Saturday, December 27, 2014
When our State legislature and regulatory agency required guidance on writing legislation, guidelines, and ethical standards to implement a new law to mitigate abusive practices in the (PM) industry they relied on the CAI for expertise. Licensing is implemented to protect homeowners against the abusive practices of PMs (the CAI's members) so why the undue influence in writing rules from the very industry that caused the problem in the first place? This is what happens when an organization is accepted to incorrectly represent HOA home owners.
Then there is the CAI's objection to a requirement in the proposed construction defects legislation that mandates home owners vote on the use of their HOA funds prior to the HOA entering into costly litigation. This would effectively decrease the number of HOA law suits, ease of access to HOA bank accounts enjoyed by HOA lawyers, and save HOAs millions each year in litigation costs (but the CAI is only protecting home owner interests, right!)
Just one more example to seal the case on misrepresenting the CAI to be home owner centric. This involves their lobbying efforts with FHA/HUD and the State legislatures to allow the continuance of the abusive HOA home sale Transfer Fee. The fee is charged by, amount determined by and retained by property managers in the sale of a residence in an HOA to prop up PM income: no benefit to the HOA. If not paid at home closing it can preclude the home sale. What else it can preclude is FHA/HUD loan approval/insurance on home sales as HUD doesn't allow the presence of these fees in the home sale transaction. Thus this fee can dampen home sales and the building of affordable housing that benefits from HUD loans.
CPR is not alone in getting who or what the CAI is wrong. The Denver Post, our legislators, television, and other media outlets are all equally wrong. When confronted they seem to be unaware of who or what the CAI represents, their legislative actions, how they make their money, and who are their paying members. Informed and accurate reporting and legislating would ask these questions. Interesting to note that when the media indicates the CAI represents HOAs and home owner's organizations they can't or don't try to identify just one: there aren't any! This ongoing, unquestioning and inaccurate practice of who or what represents home owner's interests is problematic and detrimental to home owner interests and ensures the governance and oversight of HOAs will continue to be skewed against home owners until the media and legislators get it right.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Well government caused the problem by allowing legislation to be mostly written by developers, lawyers, and the Community Association Institute (CAI) to ensure their financial interests were protected. Legislation was written with the absence of any viable means to enforce these laws or HOA governing documents from the home owner's perspective. If government broke the intended good of HOAs and the laws they created they should fix it.
I don't see this particular legislator (and others) directing businesses and interest groups to figure it out for themselves. They are liberal in handing out subsidies to farmers, tax breaks for large corporations, tax rebates and incentives to businesses, imposing tariffs on imports or working to open barriers to free trade, restricting pollutants or chemicals in our food, etc.: all to help "in figuring it out". This attitude about not legislatively helping HOA home owners from abusive practices and basically unenforceable laws is no less than dismissive of home owners and hypocritical.
What HOA home owners are asking for, unlike the help provided to businesses and special interest groups, are remedies that don't cost taxpayers a nickel but save home owners, taxpayers, and HOAs millions each year in legal costs and ensure enforcement of property rights. HOA home owners deserve more respect when asking for legislative support especially when they ask for so little.
Monday, December 15, 2014
If you purchased a home in an HOA (single family dwelling, townhome, condominium) over the past two years and your closing documents indicate an HOA Transfer Fee was assessed, please contact the Colorado HOA Forum firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work with home buyers/sellers to request a refund of this fee and apprise the FHA of this improper fee.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
too often asked as to whether an HOA can do something; “is that against the law”; “but State law
indicates”; or “my HOA governing documents state I have the following rights
but....”. In most cases the questions
reveal a violation of home owner’s rights under the law. The question you
should be asking is the one you really don't want the answer to. You bought your home in the HOA with the
understanding that you give up something (home owner’s rights under the
covenants, controls and restrictions) to get something (a neighborhood with
stable home prices, aesthetically appealing, community amenities, etc.). You understand that an HOA is a local
government of its' own managing the affairs of the community and can collect
dues/fees and penalize non-compliance.
