Aspen housing authority files complaint against rogue couple
October 19, 2014
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, in an attempt to take control of a property, filed a complaint Wednesday in Pitkin County Court against a delinquent couple living in affordable housing, which would allow another couple to move in.
The complaint, filed by Austin Peirce & Smith attorneys on behalf of the housing authority, claims that defendants Trevor T. Nelson, of South Africa, and his wife, Rose-Marie Nelson, are in violation of various owner-related requirements, including a default on a loan.
The housing authority has struggled with a number of claims against the Nelsons in the past year, including lack of occupancy, unauthorized tenants and unpaid dues. The couple first agreed to sell their Little Ajax Condominiums unit, at 605 W. Hopkins Ave., in January.
Another couple, Kevin and Mary McClure, have met Aspen's housing lottery requirements and have been waiting months to purchase the Category 4, three-bedroom unit, all while living in a rental unit.
In July, the Nelsons agreed to settle federal tax-lien payments and sell the property by October. But that commitment, like many before it, has gone unfilled, and the Nelsons are now facing a foreclosure with an outstanding principal balance of $207,582, according to a July 23 notice.
The housing authority has had little to no communication with the Nelsons since January, and attorney Daniel Sullivan said that if the agency can't service the couple, it will seek to conduct court proceedings without them, which would be at the discretion of the judge.
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"We'd like to get it going as soon as possible," Sullivan said.
He added that it's hard to say how long a case like this could take, but he's hoping within a few weeks.
"But, again, it depends on the judge; it depends on the docket; it depends on a number of factors outside of our control," Sullivan said.
According to the filing, the housing authority has requested that a receiver — a court-appointed person who would take custody of the property — be appointed while an action seeking remedies is pending. The complaint recommends Jack Kloenne, a court officer, to act as receiver.
Housing board Chairman Ron Erickson has said in the past that if the housing authority takes control of the property, it will look to rent the unit, possibly to the McClures. According to the complaint, the unit has a monthly rental value of $2,000.
The trouble with the Nelsons started in the summer of 2013 when neighbors spotted two or three different renters — unapproved by the homeowners' association — living in the unit. That year, neighbor Patsy Kurkulis said there was an Aspen Music School student living there with family members.
This summer, Erickson said he spotted "a few young men" living in the unit over the Fourth of July weekend and for a few weeks thereafter. He said he recognized one of the men as the Nelsons' son.
"Due to the defendants' default and breach of the master deed restriction and declaration, including the failure to pay monthly assessments and violations of the occupancy and residency requirements, plaintiff may seek a judgment for collection of unpaid assessments, injunctive relief, specific performance, sale of the Nelson unit, and other remedies at law against the defendants in this matter," the complaint states.