Condo group sues Aretha Franklin, says she owes $11,000

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — A Bloomfield Township condominium association wants to foreclose on a property owned by legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin for non-payment of more than $11,563 in fees and maintenance assessments.

The lawsuit, filed by the Hills of Lone Pine Association, an exclusive gated community in Bloomfield Hills, names Franklin, Ally Financial Inc. and CitiMortgage Inc. as responsible for the unpaid assessments on a 4,148-square-foot condo valued at $695,380.

Franklin took out a $500,000 mortgage on the property in 1997, according to court records. All 2015 taxes are paid and up to date, county tax records show.

The two mortgage companies hold first and second mortgages on the property, according to the complaint.

While the 73-year-old Franklin is listed as co-owner of the five-bedroom, six and a half bathroom condo, she has another residence in the township that is listed in the court file as the mailing address for tax and court filings sent to Franklin.

An attorney who filed the complaint for the association would not comment on the lawsuit Tuesday or confirm the Queen of Soul is the person delinquent on the assessments.

“It is my property. I don’t live there and feel I have (been) overcharged for years,” Franklin said. “My attorney has been discussing this with them. And I have paid what I felt was credible and legitimate.”

According to the complaint, under Hills of Lone Pine bylaws, the association is authorized to foreclose on the lien and sell the property at sheriff’s auction. The association bylaws also say a receiver may be appointed to collect a reasonable rental of the premises from Franklin or another if she is not occupying the unit.

The outstanding balance on the unit’s account “remains unpaid despite demands for payment” according to a Sept. 30 affidavit signed by Matt Grant, manager of the association. Grant said $6,657.31 is owed in quarterly condominium association assessments through the rest of 2015; $1,200 in maintenance charges; $3,006 in additional assessments; $700 in late charges; and other amounts, including attorney fees, still to be determined.

The lawsuit marks the most recent financial dispute involving Franklin, whose net worth is estimated at $60 million. She began recording as a teenage gospel singer and went on to international commercial acclaim as the Queen of Soul. She has sold more than 75 million records, including chart-topping hits “Respect” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.”

Franklin, who reportedly has managed much of her own financial affairs since the 1989 death of a brother, has been sued over the years by vendors and merchants for non-payment on goods and services.

The multi-Grammy Award-winning artist has received numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2005. She hosts an annual gospel concert/dinner at the New Bethel Baptist Church, founded by her late father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

The lawsuit is assigned to Judge Michael Warren.

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