This all seems acceptable as you are protected by a full set of home
owner’s rights to ensure abusive practices are mitigated, financial
accountability is demanded, and governance is executed with open elections,
meetings, and management practices.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Home owners who don't comply with HOA governing documents can be readily fined and even have homes foreclosed upon. Violations by HOA Boards and property managers of State HOA law and HOA governing documents, however, leave home owners in a vulnerable and helpless mode. Home owners' only workable means for enforcing HOA law is our costly, litigious, and time consuming court system that matches the limited funds and time of the home owner against the unlimited financial and professional resources of the HOA. Even the most simple right of a home owner that is violated by an HOA Board such as gaining access to HOA financial records, challenging conflicts of interests or demanding full and accurate documentation on private Board meetings or minutes of home owner meetings requires the home owner to go to court: not hardly a fair or workable means for governing the HOA.
What is needed to make HOA governance and HOA laws effective from both the HOA and home owner's perspective is an out of court binding dispute resolution process. This process in Colorado has been endorsed in a State mandated study on dispute resolution and only awaits legislative sponsors. Implement this system and most HOA Board and property manager complaints related to non-compliance with HOA law will quickly be mitigated. The system will save taxpayer dollars as it takes case load out of the overloaded court system; disputes are paid for by the parties involved in the complaint (not taxpayers); it sets up a fair venue for dispute resolution (one based on facts and merits of a complaint and not based on an ability to pay); lawyers are not required; trained arbiters in HOA law are used ensuring knowledgeable people will conduct and make decisions on complaints; the system is low cost, timely, and provides for a guaranteed decision on any complaint; and no home owner is denied to use the court system if they choose.
So enough with more ineffective and mostly administrative HOA laws. What we need is an enforcement system to make the existing laws enforceable.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Your Voice: FHA May Resolve Insult to Colorado Home Owners by Realtors, Property Managers, and the CAI on HOA Transfer Fees
During its’ push for legislation to end or limit this fee in early 2014, the Colorado HOA Forum, www.coloradohoaforum.com , interviewed CAR. Not only did CAR have a deflective non-opinion status on this fee but had the facts as stated above all wrong concerning this fee. They didn’t realize the excessive amounts charged, who determined and retained the fee, and that the fee was not mandatory. CAR apparently got its’ information not from its’ members but from the Community Association Institute (CAI) whose members pocket these fees each year and worked to oppose, change, and make ineffective this proposed legislation. In an interview with the Denver Post in 2014 CAR couldn’t define its’ stand on Transfer Fees. CAR’s position is a costly and insulting blow to their customer’s bank accounts.
Now the FHA is stepping forward with anticipated new guidelines for approving FHA home loans that would in part put an end to the abusive transfer fee. Specific in their proposal is ending FHA home loans when transfer fees are involved. Let’s hope influence groups such as the National Association of Realtors, CAR, and the CAI don’t get this positive action stopped. These groups have petitioned the FHA to allow transfer fees on HOA home sales. Note, a few years back it appears that the CAI worked to get an exception in Colorado law that made transfer fees on all residential home sales illegal except on, you guessed it, HOA home sales (CAR never objected). Don’t these interest groups whose income depends on home owners understand how insulting it is to continue raiding people’s pocket books with these unjustified fees for their own selfish benefit?
The FHA proposal to end this unwarranted fee on FHA home loans is a beginning to rectifying this financial wrong in the real estate market where the customer (home owner) is not defended by the very folks (Realtors) who depend on them the most and who butter their bread. The Colorado HOA Forum will again work this legislative session to pass a Bill to end or limit this fee.
DORA is also chartered to seek out multiple providers for educational requirements under CAM licensing and to develop testing procedures. To date, and after one year, DORA has not posted on its’ web site the competing educational providers with the CAI remaining the sole source. CAI legislative sponsors promoted the CAI courses and DORA gave tacit approval and to date there has been nothing indicating that DORA has reviewed and certified the courses, that the courses are reflective of current HOA changes in the law, and a process to mandate annual review of such courses will take place. Also, by not early on posting alternative sources for educational classes the CAI can charge what they want and CAMs are left with a sole source of “approved classes?” An unintended (again) promoting of a private company via a government agency.
