Condo Owners Left High and Dry

Homeowners' Association is missing money, services -- Who's to blame?

By Lisa Parker
|  Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009  |  Updated 9:00 PM CDT
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Residents Irate Over Missing HOA Money

Tim Graham

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Residents Irate Over Missing HOA Money

Residents of a Willow Springs condo development say they have no hot water for a shower, no way to do laundry and no place to cook.
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It's not the lifestyle residents of a Willow Springs condo development say they had in mind: no hot water for a shower, no way to do laundry, and no place to cook -- unless you count a pot on the patio.

The condo owners say their former association management company took all the money they paid in for utilities and other services and stopped paying their bills.

That company, Van Witz Management, based in Palos Hills and Oak Lawn, and owned by real estate broker Pamela Van Witzenburg, is also the subject of numerous other complaints from building residents around the Chicago area, and is the subject of an investigation by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

A former Van Witz employee said she didn't know anything was amiss inside the company until the phone calls from irate residents started to come in late last year.

"I stopped answering my phone," former employee Jennifer Loesche said. "Buildings started calling us, even unit owners, because insurance companies, cleaners, landscapers, all were starting to knock on owners' doors, saying you know, 'Your company is not paying us, we want our money. You give us the money.'"

Residents said they were not able to find Pamela Van Witzenburg for answers, but many who are in the same boat did find each other on the Web. Discussion boards and some Facebook pages are dedicated to outrage about the association management company and its alleged misdeeds.

How much money is missing? No one can answer that question at this point, in part because in Illinois association management companies are not currently required to register their business practices or financial intake.

A law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last week will change that: starting next year, association managers will have to be licensed.

Van Witzenburg did not return NBC Chicago's calls for comment. A receptionist who answered the phone at a Van Witz office in Oak Lawn said the owner was told by her lawyer she could not answer our questions.

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