Couple could be forced out of condo unit | AspenTimes.com

Couple could be forced out of condo unit

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

A delinquent couple living in Aspen affordable housing is now facing foreclosure, and though another family has been waiting months to buy the unit, the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority may need to force the couple's hand to resolve the situation.

Lack of occupancy, unauthorized tenants and unpaid dues are among the 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 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 now the Nelsons are facing a foreclosure with an outstanding principal balance of $207,582, according to a July 23 notice. Though no one at the housing authority has heard from the Nelsons recently — communication has been sporadic for months — Kevin McClure said he's had a few interactions with the couple.

His impression is that they are ready to sell; however, he knows there are complications associated with debt on the property. Though he and his wife have not been encouraged by what's transpired in the past year, he said they are hopeful.

"The board has been super sympathetic in trying to figure out ways to help us out," McClure said. "We're still under contract to buy the place, and the Nelsons, in the few conversations that have gone on, are still anxious to sell. As far as we know, they're trying to clear things up so that it can be sold."

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Housing board Chairman Ron Erickson said the Nelsons have dealt with foreclosure proceedings in the past and little has changed. He explained that the housing authority is preparing to move forward with a receivership lawsuit in an attempt to take control of the property.

The Nelsons could not be reached for comment.

If the housing office takes ownership, it could then put a tenant in the unit, possibly the McClures, and rent could be used to offset outstanding debts against the property. But a local judge would have to sign off on the request for receivership first.

Either way, Erickson said the McClures have priority on the next Category 4, three-bedroom unit that becomes available. However, he said the couple would have to relinquish their contract on the Little Ajax unit.

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 recognized one of the men as the Nelsons' son.

Erickson, who also lives at Little Ajax, said he will most likely recuse himself on any vote concerning potential action against the Nelsons.

"We'd love to get this thing moving forward, and we all feel for the McClures, and we've done what we can within our authority to help them out as much as we can," Erickson said. "But we don't own that property, and there's nothing we can do about it. It's just such a bizarre situation. It's never happened before."

herk@aspentimes.com