Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Your Voice: HOA Oversight in Colorado Raises Questions: Part II

This is part two of a two part article on HOA governance in Colorado and the role of a government agency in influencing (or not) HOA law.
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.”

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