DORA is now considering allowing the CAI to conduct its’ own testing and grading of exams and granting partial license certification to PMs. This is contradictory to the law that indicates a professional testing company shall complete testing and grading with only DORA granting license certification in part or in full. Furthermore, the oversight, review, and update of CAI class material, testing and grading procedures, and security over such tests have not been reviewed by DORA. We know of no plans to do so. If the CAI request is granted, we will have the same folks (CAI) that have been “leaders” in CAM education and leadership in Colorado for two decades and resulted in the in the need for regulatory oversight be the guiding light in “cleaning-up” the industry. This arrangement (along with CAI involvement in guidelines) is equivalent to allowing a company that is polluting a lake and waterways write their own rules and standards and complete testing of waters for safety, and issue their own licenses. DORA needs to take full control of this program to maintain the integrity of the licensing program.
Then there is the recent event whereby a Bill was proposed to end/limit the unwarranted, unjustified, and illegal (in Colorado) HOA home sale Transfer Fee. Our legislative sources at the Colorado HOA Forum and articles on the CAI legal web site indicate the CAI lobbied hard to defeat this Bill. As a result the Bill was totally diluted into a disclosure law thus ensuring nothing would change and million of dollars would continue into the bank accounts of CAI members. DORA was to address disclosure of all fees and the HOA home sale Transfer Fee in their guidelines for CAM licensing. Not surprisingly, the first release of CAM licensing guidelines included only vague directives on fees disclosure. DORA’s ambiguous and loose disclosure mandates for HOA Transfer Fees don’t require justifying the fee in detail. DORA CAM guidelines don’t mention in disclosure requirements that the HOA Transfer Fee is not mandated by law nor hold up the sale of a home hostage in the event the fee is protested by the seller. Also, with no requirement to justify the fee by cause with an itemized invoice, it will make it difficult for home owners to protest this fee. The opportunity for DORA to protect consumer rights, as their charter indicates, will be missed if fees disclosure of all types are not required to be detailed and justified.
The next test for DORA is coming this legislative session. Our organization will be pursuing legislative sponsors for an out of court binding dispute resolution process for home owner complaints Bill. The CAM licensing program includes a home owner complaint resolution process handled out of court through DORA. Also, a State HOA dispute resolution study completed by DORA endorsed this process. The CAI and legal types, however, oppose this process. DORA will be asked to speak on this issue and if they reject it they are rejecting and invalidating the very work they will be doing under CAM licensing and other licensing programs they administer. DORA should also speak to allegations that this out of court process will result in home owners losing legal rights and the process is as costly as a court appearance: both NOT true.
Citizen trust in our government institutions is at an all time low and HOA home owners need look no further than the examples above to take that trust down another notch. If DORA was fully operating within its’ mission statement (see below) and being an active participant in the legislative and regulatory process there would be no reason for this article:
“DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission.”
Thursday, October 23, 2014
You've seen it before. An industry pollutes or its' practices cheat citizens so much resulting in regulation of the industry. You've also observed the very industry to be regulated writing the rules and getting too involved with the regulatory process. In Colorado the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) implements HOA law, issues HOA property manager licenses, can levy fines for violations, hosts the State HOA Office, and provides oversight.
DORA's independence in HOA legislative proposals and implementing the law raises questions. In particular, their relationship with the with the well financed lobbying organization (the Community Association Institute (CAI)) that represents HOA property managers (also referred to as Community Association Managers (CAMs)) and HOA lawyers. Although we don't suspect any criminal violations or anyone in DORA receiving financial benefit, we do observe events that make the impression that the CAI is influencing regulatory guidelines and legislation at the expense of home owners.
