Be careful about buying a Phoenix area home in an unfinished subdivision.

You may find HOA fees increasing and HOA services decreasing when bankrupt builders leave subdivisions unfinished.

At one point, a landscaping contractor who claimed he was owed money by the developer-controlled HOA had his attorney get liens placed on every homeowner’s property.

On another occasion, residents received notice that the community’s water service, paid through their $165-a-month association fee, was scheduled to be shut off the next day for non-payment.

By getting involved, the homeowners were able to get the liens removed and keep the water running, Doxie said.

Still, he said that some HOA services have been eliminated without input from homeowners and that the association has not provided any update about its financial situation since a year ago.

“Nobody has contacted us to this day with any information about what is happening here,” Doxie said.

Richard LaPorta is board treasurer of the San Tan Heights HOA. He said the community’s previous HOA board had a policy of limiting homeowner access to financial information, forbidding residents to copy any documents or remove them from the management office.

Goodman said such policies are commonplace but illegal.

An accompanying article in the Arizona Republic details the disaster at the San Tan Heights HOA.

San Tan Heights

Location: Northern Pinal County.

Founded: 2002.

Developer bankruptcy: 2008.

Problem: Homeowners took control of HOA board in August and discovered it is $1.5 million in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Village at Rio Paseo

Location: Goodyear.

Founded: 2006.

Developer bankruptcy: 2008.

Problem: With just a fraction of planned condominiums built, the developer-controlled HOA has cut back services and failed to communicate with residents.

Cooley Station North

Location: Gilbert.

Founded: 2006.

Developer bankruptcy: 2008.

Problem: Homeowners have seen reductions in HOA services and worsening blight in the form of weeds, half-finished homes, trash and discarded construction materials.