• 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.

  • Digital HOA communication network a valuable way to reach Black Forest fire victims

    Mon, June 24, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    El Paso County District 1 commissioner Darryl Glenn, far right, speaks to the public during a press conference on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at the Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range campus. Photo by Junfu Han. The Gazette.

    El Paso County District 1 commissioner Darryl Glenn, far right, speaks to the public during a press conference on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at the Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range campus. Photo by Junfu Han. The Gazette.

    When El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn reached out to homeowners associations to communicate with victims of the Black Forest fire, he was tapping into a powerful network.

    Over the years, many HOAs have built active websites and thorough databases of email addresses and phone numbers. Many use chat rooms to discuss issues. They have Facebook pages to reach people. They send out email blasts. And they’ve conditioned residents to check in frequently online to stay in touch.

    That wasn’t always true.

    About 10 years ago, longtime neighborhood activist Jan Doran had the vision that HOA websites and databases could be valuable tools for reaching their residents. And they could be leveraged to link various HOAs so one group could see what the others are doing.

    As president of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, or CONO, Jan encouraged HOAs to start building these digital networks. CONO is a volunteer group of HOA members who lobby the city and advocate for issues important to neighborhoods, especially in development issues and city planning.

    “It has always been my vision for HOAs to be talking to people they represent and to be talking to each other,” Jan said. “That’s how it all started.”

    Longtime Colorado Springs neighborhood activist Jan Doran in a 2013 file photo.

    Longtime Colorado Springs neighborhood activist Jan Doran in a 2013 file photo.

    Glenn recognized that power when he urged folks, while the Black Forest fire was still burning, to email him at darrylglenn@elpasoco.com, and get on his list as he built his grassroots network. He was taking advantage of the infrastructure Jan and CONO are largely responsible for building.

    Glenn described it as a no-brainer to harness the HOA communication network when disaster struck in Black Forest, destroying 509 homes and killing two people.

    In coming months and years, the county will need to stay in touch with families that have scattered in search of temporary housing. There will be lengthy discussions about rebuilding in the forest and myriad issues to debate.

    “We need an efficient way to disseminate information,” Glenn told me. “And we need boots on the ground telling us what’s happening in the neighborhoods.

    “But you can’t do anything until you have a way to communicate.”

    Glenn said the county will continue to rely on newspapers and television news to get the word out about fire recovery efforts and issues facing homeowners.

    “But we are going to use all forms of communication,” he said. “We wanted to put a big net around the burn area so we have a reliable communication network. We want to get them involved and engaged early, so when it comes time to rebuild, restore and recover, they have a seat at the table on Day One.”

    Since issuing his call at a several news briefings on the fire, more than 100 HOAs and individual neighborhood residents have responded, signing up to be part of Glenn’s network.

    He noted that many of the tiny subdivisions across Black Forest have inactive HOAs or none at all.

    “This is an excellent opportunity for them to establish a neighborhood network,” he said.

    That’s just as Jan Doran envisioned it: Neighbors getting together to talk, help each other, work with their elected leaders and solve problems.

    “It just makes,” she said, “all the sense in the world.”

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  • HOA BOSS TALKS REGULATIONS AT TOWN HALL

    Mon, March 25, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    . UPDATE . NEW. VIDEO .

    We have achieved video from HOA boss Gary Kujawski‘s town hall meeting on Saturday.

    Follow this link to a YouTube video of the first 90 minutes or so.

    To see the second portion of the meeting, click here.

    Finally, the third portion is visible here.

    I don’t expect the video to go viral or anything. But don’t look for it to viral like some “Gangnam Style” clip.

    HOA MEETING 009

    .

    The new state HOA boss wants Colorado Springs residents to know he’ll help them any way he can in their dealings with their homeowners associations.

    But he won’t give them legal advice or investigate allegations of rogue boards, illegal elections, secret meetings, unfair covenant enforcement or discrimination because the  Colorado General Assembly hasn’t given him that authority.

    Yet.

    That could change depending on what lawmakers do with several pending bills. And about 75 people ignored the snow Saturday morning to spend three hours talking about the possibilities with Gary Kujawski, the HOA Information Officer.

    Kujawski outlined the duties of his  HOA Information Office and Resource Center — mainly registering HOAs, dispensing information about the laws governing HOA boards and managers, and fielding complaints.

    And he tried to gauge audience interest in proposals before the Legislature, such as House Bill 1134, a major bill that would expand his office and grant him investigative and enforcement powers.

    For example, a large majority of those in attendance agreed there is a need for mandatory licensing and bonding of professional HOA managers and their companies.

    But no real consensus emerged over the idea to require mediation in HOA disputes or to create a referee system for dispute resolution.

    Other ideas included creating an online rating system of HOAs and management companies, and allowing for monitoring of elections and term limits for board members.

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski discussed possible regulation of homeowners association during a three-hour town hall meeting Saturday.

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski discussed possible regulation of homeowners association during a three-hour town hall meeting Saturday.

    The session was a wide-ranging conversation that at times was a how-to-govern workshop and other times a question-and-answer session.