A recent Colorado law licensing CAMs was jaded with DORA's tacit approval of a highly unusual precedent in regulatory legislation. DORA was aware of and never spoke up about questionable verbiage inserted in the law that defined educational requirements. The law listed one provider's (CAI) educational courses to satisfy when other's were known to be available. This is using regulatory legislation to promote a private business! DORA should have made known that they neither reviewed or certified any of the CAI courses since they would be stuck with using them if in the law (even if subsequently they found them to be deficient).
DORA has also been directed to write property manager guidelines. Their proposal seems very much like CAI guidelines that were developed several years arlier. How questionable is it to have the very industry you are regulating write the oversight rules and regulations? Will the dozens of proposed guidelines received by DORA from the public get equal importance?
More in Part II
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Thursday, October 16, 2014
The Denver Post in the past months has published articles on the topic of construction defects and HOAs and the right of home owners to vote on the use of HOA funds prior to the HOA Board entering into costly and potentially financially devastating law suits. The articles misleadingly indicated the CAI represents home owners and HOA organizations. No evidence exists of any HOA organization or their organizing home owners to protect their interests. The CAI opposed any mandate to have home owners vote on the use of their own funds in law suits. Is this pro home owners?
Then there was the CAI's recent opposition to ending/limiting the HOA home sale Transfer Fee that has never been justified and is illegal on all home sales except in HOAs (wonder who got that exception into legislation?). This fee lines the pockets of PMs (not HOAs), costs HOA home owners millions each year, and a PM can charge amounts ranging from $50 to $1150 for like services and the fee can't be negotiated by the home owner (and if not paid the home sale is held up). Does this sound like they represent home owners? Examples abound and can found on our web site www.coloradohoaforum.com
One final thought on this. For the past decades the CAI in Colorado has been the primary if not the sole source on issues of HOA governance, home owner rights, and in writing HOA legislation. They promoted their professionalism, altruism, and oversight of the HOA PM industry and were recognized leaders to our legislators. As a result of their "leadership" and the thousands of PM related home owner complaints received by legislators and the State HOA Office, legislation was passed to clean up the PM industry. Doesn't sound like leadership or protecting HOA home owner rights?
So enough of the CAI misrepresentation. The press and our law makers should seek out the opinions of HOA home owners (organizations) in HOA issues and not simply default to those who profit and have the interests of PMs and lawyers as their focus.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Now that takes care of enforcement of home owner compliance. What about when an HOA Board violates the governing documents or even State HOA law? The rules of enforcement change and home owners begin to understand that enforcement may be a one way street and they are running into oncoming traffic. The only means of enforcement from the home owner's perspective is our costly, litigious, and time consuming court system. Most home owners simply can't afford or compete with the unlimited funds of the HOA and their paid attorneys in even the most simple court case. Yes, lawyers are allowed in Small Claims court. Furthermore, if the home owner loses they most likely will pay the HOA legal costs. Under the current environment of HOA litigation most home owners quickly understand that the cost of pursuing a violation by their Board, management company, or HOA attorney far outweigh the benefits and their chances of justice in a "pay to play" court system preclude pursuing their complaint.
HOA home owner complaints simply don't belong in our court system. They mostly involve violations of HOA governing documents and when pursuing financial losses the amounts are low. The cases are not complicated and should not require lawyers. Such cases unnecessarily add to court work load and costs. What is needed, and has been endorsed by a State sanctioned study on HOA dispute resolution, is the implementation of an out of court binding dispute resolution process. This venue is affordable, accessible, and provides an environment in which facts and fairness trump financial resources. It is also a process that is easy to understand, is expedient and simply involves filing a complaint with the State, the complaint is vetted for substance, and a hearing is completed by a State sanctioned med-arb (mediator with arbiter (decision making) authority) trained in HOA law. If the parties in the complaint can't come to a binding agreement the med-arb will make the binding decision. In affect, this is what happens in a court venue: someone, the judge, makes a decision and it is enforceable. The process has a beginning and end all out of court and affordable. Placing this process into law only awaits legislative sponsors (and overcoming objections from the Community Association Institute (CAI) and lawyers who profit by HOA court actions).
