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Homeowner decides to give up costly fight

John Pascual will sell his home in Plantation rather than pay fees to the homeowners association.

John Pascual said he would never pay dues to the homeowners association in Plantation of Carrollwood because he never chose to be a member.

Although he was cheered on by other homeowners who resent paying their assessments, Pascual's defiance led to Plantation filing three foreclosures on his property. If not for the ruling of a sympathetic judge, Pascual stood to lose his $80,000 house in 1997 when an investor bought the home at a courthouse auction for $1,900.

Still, he did not relent.

"He has never made a monthly payment," said Plantation property manager Tom Jones.

Jones said this week the homeowner's association was poised to file yet another foreclosure on Pascual's property before Pascual's attorney called him with a stunning proposition.

If Plantation would postpone the foreclosure for 90 days, Pascual would put his home up for sale and pay the dues, late fees and attorney costs with proceeds from the home sale. It seemed Pascual, the renegade resident, had finally surrendered his long and costly war.

"I could not shake the homeowner's association," Pascual said. "I just got tired of it. I wasn't getting nowhere so I decided to let them have it."

While Pascual confirmed that he is selling the house at 4324 Shadberry Drive, he would not discuss how much he hopes to clear from the sale or where he might relocate.

All along Pascual has declared that he was tricked into buying a house in which he would be required to pay homeowner's association dues. He said when he was considering the purchase in 1987, he told the real estate agent that he did not wish to be a member of the homeowner's association if it involved dues.

Plantation's monthly dues are currently $36.25.

Pascual, 72, contends that he never signed any paperwork agreeing to membership. Nevertheless, Jones maintains that as a homeowner in the deed-restricted community, Pascual is an automatic member and is obliged to pay. Association dues pay for maintainance of the community's parks and common areas.

Several times, the association took legal action against Pascual for non-payment of dues, but he always hired an attorney and came up with the money to get his house back.

In previous foreclosures, the association's attorney would bid on the house at auction and buy it for the amount of Pascual's unpaid dues, then sell it back to Pascual for the dues, plus attorney fees.

But Pascual came to the brink of losing the property in 1997 when investor Fred Watrous outbid Plantation's attorney and bought the house for $1,900. A judge later voided the sale by ruling that it would be a travesty of justice for the elderly man to lose his home in such a manner.

"I'm glad he's leaving if he's that unhappy here," Jones said. "He needs to go somewhere where he can abide by the rules."

The retired aircraft mechanic moved to Plantation from California in 1987. Records show he would have saved a lot more of his nest egg had he paid his dues on time. Over the 13-year period his dues would have amounted to about $4,700, but after late charges, court costs and attorney fees, Pascual paid $10,000, Jones said.

"Our attorney was disappointed to hear the house was for sale," said Jones. "Pascual has been one of his big income producers."

If you have a story about Carrollwood, call Tim Grant at 226-3471.