsible parties. The city confirmed the case is still active.

Moore said of all the condos involved in this 2019 foundation lift project, hers is the only one not completed.

She confirmed that after Team 10 started asking questions, the HOA scheduled an engineer to come to her home.

Greiner said they are actively working with the City of San Diego to address the citation.