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
We again will face the opposition of the Community Association Institute (CAI), legal community, and property managers in our efforts. These are very well funded lobbyist with a history of obstructing HOA reform and they have many legislators in support of their self serving agenda. Home owner groups must continue in their efforts to dispel the belief in State legislatures that the CAI somehow represents home owner interests: this is the current environment. Once legislators consider home owner organizations opinions and initiatives equal to those of the CAI we can begin to implement HOA reform.
We encourage HOA home owner organizations and individuals in Colorado and throughout the U.S. to continue lobbying their legislators and the media on the need for HOA reform.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Colorado began a road to reform on this fee with the introduction of a Bill in 2014 to limit the fee in amount, require CAMs to justify the reason and amount of fee, and show how they were not already compensated for all Transfer Fee work in their contract with the HOA (which to date they have never done). The Community Association Institute (CAI) effectively killed the Bill and our legislators allowed them to re-write the Bill to preclude any dollar limits, negotiation of fees, or require justification and itemized disclosure of amounts charged. Instead, HOA home owners got the issue pushed to the CAM licensing guidelines in the form of "requesting" the fee be disclosed ensuring nothing will change and it will continue to be a "pay it or you can't sell" situation. The detail of disclosure can be a one liner "Transfer Fee" on a closing statement with no specific explanation or justification. Also tacitly supporting this abusive fee was the Colorado Association of Realtors who refused to take a stand on the fee to help the folks who put bread on their plates: home sellers and buyers.
Our organization, Colorado HOA Forum, will again in 2014-2105 seek legislative sponsors to limit or end this fee. The CAI will also be there to peddle their influence and kill any home owner efforts to end/limit this fee.
Friday, September 12, 2014
HOA home owner apathy is no different than in our general population. What drives apathy in HOA disputes is an inability of home owners to successfully exercise their rights. In Colorado we have many HOA laws and nearly two-thirds of our population live under HOA governance. Home owners encountering problems and simply trying to get their HOA to comply with their own governing documents quickly find out that what is in the law and their by-laws is not always enforceable from the home owners perspective. The number one reason for our HOA laws being basically unenforceable is that they all lack a viable, affordable, and accessible means for dispute resolution except our costly, time consuming, litigious, and “pay to play” court system. This dilemma on HOA governance increases home owner apathy and disengagement but doesn’t dampen individual disenchantment with the HOA living concept.
The solution to enforcement of HOA home owner rights rests with implementing an out of court binding dispute resolution process. A process that is affordable and accessible and has a definite beginning (filing a complaint) and end (a decision). Such a process was recently passed into law for HOA home owner complaints with PMCs that will go into law in July 2015. This process is also used when filing complaints against licensed professions in the State via the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). Why not for HOA home owner complaints?
The State of Colorado completed a study that identified out of court binding dispute resolution for home owner complaints. This process would handle 95% of home owner complaints that involved non-compliance with HOA law and HOA governing documents but not be applicable to felony cases or those over a certain dollar limit in damages. Home owners could still opt to go to court vs this process and thus no one’s legal rights to a court case are forfeited. The process levels the playing field by not requiring lawyers and costly court proceedings, decides cases on current HOA law and HOA governing documents not legal maneuvers in court, allows for home owners to have their “day in court”, provides no advantage to those with financial resources, keeps frivolous complaints out of court, saves home owners and HOAs in court costs, and provides finality to complaints. It is the solution to HOA complaints.
Implementation of an out of court binding dispute resolution process only awaits legislator sponsors in the upcoming Colorado legislative session. I can assure you that those opposed to reform such as the Community Association Institute (CAI), property managers, and HOA lawyers are already at work with their lobbyists, lawyers, and financial influence to stop such HOA reform in Colorado.
Our organization, Colorado HOA Forum, knows your State legislators are finally beginning to understand HOA issues from the home owner’s perspective. They know what should be done but to date have no done it. In the past, legislators only listened to well paid lobbyist such as the CAI to craft legislation and pursue HOA issues. Of course this ensures nothing changes. HOA home owners must contact their legislators asking them to support the State HOA study and implement an out of court binding dispute resolution process. This can easily be done by visiting the Colorado HOA Forum’s web site.
