Colorado lawmakers should provide alternatives for residents to settle disputes with dysfunctional homeowners associations, the state HOA boss recommends.
Establishing a binding arbitration program and a referral system for mediation were among a half-dozen recommendations that Gary Kujawski, the HOA information officer, recently made to the Colorado General Assembly.
Kujawski was directed by lawmakers to research HOA regulation in other states. He looked at Florida, Nevada and Virginia, which have implemented regulatory agencies for HOAs.
Both a binding arbitration program and mediation to settle HOA disputes, Kujawski said, would provide less expensive and quicker alternatives to the court system.
“Encouraging dialogue and reducing animosity within a community should be a top priority,” Kujawski said in his report. “It has the potential to not only resolve any given dispute but also increases the chance that future disputes will be handled amicably within the HOA, thus potentially avoiding escalation of additional disputes to the center.”
He recommends a fee, to be assessed per HOA unit, to pay for a binding arbitration program.
Kujawski said state oversight is necessary because it’s often too late when homeowners discover they have bought into a neighborhood with a problematic HOA board that engages in selective enforcement of covenants, or meets illegally in secret or rigs elections or increases dues without proper authority or any of the myriad complaints related to HOA governance.
“Few prospective buyers would knowingly choose to purchase a home in a dysfunctional HOA,” he wrote. “The multitude of complaints received by the center attests to the difficulty many homeowners face when an HOA is out of compliance.
“Unfortunately, homeowners discover the majority of problems only after completing the purchase, as the inner dynamics within an HOA are not readily apparent from outside.”
So far, no bills to implement Kujawski’s recommendations are among a handful of HOA-related bills under consideration in the Legislature.
House Bill 1254 would require full disclosure by management companies of all fees.
In another report delivered this month by Kujawski, he summed up the work of the HOA Information and Resource Center in registering HOAs, collecting data and complaints and dispensing information.
(I use the HOA abbreviation to describe all covenant-controlled communities whether they are single family neighborhoods, condo and townhome associations, voluntary improvement associations, or property owners associations. Covenants are rules governing such things as house design, landscaping, paint colors, roofing materials and parking that homeowners voluntarily agree to follow when they buy their homes.)
In Kujawski’s 16-page report, he said the HOA center received 4,767 inquiries in 2013 and processed 1,248 complaints from 327 individuals.
He said 40 percent of all complaints involved community association managers, which seems to reinforce the Legislature’s decision last year to require education, testing and state licensing for managers effective July 1, 2015.
Poor communication seemed to be a common complaint among HOA residents. But the issues raised ran the gamut from issues with dues, special assessments and budgeting to enforcement of covenants and other rules, levying of fines, harassment, poor maintenance and board election issues.
“Many homeowners stated that they were not being kept informed about their HOA,” Kujawski said in his report.
“This includes not receiving notices of board meetings, which effectively precluded their participation.”
Some complaints involved allegations of discrimination, which Kujawski referred to the Division of Civil Rights for investigation. Others related to health and safety issues such as rodent and mold infestations. Still others involved election fraud and HOA boards meeting in private in violation of state law.
Since launching operations in 2011, the HOA office has registered 8,857 HOAs covering 880,326 units, or homes.
Of the total, 773 registered HOAs were from the south-central area that includes Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
In that time, the center has logged more than 10,444 inquiries and processed 2,264 complaints.
A resident of Village on Sprague has had three separate cases within the past month that UPS or FEDEX has delivered a package left on the doorstep. Another resident witnessed a greenish colored SUV casing the development, pulling up in their driveway and taking the package.
FEDEX and UPS have been alerted about the stolen packages and the description of the vehicle. If you have had packages taken or have any other details regarding the green SUV, please contact me.
Village on Sprague Homeowners Association
Board of Directors – Quarterly Meeting
Saturday, November 16th 2013 – Panera Bread
- Lisa started meeting, 5 Board members present.
- Board Members were elected to new roles (Lisa will verify the length of remaining terms per bylaws) :
- Secretary: Kristen Holloway
- President: James Weatherwax
- Vice President: Ken Phiefer
- Treasurer: Pam Hastings
- Board Member: Brooke Torson
- Lisa reviewed Financials:
- Reported that were 8 remaining outstanding Special Assessment Payments
- Lisa reported an expected insurance increase of 15% resulting from our recent claims
- New Business
- Foundation Repair needed for one unit at estimate of $32k
i. Could be covered by reserve, but would completely deplete fund
ii. $42k outstanding insurance payment expected
iii. Foundation repair was tabled until outstanding payment post
- Needed concrete repair estimate from Safford came in at $12k
i. Discussion was had on the concerns of completing repairs before winter weather and plowing
ii. Board approved concrete repair for early spring
1. There are major concerns regarding the large area of sidewalk damage on 146th Street. Lisa will speak with Safford Construction about patching the area until removal and re-pouring can take place.
- Board discussed the need to raise the HOA Fee to cover upcoming expenses including the major foundation repair and concrete repair (still under the local average of ~$160/month for similar services)
i. James moved to increase monthly fees by $10 to $140/month
ii. Brooke seconds
iii. Motion passes – effective January 1st, Lisa will mail out community wide notification
- Old Business
- Ken will deliver memo Lisa prepared to the door of each unit covering:
i. Garbage and Recycle Bins
iii. Parking and Speeding
- The board discussed adding additional speed bumps at the cost of $275 each (2 needed, 1 per lane)
i. Ken tabled discussion until spring
- Next meeting tentatively scheduled for 10am Saturday, February 15th at Panera Bread
- Meeting Adjourned
Village on Sprague Homeowners Annual Meeting
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 @ 6:00
Lisa started meeting-need 13 to have meeting (11 were present, but had enough proxies)
1. Board introduced themselves
2. Looked over financials-pointed out insurance payment. There were no questions.
3. Election of two new officers- Pam Hastings and Kristen Holloway offered. Members present voted to add them to the board.
4. New Business:
· Recyclable: about 50% dislike. Waste Management went to an automation process so the new bins are the only option. Lisa will send out a memo to have all unwanted bins (new and old) for pick up by Waste Management.
· Speed bump: question about putting another speed bump in toward the south end. Lisa will look into price.
· Construction: Question-Did it need to happen? Lisa showed pictures showing damage from water. One building had foundation issues. Cost to association is $32,000. The Association will need to pay for that building. It was the only one found during construction to need additional work. Extra stone that is missing will be replaced next week. Discoloration issues will be fixed within the next 6 months.
***If any questions about construction, please contact property manager, Lisa.
· Lights: One unit’s new lights are loose. Lisa will contact to have it fixed. Back of units and front are different due to cost.
· Dog poop: Lawn care does pick up. Homeowners are responsible for their pets’ waste. If you see someone whose does not pick up pets’ waste, take picture and send to Lisa. She will send a fine to that person.
· Tree trimming: Waiting for cooler weather
· Decks: Homeowners are responsible
· Window broken by hail storm in April: waiting for Millard to get back to Lisa.
5. Meeting adjourned
Seems to be more and more trash bins being left out. Some people don’t seem to mind, others say it’s bad for the neighborhood.
People should have probably been given a choice if they wanted a recycle bin or not. That seems to be when the problem started.