• HOA boss asks lawmakers for arbitration, mediation to settle disputes

    Fri, February 21, 2014 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski in a March 2013 file photo.

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski in a March 2013 file photo.

    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.

    022114 Side Streets 2(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.

    022114 Side Streets 1“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.

  • BILLS TAKING AIM AT HOAS MOVING THROUGH ASSEMBLY

    Thu, March 21, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

     

    Ryden Carroll X

    While gun control debate has dominated the Colorado General Assembly, work is underway on a few bills dealing with  homeowners associations.

    At the beginning of the 2013 session, legislative leaders talked about plans to rein in rogue HOA boards. A key proposal, by Sen. Morgan Carroll and Rep. Su Ryden, both Aurora Democrats, called for an overhaul of the HOA Information Office and Resource Center.

    Carroll and Ryden want to transform it from a data-collection bureau into a watchdog agency with authority to investigate HOAs and enforce state laws regulating the boards.

    They want to upgrade the role of HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski to make him into what I call an HOA czar charged with investigating alleged HOA infractions and abuse.

    They introduced their plan as House Bill 1134 but the proposal has not come up for debate. It sits in a House committee as its sponsors work to gather support.

    “Some changes are being considered to figure out how we can get the enforcement we want within a budget we can afford,” Carroll said Tuesday.

    Gary Kujawski

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski

    While she may be frustrated at the slow pace of the bill, Carroll said she is encouraged that Kujawski is touring the state, holding a series of town hall meetings to hear for himself the problems being reported by many of the 2 million Coloradans living in 8,300-plus HOAs statewide.

    In fact, Kujawski will visit Colorado Springs on Saturday to talk to area HOA residents about their experiences. (There are no remaining seats available for the event but I’ll report on it in Monday’s Side Streets.)

    “He’s doing a listening tour to understand the scope of the problems,” Carroll said. “By going on the road and hearing the problems and seeing they are real, he’ll be able to come back and explain the depth of the need for enforcement power. It’s crazy not to be able to do anything about all these problems.”

    An unexpected HOA reform bill making progress in the Legislature deals with electric cars and the rights of HOA residents to install charging stations in their condominium complexes.

    The proposal, Senate Bill 126, would make it illegal for an HOA board or any landlord to block installation of a charging station at a tenant’s expense. Carroll said the bill was a response to a problem at a Denver condo complex.

    Under SB 183, HOAs would not be able to fine homeowners whose lawns die because they observe watering restrictions, which are anticipated this summer amid the current drought.

    It also overrides any covenants that demand water-guzzling turf lawns and ban xeriscape  landscaping methods featuring drought-tolerant plants.

    The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

    Colorado Statehouse Photo================

  • HOA BOSS: COMPLAINTS NOT TRIVIAL

    Sat, March 2, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    HOA 2012 regions.

    Are residents of the Pikes Peak region just a bunch of complainers or what?

    For the second consecutive year, Colorado Springs ranks No. 1 in the number of complaints registered with the state HOA Information and Resource Center.

    The news was contained in the recently released annual report of Colorado’s homeowners associations by Gary Kujawski, an attorney who was appointed in late October as the new state HOA Information Officer.

    Kujawski said he doesn’t view the region as whiners.

    “In Colorado Springs, the number of complaints is up there,” Kujawski said. “There could be a number of reasons and it might be a simple case that people there are more aware of this office.

    HOA 2012 pie chart.

    “I’m not sure a lot of people statewide are as aware as people in Colorado Springs.”

    Kujawski’s office is responsible for registering HOAs in Colorado and gathering information for a database on HOAs.

    (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. And covenants are rules governing everything from house design, landscaping, paint colors, roofing materials, parking that homeowners voluntarily agree to follow when they buy their homes.)

    HOA 2012 complaints.

    Since launching operations in 2011, the HOA office has registered 8,347 HOAs covering 853,542 units, or homes. An estimated 2 million Coloradans live in HOA communities.

    Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region are grouped in the South Central region in which 664 HOAs are registered.

    In 2012, the office fielded 2,873 inquiries, of which 576 were complaints lodged by 309 people.

    They range from handling of elections of the board of directors to meeting procedures to conflicts of interest as well as covenant enforcement complaints, fines, liens and foreclosure issues.

    HOA 2012 All Complaints.

    “Of particular concern is the serious nature of many of the complaints received and the inability of homeowners to resolve their issues without resorting to legal channels,” Kujawski wrote in the annual report.