Problems can occur when HOA home buyers/owners are unaware of what services are to be provided by the HOA. Providing this information to home owners prior to closing on the sale of a home and having buyers certify they read it should be a legal requirement. Problems also occur when HOAs mismanage funds resulting in an inability to provide services at a quality level. This includes not funding HOA reserve funds for planned maintenance, using intended maintenance funds inappropriately on Board special projects or on costly and mostly avoidable law suits, over paying and not competing contract work, and just poor financial planning and management with no oversight or accountability. Then there is the problem of HOA dues being too low for too long to deliver services. Another significant and less discussed problem relates to the lack of oversight and control over the property management companies (PMC). In most HOAs, the PMC runs the community and yes this is the tail wagging the financial dog with little oversight or disclosure to home owners. One more but necessarily the last problem is that HOA Boards have almost zero accountability and unlimited authority in making financial decisions for the community without apprising or with the approval of home owners. This includes raising HOA dues, making special assessments, embarking on high cost law suits, and funding special and high cost projects all without home owner approval or having to justify their actions to home owners.
Then there are fees assessed HOA home owners by PMCs that are not in any HOA documents or approved by HOA Boards. For example, the HOA Transfer Fee. This fee is NOT imposed by, determined by, or retained by the HOA but pocketed by the PMC upon the sale of a home in an HOA. No justification or legal requirement is given, the amount is arbitrary ranging from $100 to over $1,000, can’t be negotiated, must be paid or you can’t sell your home, and worst of all you don’t know about the fee until the closing on your home.
HOA fees and financial accountability are an ongoing problem for HOA home owners. Although Colorado has many HOA laws they all lack an ability to hold the HOA Board and/or PMC accountable for financial mismanagement, reckless behavior, or to provide quality services. The laws lack mandates for home owner involvement and approval on spending HOA funds. Home owners are left paying the fees and assessments unless they choose to challenge the HOA in our costly, litigious, time consuming, “pay to play” court system and most simply can not afford this venue. The good news is that most HOAs and PMCs operate with a good degree of integrity but when bad apples arise the financial consequences can be catastrophic and costly to home owners. Until our State laws are modified to empower home owners with a means (out of court binding dispute resolution process) to hold HOA Boards and PMCs accountable home owners will remain vulnerable to financial abuse and unexpected financial obligations.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
A reality check from the home owner's perspective will shock most HOA home owners. If you read these laws you will find that enforcement verbiage from the home owner's perspective is missing, lacking, or unworkable. The main and most widely used means of HOA home owner's rights suggested in Colorado law are mediation and our court system. To date, and from the thousands of inquiries and complaints received by an unknown State HOA Office, these two remedies in dispute resolution have been a failure.
Mediation has been practiced for decades and has at best not served home owners well. Think about it. A home owner must gamble hundreds of dollars on a mediation session (if the HOA is willing to mediate) and there is no guarantee a solution will be reached. Even when there is an agreement an HOA can ignore the agreement and that leaves the home owner back to our court system attempting to gain enforcement or re-litigate their case. Most home owners simply can't gamble hundreds of dollars on a process that has no guaranteed outcome. The Colorado HOA Forum's web site has an extensive discussion on mediation vs other methods of dispute resolution.
Then there is our litigious, time consuming, costly, "pay to play" court system. Most HOA complaints simply don't belong in court. They are simple matters related to such issues as non-compliance with HOA governing documents or State law and complaints against the HOA property management company. HOAs are not adverse to going to court. The HOA understands they use their unlimited funding from HOA dues to fight your limited personal means. The HOA lawyers get paid win or lose. No HOA Board member will be held personally accountable in the event you win. If you lose you end up paying for your lawyer and most likely the costly HOA legal fees. This is a sad venue for justice for home owners and thus most home owners simply don't pursue enforcement of their rights. The track history of too many home owners in court is financially disastrous and thus court should be avoided.
