Friday, January 22, 2016

Community Association Institute (CAI) Will Play Whack a Mole in Opposing HOA CAM Accountability in HB 16-1133

HB 16-1133, HOA Manager Professional Responsibility and Disclosure, will be considered in the 2016 legislative session.  It will propose modifications to the HOA Property Manager Licensing Bill and will again surface the obstructive efforts by the Community Association Institute (CAI) in HOA and HOA Community Association Manager (CAMs) Licensing reform: but we hope not.  The Bill will also address problems with DORA administering the law and developing effective CAM operating rules.
Up front in this Bill:  Adds no additional regulation or government reporting requirements,  no new taxpayer contributions, no new fees or burdens to business, does not preclude CAMs from charging any justified fee, and doesn’t interfere with CAM or HOA operations.
In this Bill:  1) direct and definitive statements addressing requirements that CAMs comply with State HOA law and HOA governing documents  2) defines requirements for full disclosure of CAM fees and in particular for HOA Transfer Fees and addresses the problems of excessive fees and duplicate (and triplicate) charging for services already paid for with HOA dues  3) requires CAMs to provide a specifically detailed hardcopy receipt to all payees  4) provides financial relief for the smallest HOA CAMs in reduced fees and educational requirements but still requires they be licensed  6) requires DORA to provide improved transparency and functionality on their web site concerning CAM information and violations.
Opposition from the CAI is expected, again, in the form of empty and non-substantive arguments (just statements and declarations) that contend no changes are needed and all the issues in this proposal are already in the Bill (for whom?).
The CAI will oppose requirements to justify the CAM HOA Transfer Fee and other CAM billings.  This Bill doesn’t limit the amount of any fee or preclude charging any fee but requires meaningfully explaining, justifying, and receipting any fee.  It does begin to rein in the abusive Transfer Fee charged to sellers upon the sale of a home.  Specifically, what other business can bill a home owner and not provide justification based on work performed, not provide a detailed receipt, bill any amount with no questions asked, leave the consumer with no means to contest the bill or its’ amount, no requirement to comply with State restrictions of billing under the law, duplicate bill the home owner (and even triplicate) for services already paid for with HOA dues, and if the home owner doesn’t pay can’t close on their home?   The answer is easy: NONE.  The CAM licensing Bill was supposed to specifically define requirements on justification, legality, and documentation and it did a lame job at it ensuring this questionable CAM billing practices would continue.   The transparency and real disclosure in this Bill will not interfere with any collection of a CAM fee as long as justified and legal.
The fight for financial relief for small CAMs in this Bill was not supported by the CAI in the last legislative session. The cost of a license for small CAMs can equal a year’s income: it’s abusive and burdensome.  Previous misinformation spread was that the goal was to exempt small CAMs from being licensed: not true, never in any proposal but believed by too many.  This Bill provides fairness and relief to small business with reduced fees and educational requirements commensurate with knowledge to legally and competently service small HOAs of 30 or less units.  Educational providers are able to offer small HOA CAM courses at a reduced cost.  Costs for DORA to implement should be covered in the same manner as completed when the total licensing law was implemented.
This Bill also contains specifics on actions and requirements to comply with State law and HOA governing documents that are now ambiguous in the law.  Of importance is the requirement for a CAM to notify the HOA Board if they are in non-compliance with the law, suggest a corrective action, and if the Board continues their actions report the event to DORA.  This documents the event for potential home owner action and also protects the CAM from a complaint that they were complicit.  Will the CAI object to clarification on this issue to make accountability better defined?
HB 16-1133 simply makes the licensing law effective for home owners with no new burdens on business.  It defines accountability, transparency, and fairness that are lacking in the law and required for enforcement.  The objections to improvements in CAM licensing through this Bill will become the CAI’s latest whack-a-mole game in which they float  empty and deflective arguments to slam down any initiative that pops up for real HOA reform and CAM accountability.
Note: the CAI is an organization representing CAMs and HOA legal interests which comprise their membership.

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