Thursday, April 28, 2016

Colorado HB 16-1217: another administrative, mostly unenforceable HOA Bill

We have received several emails that have asked why we haven't been excited about HB 16-1217 (see below).  The presentation of this Bill is that it will change things for home owners; it will implement the significant components of the State HOA Study 2013; and it will improve upon home owner's rights and an ability to resolve HOA disputes out of court.  Unfortunately, none of this is fact and HB 16-1217 is more "feel good" legislation than impacting.  You make the call.  We would like to be more optimistic about HOA legislation this session but the only proposed Bill 16-1133 (simply requiring a receipt for fees assessed home owners) was vetoed.  If you think we are wrong let us know but we get exhausted with HOA Bills that are proposed with no means of enforcement. 

1.  This Bill will use a different methodology to compute HOA registration fees: a per unit fee.  Fine but no particular impact on home owners and the current law appears to authorize this. 

2.  Develop, maintain, and publish a statewide election monitoring referral list consisting of independent contractors who can monitor HOA elections.  First, how will "independence" be determined and who will select the contractor: home owner or HOA Board?  Who are these folks and what qualifies them to monitor HOA elections?  There is no background check on the integrity or experience of these contractors?  There is no certification of contractors as to their HOA educational requirements and HOA law?  The bigger question is who will pay for these contractors and what is the process to get these folks involved in an HOA election?  Who puts the money upfront to pay for these contractors?  The cost of these contractors will most certainly be several thousand dollars to do a thorough job with any report of the election and recommendation for changes mostly unenforceable.  Election irregularities will require the home owner to go to court to get enforced (same as now!).  What happens when the HOA refuses to allow these folks in to oversee an election? These contractors may monitor an election but what authority do they have to demand election procedure changes or when improprieties occur what enforcement authority do they have to demand election results be invalidated and another election occur: back to court?  Thus it appears we will have a list of costly and unvetted election officials that can have little to no experience in HOA matters, have no formal HOA education, have no enforcement authority, will keep HOA disputes in court, will cost home owners, and finally, get this, the law specifically states DORA will place a disclaimer on their site that they do not endorse anyone on the list. 

3.  Require the officer to develop, maintain, and publish a statewide referral list containing the names and contact information for independent contractors who provide mediation or arbitration services on HOA matters.  First, mediation costs and adds time and process to dispute resolution with NO guarantee of a decision and/or a decision that is enforceable.  Licensing HOAs will bring an out of court binding dispute resolution process that is affordable and accessible and we are working on this, not mediation that has failed home owners for decades.  Next, anyone, you, me, the Orkin bug man, can be a mediator: there are no professional mediator standards set by any licensing Board.  The folks on this list will not be required to have any confirmed formal HOA law and/or HOA coursework or history of HOA mediation.  The people on this list will not be vetted except for what they place on a resume.  The list will not provide the cost to the home owner.  If you currently want a mediator you can Google "HOA mediator" and your list will be as vetted as the DORA list.  DORA will disclaim endorsement of any mediator.  The list will not include any information as to what a mediator can accomplish, what is enforceable, indicate that the parties can walk away from an agreement at any time without prejudice (see CCIOA), discuss that the HOA need not attend the session or can walk out of the session at any time leaving the tab to the home owner, etc.  Thus we get a list of unvetted, unlicensed, no guarantee of knowledge of HOA law mediators for you to pay with you hard earned money.  This is the situation today.


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