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Opinion

August 06. 2014 7:14PM

Their condo was destroyed in shooting that claimed Brentwood officer but couple gets bill for dues and fees

Jim and Susan Maguire saw their Brentwood condominium burn to the ground in May after a distraught neighbor killed a Brentwood police officer and set their two-unit building on fire.

The retirees lost nearly everything — furniture, clothes, two cats, his coin collection and 37 years worth of personal belongings.

One thing they haven’t lost — their condo fees.

Two weeks ago, the couple received a bill from Mill Pond Crossing, the condo association where they had lived for 3 1/2 years before May 12, when Officer Stephen Arkell was shot and killed, and the building was destroyed, the couple said Wednesday.

The bill was for $595 — two months of condo fees plus a $25 late charge. The fees are for June and July, months the Maguires’ condo was an ash heap.

“We don’t understand why we have to pay a condo fee on something that no longer exists,” Jim Maguire said on Wednesday. “You can’t live there. You can’t enjoy the surrounding amenities.”

The manager of the 47-unit development hung up after a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter identified himself and asked to speak to her.

“This is a private matter not to be aired on television,” said Catherine Deloge of Royal Management Co. in Haverhill, Mass.

But a lawyer familiar with state law said the condo association is within its rights to charge the fees.

Maguire acknowledged that the Mill Pond association’s insurance is paying his rental at his current home, the Hampson Town Estates condo. He still thinks the fees are unwarranted.

“We’re not enjoying the place were used to be at. It could be Hawaii, it wouldn’t matter,” Maguire said.He also said he doubts the insurance policy of $75,000 will cover all the family has lost in the fire.

The law appears to be on the side of Mill Pond Crossing’s management.

John Brisson, a Manchester lawyer who frequently represents condominiums, said condo owners don’t have the right to withhold monthly fees, even if problems exist with the property.

Fees are needed to maintain and repair the property, cover taxes and insure the property. He called the Maguire example an extreme.“They (the association) has a right to (charge),” Brisson said. “They also have the right to forgo it and collect it at a future time.”

mhayward@unionleader.com




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