Another means of enforcement is through arbitration and this is mentioned in State law but rarely pursued and not understood. A form of arbitration called med-arb (mediation-arbitration) allows for conducting a mediation session with a definite and enforceable outcome: a beginning and end in the complaint process. Basically, if the parties can't agree to a solution the empowered mediator - arbiter will decide for them. Actually this not different from our court system in which the judge decides for the parties but avoids the high cost, litigious processes and procedures, mitigates the time to litigate, and doesn't require lawyers. It ends the "pay to play" legal venue and saves both home owner and HOA the expense of litigating and saves taxpayer money by removing these cases from our already over burdened system. No legal rights are forfeited by home owners as they can still opt to go to court. This process is being pursued in several States and most recently has been advocated in a Colorado State mandated report on HOA dispute resolution. Implementation only requires legislative sponsorship. Med-arb is a recognized legal process and in fact a similar process will be used in handling home owner complaints against Colorado HOA property managers upon implementation of the property manager licensing law in 2015. If this is good enough for property manager complaints why not for home owner vs HOA complaints.
Until HOA home owners get an out of court binding dispute resolution process such as med-arb our State HOA laws remain more of an illusion of home owner protection than realtity.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Our group, Colorado HOA Forum, www.coloradohoaforum.com , will again begin our efforts to gain legislative sponsors to reform HOA governance. This should be a somewhat easy task with over two thirds of Coloradans living under HOA governance, with thousands of complaints received by the State HOA Office, and equal amounts of emails and telephone calls received by legislators about HOA concerns. However, opposition groups are well funded and influential in our State legislature.
This is an election year and HOA home owners need to ask their legislators questions about who they represent in HOA issues. HOA issues for this voting group affect their lives financially, legally, and socially as much if not more than any issue.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are comprised of three entities:
home owners, HOA Boards and their legal counsel, and the property management
company (PMC). Problems can arise from any of these but for those who
follow HOA issues the involvement of PMCs can be most problematic. PMCs affect
HOA governance with their direct involvement in operational and financial
matters and through their trade organization, the Community Association Institute
(CAI), which has undue influence in HOA legislative activities that craft HOA
law. For decades the sole source for Homeowners Association (HOA)
information for the media and the State Legislature has been the CAI. Why
not? Their name implies they represent the concerns of community
associations and home owners: aka HOAs. Legislators "trust"
this organization to represent home owners and citizen interests but most have
no idea who or what they represent. Legislators actually think their
membership and funding comes from HOA home owners and HOAs: WRONG.
They have trusted this organization for decades and have allowed them to
set the rules in HOA governance and financial management. Yes, they
craft the legislation that sets the rules for their industry and interests and
ensure through their actions that HOA State law and HOA governing documents are
highly enforceable from the HOA Board’s and PMC perspective and very weak for
home owners. Due to this close relationship between the CAI and legislators
across the country, HOA legislative reform has been very difficult and the few
Bills that have passed have been watered, are more cosmetic than effective, and
in no way help with enforcing home owner’s right
Friday, June 6, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Most HOA dues and assessments are legitimate and support the operations and maintenance of the community. It is also true that what one home owner doesn't pay in dues others must make up for so reasonable penalties are appropriate. However, the abusive and reckless authority of some HOA Boards in (mis)managing a community are weakly constrained by HOA governing documents or State law. These ruling documents mostly require home owners to contest HOA Board behavior and burdensome assessments in our costly, litigious, and time consuming court system. Thus HOA law enforcement from the home owners perspective involves the limited financial resources of a home owner against the unlimited bank account of the HOA: a pay to play legal system favoring HOA Boards.
The HOA living environment can provide home owners with a rewarding life style. Most communities involve some form of HOA governance and it is mostly impossible to buy a home in a new development without an HOA. Understanding HOA governance and home owner's rights and financial responsibilities prior to moving into an HOA is incumbent upon the home buyer and will mitigate post purchase problems.