    While some might view the complaints totals as low, given the number of HOA residents in Colorado, Kujawski said he takes them seriously.

    “You can see in the report you don’t have trivial complaints,” he said. “They are serious matters and they affect many people.”

    Repeated complaints of rogue HOA boards and managers led leaders of the Colorado General Assembly to introduce bills aimed at reforming HOA operations. They want to make HOAs operate more professionally and with greater transparency. Some want to restrict the ability of boards to impose large fines and lien homeowners for minor violations.

    There’s even a push to expand Kujawski’s role to police HOAs and enforce state laws on boards found to be violating the law.

    But for now, he is focused on collecting data, listening to complaints and dispensing information about the rights of HOA residents and board members.

    HOA complaints pie.

    And he sees part of his duties as educating the public about the very existence of his office.

    So he’s scheduling a series of town hall meetings around the state to listen to homeowners and discuss issues they are facing.

    “I’m working on some educational materials and refining our system here,” he said. “I want to get input from homeowners directly to find out what they need from our office.”

    In fact, he has scheduled a three-hour public meeting at 9 a.m., Saturday, March 23 at the Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave. in downtown Colorado Springs.

    “I really want to get thoughtful input and get a good discussion going,” Kujawski said. “If necessary, I’ll come down more often, every month or so.”

    So mark your calendars and get to the library early to be sure you get a seat.

    Follow this link to my Jan. 27, 2012, column about the first HOA report.

    To read the associated blog, click here.

    Here’s a link to the full 2012 Annual Report of the HOA Information and Resource Center.

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  • HOAs TO TAKE CENTER STAGE IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

    Sat, January 5, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Incoming Speaker of the Colorado House Mark Ferrandino

    Incoming Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino brings a very personal perspective on homeowners associations to the Colorado General Assembly when it convenes next week.

    He’s not a fan.

    In fact, when I mentioned HOAs to Ferrandino during his newsroom visit Thursday, he had this response:

    “Don’t get me started!”

    Seems the leader of the Colorado House had a rude introduction to life in covenant-protected communities. You know, neighborhoods with volunteers to enforce architectural and landscaping rules to maintain community standards and protect property values.

    “When I lived in an HOA, I thought of my HOA as being paid as part of my mortgage,” Ferrandino said. “Our HOA fees were $25 a month. They didn’t do much so it wasn’t really a lot of money.

    “After living there about six months, I get a notice that there’s a lien on my property. I didn’t realize I wasn’t paying my HOA.”

    The Denver Democrat was echoing a complaint I’ve heard often by folks who felt ambushed by the very existence of an HOA in their new neighborhood and the need to pay dues.

    Ferrandino was shocked that his HOA board would take such a predatory approach to a new neighbor.

    “The president of my HOA wasn’t smart enough to just walk down the street, knock on my door and ask for a check,” said Ferrandino, a fiscal analyst who has a master’s degree in economics. “I could have just written the check for $75.

    “I was good for it.”

    Instead, he ended up spending upwards of $500 to cover the court costs and legal fees associated with satisfying the lien.

    “So you can understand my attitude toward HOAs,” Ferrandino said. “I actively look for areas that do not have HOAs where I will live.”

    It will not surprise anyone, then, that Ferrandino welcomes greater regulation of HOAs, their managers and volunteer boards and expects several bills to be introduced.

    “There needs to be much more accountability and transparency in HOAs,” he said. “We’re supposed to be a democracy. But sometimes they have dictatorial authority within communities.”

    So I asked how he felt about giving the new HOA Information Officer, Gary Kujawski, power to investigate and enforce the 2005 Homeowners Bill of Rights as well as subsequent efforts by lawmakers to rein in HOAs, led by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.

    “I’m open to it,” he said with enthusiasm. “I’d love to see a bill that gives people in HOAs a way to enforce their rights. So they have someone to complain to that can hold HOAs boards and managers accountable.

    “We can pass all the laws we want, but if people don’t have a way to complain and enforce those laws, they aren’t worth the paper we printed the laws on.”

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    Please follow this link to a December 2012  Side Streets column about recent changes in HOA law.

    To read a May 2012 blog about the HOA Information and Resource Center, click here.

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  • SHOULD HOA MANAGERS BE LICENSED, REGULATED BY STATE?

    Wed, November 9, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 5 comments

    Michelle Green

    Michelle Green has worked in the homeowners association management business 15 years. She manages the Flying Horse Homeowners Association as an employee of Hammersmith Management.

