Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority eyes solution with rogue tenants

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

A delinquent couple living in Aspen affordable housing has given notice that they will settle federal tax-lien payments and sell its property by October, though similar commitments have gone unfulfilled in the past.

Lack of occupancy, unauthorized renters and unpaid dues are among the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s claims against Trevor Nelson, of South Africa, and his wife, Rose-Marie Nelson, who first agreed to sell their Little Ajax Condominiums property in January.

Documents from the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office show that the couple has accumulated $103,198 in unsettled federal tax liens since 2010, though Housing Authority qualifications specialist Julie Kieffer said she believes the couple is working with the Internal Revenue Service to reduce the amount. The couple also has amassed more than $4,000 in unpaid homeowners’ association fees.

Meanwhile, another couple, Kevin and Mary McClure, have met Aspen’s housing-lottery requirements and have been waiting months to purchase the Nelsons’ Category 4, three-bedroom unit at 605 W. Hopkins Ave.

The request to have the situation settled by October came from the McClures, who are living in a rental unit until then, according to Little Ajax Homeowners’ Association Treasurer and Housing Authority board member Ron Erickson.

“Trevor made assurances that he would get it taken care of by the end of May, then by the end of June, then by the end of July, and so far none of that’s happened,” Erickson said, adding that the Nelson couple is nowhere to be found. “(The Housing Authority) always acts on the side of caution. Because we know people’s lives are somewhat messy and don’t fit into a box, we’ve always been relatively lenient.”

At some point, the Housing Authority will have to do something, Erickson added, saying it’s an active item on the agenda.

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 weekend of July 4 and for a few weeks thereafter. He recognized one of the men as the Nelsons’ son, who is in his 20s. Housing Authority Director Tom McCabe said he has heard similar reports.

McCabe said he “is not very encouraged” by what has transpired.

“Of course it’s frustrating, but you don’t throw people out of their homes,” McCabe said. “These things take longer than we would like them to, but the rule of law is a long-standing tradition in America. And it’s complicated, and as more time goes on, it gets more complicated.”

Erickson said every angle has been exercised by the Housing Authority: notices, payment plans and hearings all based on housing guidelines and Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act laws.

“The whole process has been completed, and we’ve gotten him to agree to sell his unit,” Erickson said. “But we can’t force that under the law.”

He said the Housing Authority can take foreclosure action, but that could take years, and even if the authority does take possession of the property, it’s still subject to liens.


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