Friday, February 7, 2014

HOA Transfer Fee Provides Rude Example in Civics

Civics: the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works (or doesn’t).  A Bill to rein in the use and abuse of HOA Transfer Fees (a fee assessed by property managers on home sellers simply because they can) offers an ugly lesson in civics.  The Bill started out with legislative support and enthusiasm.  Legislators from both parties were shocked and in disbelief about how the fee had no limit on the amount charged (ranging from $50 to over $1,000), had nothing to do with work perform, the use of the fee was in conflict with the law, and if home sellers didn't pay it they couldn't sell their home.  The Bill to rein in abuse with this fee was on track for wide support.  Then lobbyist from Colorado and Virginia who stood to lose millions if the abusive fee was contained worked the halls of our legislature and DORA (a government agency) to get the Bill killed or watered down.  HOA home owner groups continued to compile and present evidence on the abusive fees to our legislators.  They found support from realtors, property managers, home owners, and even lawyers who were in favor of ending or limiting the fee.  Some legislators even labeled the transfer as "extortion".   Then history repeated itself.  The sponsor of the Bill, who was appalled with HOA Transfer Fee practices, flipped and ignored home owner interests and allowed the lobbyist to not only get the Bill watered down to ensure no change took place but allowed the interest group to direct the total rewrite of the Bill.  The civics lesson in all this is that citizens aren't so much simply apathetic in participating in their government but understand that the system flunks as an example to encourage citizen involvement.   

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