     It’s more than just a job overseeing enforcement of covenants, collecting dues and hiring maintenance and landscaping crews.

    Green has devoted many personal hours and money to taking classes and getting certified, by an industry peer review group, in various aspects of the business.

    She’s proven her proficiency at record-keeping, handling financial statements, perusing insurance policies, navigating government regulations of HOAs and more.

    In fact, this week she’s mailing in her final exam for grading as she tries to earn certification as a Professional Community Association Manager, or PCAM, from the Community Associations Institute, a nationwide umbrella group for managers like her. Green is a member of the Southern Colorado Chapter of CAI.

     Achieving PCAM status is the pinnacle of HOA management.

    So it bothers her that a lot of people out there seem to wake up one morning and decide they are HOA managers and start trying to run large associations.

    “Anybody can hang a shingle on the door and call themselves a management company with no previous experience,” Green said. “They’ve got the checkbooks for the associations. They are doing the financials. They should be monitored so associations don’t lose money or get embezzled.”

    In fact, HOA fraud is problem. I’ve written about several HOAs victimized by crooks posing as managers.

    But a more common problem is simple mismanagement by rookies which leads to huge legal and financial disputes within an HOA.

    Complaints against HOAs are so widespread the Colorado General Assembly created the HOA Information and Resource Center to get a handle on the nature and seriousness of the problems. See previous blogs about the HOA office.

    Aaron Acker, HOA Information Officer, spoke to a group of property managers on Feb. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs.

    After nearly a year of taking calls, Aaron Acker, the state HOA information officer, is preparing a report to be delivered to lawmakers during their 2012 legislative session.

    Leaders of the CAI’s Rocky Mountain chapter fear the report to be a less-than-glowing assessment of HOAs. They expect shock and outrage. To minimize the anticipated fallout, they have made a preemptive strike.

    Last week, the Colorado chapter of the CAI asked the state Department of Regulatory Agencies, or DORA, to initiate an investigation of HOA managers to determine if it’s time for them to join manicurists, barbers and boxers among the dozens of professions licensed and regulated by the state. Check out the list of all the professions licensed by the state!

    Green is all for licensing and regulation.

    “It would be beneficial for HOAs and their boards if managers were monitored and licensed,” she said. “Managers are handling thousands of dollars, if not millions. Nail technicians and hair stylists all have licensure. Why should someone managing your homeowners association be any different?”

    Good question.

    I also spoke to Chris Pacetti, a Denver-area manager who is also chairman of the Rocky Mountain CAI’s manager licensing committee. He says the group asked for the investigation by DORA in advance of Acker’s report.

    Pacetti said licensing is not new. Nine states and Washington D.C. have enacted manager licensing or certification standards and seven more states are debating the idea.

    His group envisions a two-prong test for managers.

    One would test an applicant’s skills and knowledge in managing homeowners associations. The other would test for knowledge of Colorado law regarding HOAs.

    They would be similar, Pacetti said, to the tests given for basic certification in the industry.

    For example, to reach the first rung on the property manager certification ladder, Green took a two-day course followed by a 100-question multiple-choice test.

     Then came the CMCA or Certified Manager of Community Associations exam and another 100 questions. After she logged five years in the industry and passed those two tests, she took the AMS to earn accreditation as an Association Management Specialist.

    Now she’s seeking the PMAC.

    Green and Pacetti think it’s reasonable to expect every property manager to have a basic education and command of issues before taking the reins of a homeowners association.

    But it’s not guaranteed that DORA will agree when it concludes its Sunrise study, likely in 120 days or so.

    Attorney Jerry Orten tells me the Legislature studied the issue in 1990 and concluded that new rules were needed to bond managers and protect HOA finances by mandating separate accounts for finances and strict accounting to HOAs of their finances. But lawmakers did not order licensing.

    Orten believes licensing would elevate the overall level of servivce to homeowners, resulting in fewer complaints to the new HOA information office.

    To recommend licensing managers, DORA must decide the request satisfies three key criteria:

    1. Whether the unregulated practice of homeowner association management harms the public and whether potential for harm is easily recognized.
    2. Whether the public needs and can be reasonably expected to benefit from occupational competence.
    3. Whether protection for homeowners can be achieved by other means in a more cost-effective manner.

     In other words, DORA must find that licensing is needed to protect the health safety and welfare of homeowner, that there is a public need and similar benefit is not available by other means.

    Of course, if DORA declines to initiate licensing, individual lawmakers can bypass the agency and simply introduce a bill requiring it.

