Saturday, November 28, 2015

HOA and Property Manager (CAM) Complaints: Speak Out

The HOA Property Manager (aka Community Association Manager (CAM)) licensing law was fully implemented July 15, 2015.  This law provides home owners a chance to help clean-up abusive industry practices and provide a forum for home owners to rein in violations of State law and HOA governing documents.  HB 13-1277 is the licensing law.
The complaint process involves an on-line/web application and is fully explained in our Complaint Guide and should not take more than 15-20 minutes.  Since the State HOA Office has no investigative or enforcement authority we suggest you direct all your HOA problems that you want investigated to DORA under the licensing law.  The State HOA Office can also be apprised.
Several CAM violations stand out and we ask you and your fellow home owners to pursue via a complaint: 1) CAM is not licensed (simple lookup on your part) 2) violations in conducting elections, meetings, extremely poor property maintenance, records release(items a,b,and/or c below)  and 3) charging HOA Transfer Fees (items “a” and “c” below).  All are applicable to CAM complaints.  Each one requires a separate complaint.
The explanation of your CAM complaint involves: 1) a description of your problem including how you understand it violates your rights.  Include one or more of the below statements extracted from the licensing law to support your complaint.  2) Evidence such as you paid a Transfer Fee documented on your home closing papers, your request for documents has been refused, etc.
Supporting all complaints should be your documentation including an email informing BOTH the HOA Board and CAM of your problem, allow 7-10 days for resolution and if not resolved file a complaint. If you need guidance let us know.  Complaints are confidential with DORA.
Let’s all participate to surface problems and hold violators accountable.
Extracts from CAM Licensing Law:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Colorado HOA Forum's Winter Edition Newsletter Posted on Web Site

The Colorado HOA Forum,, Colorado's largest HOA home owner organization has posted its' Winter 2015 newsletter on its' web site.  This edition focuses on the implementation of the new HOA Property Manager (aka Community Association Manager (CA)) licensing program, HOA Transfer Fees, HOA and CAM dispute resolution and complaint filing with the State, and a host of other HOA issues.  An overview of the Forum's latest HOA Town Hall Meeting from November 12 in Aurora, CO is presented indicating what is of concern to HOA home owner's.  Keep in touch with HOA current events, HOA legislation, and home owner's issues with this easily accessed newsletter.  This is Colorado's only HOA periodical presenting HOA issues from the home owner's perspective.  Those wishing to subscribe to this free newsletter can join on the Forum's web site. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Colorado HOA Property Manager Licensing: make it effective and not burdensome

The HOA Property Manager Licensing Law HB 15-1343 has now been fully implemented and some obvious weaknesses and flaws exist that should be addressed.  Two issues stand out that need attention: changes to the law and DORA's administration of the law.  This posting addresses changes to the law.
Community Association Manager (CAM aks HOA Property Manager) law:
The law requires small HOA CAMs to pay and complete the same requirements as mega-CAMs.  This has caused CAMs serving small HOAs (in particular in rural communities) to end their services: the financial burden was too much.  Relief should provided in the law, similar to small HOA registration requirements, to reduce educational and other fees requirements but NOT eliminate them for those CAMs serving less than a total of 25 units.
This law, similar to HB 14-1254, Disclosure of Fees, was supposed to require full disclosure of any fees assessed and/or collected by a CAM (from the HOA or home owner).  DORA has allowed this to be defined as a one-liner in a contract or on home closing documents with no detail, no receipt to the home owner, no justification of the fee, and no mention that the CAM, not the HOA, determines the amount of the fee and retains it.  Disclosure is particularly important when CAMs assess HOA Transfer Fees that average $350 on the sale of an HOA home and provide no legal basis, receipt, or work justification.  Disclosure must be not only required in detail but clearly defined what detailed disclosure means.  Any fee assessed home owners, in particular the Transfer Fee, must be in compliance with State law SB 11-234 that authorizes and limits this fee. Note this law can't limit the amount of, refund, or adjust a fee but it is a first step in reining in this abusive fee.
The CAM law needs to be more clearly defined and strengthened to include requirements that CAMs must comply with State laws and the HOAs own governing documents.  DORA has refused to include explicit rules and the law should be updated to clearly include:
        CAMs must comply with all State HOA laws and with the governing documents of the HOA they serve and knowingly violating or being aware of such violations is subject to fines and/or revocation of license.
       If a CAM is aware of an HOA Board being in non-compliance with State HOA law or their own governing documents they must immediately advise the Board and their legal representation of such non-compliance and suggested corrective action;  if the corrective is not taken the CAM must apprise both Board and the HOA's legal representation in writing of such violation and recommended corrective action;  if corrective action is not taken within seven days after CAM notification, the CAM will notify DORA and the HOA's legal representation.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Questionable HOA Fees Costing Home Owners Millions

If you closed on a home in an HOA you most likely noticed a few line items that are, well, just there.  Ask for an explanation of the fee and your Realtor in many cases has no idea what it is for, how the fee was determined, or who is charging and retaining it.  Worse yet you get no receipt or detailed invoice but are simply instructed to pay it or the home sale will not be completed.  Then there is another fee home owners pay and have no particular details about it: a Document Processing Fee.  You might be told it is a cost incurred by the Title company to provide the buyer documents about the HOA.  Still no receipt on who "really" receives the fee and what work was completed to earn it.  This practice robotically continues on tens of thousands of home sales each year not because it is all legal or mandated but "because it can" and our legislators dodge the issue at the cost of millions to home owners
The first fee is an HOA Transfer fee retained by and amount determined by the HOA Property Manager (Community Association Manager (CAM)).  The HOA doesn't require it and in most cases has no idea about this fee.  The fee is in actuality a "double" billing for services already paid for by the home owner via their HOA dues to the CAM: issuing a final bill (Status Letter) to the home owner showing any outstanding/delinquent dues or other obligations: providing copies of HOA governing documents (mostly in electronic form); and charges to change names on administrative records.  The fee is actually illegal based on State law, SB 11-234.  The law states this fee can only be charged to recover unreimbursed expenses by a CAM in the sale of a home.  Thus, why are home owners paying on average $300-350 in Transfer Fees when all the "justification" (based on work performed) for the fee has already been paid for by the home owner?

The Document Processing Fee, charged by the Title Company, makes some sense as it is charged to mostly cover the costs of acquiring from the CAM and providing to the home owner the Status Letter and governing documents.  Title Companies must register this process and fee with the State.  In some cases the CAM charges the Title Company a fee thus hitting the "trifecta" by being paid three times for the same services.

The Colorado legislature, along with the consent of DORA (Dept of Regulatory Agencies), passed a CAM licensing law and HB, 1254 Disclosure of Fees, to rein in this abusive fee.  The sponsors of both laws (highly influenced by CAM lobbyist) and DORA in writing licensing rules avoided requiring CAMs to justify the Transfer Fee.  No requirement to identify exactly what the unreimbursed costs related to the sale of a home were that justified the fee; did not require CAMs to document their services justifying the fee by other than a one liner on a home closing statement with amount; did not provide home owners a means to dispute the cost; allowed for unlimited amounts in the fee to over $1,000 without any means for home owners to contest; and didn't address the deceptive practice of CAMs duplicate and triplicate billing home owners.  In summary, home owners to continue to pay, CAMs continue to be enriched, and our legislators will again be asked to pass legislation to require legal justification of the fee and to limit the amount.