If you live in a Homeowners Association (HOA) you are subject to special assessments with or without your knowledge or approval. Your HOA Board is empowered to levy a special assessment for most any reason at any amount, at any time on each property owner. Special assessments can occur when HOA Boards approve self-interest projects or community beneficial capital improvements, to pay for costly law suits approved by a Board, or to replenish depleted reserve funds due to mismanagement or unexpected expenses. Special assessments can range from hundreds to thousands per household and must be paid. Don't pay the assessment and your financial obligation can compound through interest and administrative charges. Wait too long to pay and your property can be foreclosed. Special assessments can happen without home owner knowledge or approval and without dollar limit and it is all legal.
Colorado State HOA law and HOA governing documents empower Boards to financially manage the community and only indicate they must act in a fiduciary capacity (a statement that is open to a wide range of interpretation with little accountability). Nothing in HOA law requires a Board to discuss, notify, or gain approval through a vote of residents when spending HOA funds on costly endeavors . Boards are also empowered to create enforceable special assessments, no questions asked. Problematic in this issue is that even when special assessments result from Board financial mismanagement, extravagant spending, or reckless decisions home owners only find out about the dire financial consequences after the fact and through their wallets. Unless criminal intent is involved, no Board member will be held accountable
Reining in the independent authority of HOA Boards to spend without the consent of home owners that often results in special assessments will require legislative action. Until this happens, home owners are left with our costly, litigious, and time consuming (pay to play) court system to challenge HOA Board actions and this simply doesn't work for home owners.