    Stay tuned, HOA fans!

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  • FINALLY, A PLACE TO REPORT YOUR ROTTEN HOA!!!

    Wed, January 19, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Finally, folks in Colorado have some place to turn besides Side Streets to report a rotten homeowners association!

    The state has opened its HOA Information Office and Resource Center within the Division of Real Estate, which is under the umbrella of DORA — the Department of Regulatory Agencies in Denver.

    The resource center actually invites folks to submit a complaint about their HOAs.

    There’s just one catch . . . the resource center won’t investigate your complaint or your HOA, as I often do. (Nor will some irreverent, sarcastic smarty pants at the resource center write about your HOA as I do.)

    It will simply log your complaint, along with all the others it receives, and report its findings to lawmakers.

    Supporters hope, and critics fear, that it’s the first step toward strict oversight of the 12,000 or so HOAs operating statewide. 

    So far, about 1,200 HOAs and management companies are registered. And you can search the database to see if your HOA is in compliance. It’s important to know if your HOA tries to file a lien against you. If the HOA hasn’t registered, it loses its right to file and enforce liens against its residents, said Marcia Waters, director of the Division of Real Estate.

    In fact, HOA scofflaws may face civil lawsuits if they fail to register, Waters said.

    The center was created in 2010 by the Colorado General Assemblyto get a handle on the growing issue of HOA abuse. 

    Colorado Statehouse

    It is the brainchild of Aurora Democrats Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Morgan Carroll, who introduced and sponsored House Bill 1278 .

    Originally, they envisioned creating an HOA ombudsman with power to investigate allegations of abuse by HOA boards as well as to mediate disputes.

    Ultimately, lawmakers compromised and agreed to create the resource center, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

    It requires each HOA to register with the center, which will gather data on HOAs and track complaints filed by the estimated 1.6 million Coloradans living in associations.

    In addition, the center will serve as a clearinghouse for HOA board members and residents, providing basic information about the rights and responsibilities of property owners related to neighborhood covenants — rules governing everything from paint colors to landscaping and parking.

     The sponsors said the bill was a response to growing complaints from people living in covenant-controlled communities — neighborhoods, condos, townhomes and time-share complexes. Voluntary HOAs aren’t affected by the law.

    The HOA Information and Resource Center is patterned after a state agency in Nevada, created in 1997 to help people resolve HOA disputes besides suing in civil court. Today its ombudsman has a $1.5 million budget and a staff of 15.

    Follow this link to read a previous column on the HOA resource center.

    And this link will take you to an earlier Side Streets blog on the topic.

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  • STAND, BE COUNTED, CASH THE CHECK

    Wed, September 15, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    The U.S. Census Bureau says most of the head-counting is done.

    Now, Pikes Peak-area goverments hope to start counting the tax dollars that will flow our way thanks to the above-average response of folks in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

    About 74 percent of all households in the county responded to 2010 Census forms, exceeding the national average of 72 percent. Officials say that will translate into more federal tax dollars finding their way back to the region.

    El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said each person counted is worth $900, roughly, in tax revenue.

    The Census — conducted every 10 years since 1790 – helps federal lawmakers determine how to distribute $400 billion in federal funding each year. (Whether or not is SHOULD spend all that money is another matter.)

     I’ll simply note the funding pays for things like:

    • Hospitals
    • Schools
    • Senior centers
    • Roads, bridges and other public-works projects
    • Emergency services

    Then there’s the issue of representation in Congress. Seats in the U.S. House follow population. That’s another big reason it’s important to get a full and accurate count. Ditto the Colorado General Assembly. You don’t get your fair share of state representatives if you don’t stand up and be counted.

    Some of the preliminary numbers are fascinating. You can slice and dice them by logging on to the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder  and searching by a variety of ways.

    Here’s  a column I wrote in April 2009 and a previous blog I wrote about it.

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  • UPDATES . . . HOT UPDATES HERE!

    Wed, July 14, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    It took three years, but the furor over the Great Wall of Cascade Avenue appears to be over and it has been lowered to comply with Colorado Springs building codes!

    Disgruntled residents of homeowners associations, or HOAs, will soon have a state agency to turn to for help.

    And the battle for control of the Crystal Park HOA rages on, even after a special meeting appeared to result in a recall vote ousting six board members.

    First, the wall.

    The wall around the Old North End home of Holger and Sally Christiansen has been lowered in response to a judge's order. The city granted the couple permission to let their decorative columns, called pilasters, exceed the maximum wall height of 6 feet. The chainlink gates appear to be temporary in this July 14, 2010, photo.

    It’s been three years since a furor erupted in the Old North End Neighborhood, north of Colorado College, over Holger and Sally Christiansen‘s wall.

    In July 2007, neighbors started complaining to the neighborhood association and the city. Public meetings were held. Hearings. Eventually, the dispute led to lawsuits filed by the city and the couple.

    The Christiansens lost and were ordered to lower the wall to achieve compliance with city codes limiting it to a maximum 6 feet in height.

    They complied. But they received one favor from the city. They were allowed to leave their decorative columns, called finials. They exceed the maximum by about a foot.

    The three-year battle over the wall built by Holger and Sally Christiansen around their Old North End Neighborhood home seems to be over. The wall has been lowered, at a judge's order, to comply with city building codes which set a maximum height of 6 feet. This is a July 14, 2010, photo.

    Here’s a link to an earlier story on the wall.

    And this link will take you to prior blogs on the subject.

    The HOA Information and Resource Center will open Jan. 1, 2011, thanks to action by the Colorado General Assembly.

    Here’s a link to previous columns about the center.

    And this link will take you to blog postings.

    Lastly, Crystal Park remains in a furor over its HOA board of directors.

    After months of campaining, dissidents in the private, gated community succeeded in gathering sufficient votes to oust the board.

    They claimed 184 votes to recall the board. They needed 181 votes for a majority of the 360 members of the community above Manitou Springs.

    Not so fast, said the existing board. It deemed the meeting and vote illegal.

    I’m guessing this puppy ends up in court where only the attorneys will be the winners.

    Here’s a link to an earlier column on Crystal Park.

    Read my related blog post at this link.

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  • STATE WOULD MONITOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS

    Wed, May 12, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

     HOAs Gone Mild

    That’s the goal of House Bill 1278, which passed the Colorado General Assembly on Tuesday. 

    Eventually, at least. 

    First the proposal to create a Homeowners Association Information and Resource Center it must be signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter

    That seems a formality given the bill was sponsored by two Democrats and passed the House on Tuesday on a straight party-line vote. 

    State Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument

    Republicans tried to stop it, led by Rep. Amy Stephens of Monument who called it a “terrible bill” and a “ridiculous” expansion of the state bureaucracy. 

    She said it will lead to “state-run, state-controlled, state-regulated HOAs” and was unnecessary because there has been no outcry for change. 

    Stephens said the bill was a response to a few people in extreme conflict with their HOAs.   

    But Democrats pushed it through, giving victory to its sponsors, Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Morgan Carroll, both of Aurora

    Colorado Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora

    Carroll is a familiar name to folks who follow HOA law in Colorado. She co-sponsored the 2005 Homeowners Bill of Rights

    Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora

     Here’s a link to a blog I wrote recently detailing her work to regulate  HOAs and to rein in the covenants that govern life in the associations.  

    Here’s another link to an interesting blog, HOA Legi-Slate, on the Hindman-Sanchez website where the Denver law firm monitors bills in the General Assembly  including the Ryden-Carroll bill.

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  • Lawmakers take on HOAs GONE WILD!!!

    Wed, April 28, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 2 comments

    Colorado’s General Assembly is taking a hard look at homeowners associations again.

    Starting in 2005, lawmakers began trying to reform HOAs after more and more complaints about abuses by HOA boards surfaced.

    Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora

    Leading the charge then and now is state Sen. Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, who co-sponsored the 2005 Homeowners Bill of Rights which made sweeping changes to how the state’s estimated 12,000 HOAs operate.

    The law, and subsequent amendments, addressed common HOA abuses such as secret meetings, hidden financial documents, mishandling of money, selective enforcement of covenants and hidden meeting minutes.

    Now, Carroll and a fellow Aurora Democrat, Rep. Su Ryden, are trying again to give homeowners help in their battles with HOA boards.

    Colorado Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora

    They have co-sponsored House Bill 1278, which is working its way through the legislature.

    Originally, it would have created an HOA Ombudsman office, similar to a concept pioneered in 1997 by Nevada and subsequently copied by Florida, New Jersey and other states.

    The idea was to give folks a place to get their conflicts resolved through mediation instead of automatically forcing people to sue in civil court.

    Nevada is able to resolve half its complaints without going to court. I wrote about its office in January.

    Here’s a link to my January column about the HOA ombudsman in Nevada.

    And follow this link to my blog related to that column.

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