    Many in the crowd were experienced HOA board members who were defensive of complaints and challenged the need for state regulation of their activities. Others were residents who complained of the need to punish rogue boards.

    Early in the meeting, one man in the crowd demanded to know: “What’s prompting all this talk that HOAs are such demons?”

    Another attendee said she “takes exception” to the notion all HOAs are run by control freaks who simply want to punish people and steal from residents.

    Many seemed surprised when Kujawski told them his background as a longtime HOA resident and board member. In fact, he was president of a large HOA because: “I was afraid to get off the board, afraid of what would happen in the community.”

    In his new role, however, Kujawski said he is neutral on HOA issues.

    “I am not a member of a consumer advocacy group or a trade group,” he said, insisting that no one in state government wants to regulate HOAs “just for the sake of regulation.”

    But he gets 25 calls a day, on average, from folks with questions and complaints. Some are frivolous and can be resolved by simple conversations, he said.

    “But a lot of people call me in tears,” Kujawski said. “They are dealing with some tough issues. They are frustrated. Some are complicated problems and they need legal counsel.”

    As expected, many in the crowd wanted advice on their personal problems with HOAs, such as a woman who said her HOA president is a dictator who adjourns meetings, sends everyone home, locks the doors then “finishes the meeting in the dark.”

    Kujawski said some of the horror stories are extreme and are examples of the types of cases he might investigate and take enforcement action against if lawmakers decided to grant him the authority.

    Some in the audience were upset they had to register their HOAs every year and pay dues, about $16 this year. Others noted just 309 individuals filed complaints with the office in 2012 and suggested there was no need for regulation given upwards of 2 million Coloradans live in 8,300-plus HOAs statewide.

    But Kujawski noted that few callers bother to file formal complaints since there’s nothing he can do for them.

    And Kujawski promised to return in May or June for another town hall meeting, in perhaps a larger venue with a panel of experts to field more questions.

    Attendees on Saturday gave him warm applause at the end and generally praised his presentation.

    “It was really valuable,” said Eric Fitz. “If nothing else, now we know where to go for help.”

    That opinion was shared by Marylyn Massey, who gave Kujawski a written complaint about her HOA after the meeting.

    “I learned a tremendous amount today,” she said. “It was very helpful. And I’m hoping to talk to him about my concerns with my HOA at the Arbors at Mountain Shadows.”

    Kujawski also urged everyone to stay tuned to action in the final weeks of the General Assembly because he expects several HOA-related bills to come up for debate and action.

    Be sure to read Side Streets for updates on all HOA legislation.

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski discussed possible regulation of homeowners association during a three-hour town hall meeting Saturday.

    Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski discussed possible regulation of homeowners association during a three-hour town hall meeting Saturday.

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  • 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================

  • JURY SLAPS HOA IN SECONDHAND SMOKE DISPUTE

    Wed, March 13, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    smoker

    Smoking has been banned from most public buildings. It is forbidden in restaurants and bars. It is outlawed in airplanes and generally is socially unacceptable.

    Is the battle of the butts now coming to homeowners associations? Don’t HOAs have enough to worry about already?

    Better add it to the list, I’m afraid, of issues facing the boards and management companies of HOAs.

    Consider this: A jury in Orange County, Calif., has found an HOA board negligent for failing to resolve a secondhand smoke dispute between neighbors at a  condominium.

    The dispute involved a couple upset that their neighbors smoked heavily on their patio and sidewalk. The couple said the smoke aggravated their son’s asthma. Eventually, the family moved to escape the smoke and sued in March 2011.

    After a five-week trial, jurors recently awarded the smoke-averse family $15,500, finding the condo association and management failed to ensure the non-smoking family’s right to the “quiet enjoyment” of their own unit.

    The family received $6,000 was for economic damages and $9,500 for emotional distress. The HOA was responsible for 60 percent of the damages, with the remainder to be paid by the management company and tenants.

    Smoke has been an issue in the Colorado Springs area.

    Side Streets has featured a neighborhood dispute over smoke from cigars and cigarettes infiltrating a neighboring townhome.

    I’ve written about hospital employees angering neighbors by puffing on nearby sidewalks.

    Another column focused on smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace choking a neighbor in her home.

    And I even wrote about smoke from a backyard fire pit igniting a neighborhood feud.

    Follow this link to the entire Orange County Register story.

    About 35 feet separate the chimney of Rachel Catt's rental home on Jon Street, left, from neighbor Luanne Wiley's home on Corbett Lane on the right. Neighbors say the wood-burning stove inside produces choking smoke that infiltrates Wiley's home.

    About 35 feet separate the chimney of Rachel Catt’s rental home on Jon Street, left, from neighbor Luanne Wiley’s home on Corbett Lane on the right. Neighbors say the wood-burning stove inside produces choking smoke that infiltrates Wiley’s home.

    .

    This link takes you to a Side Streets column on Oct. 11, 2012,  about a dispute over a smoking chimney.

    To read about the smoking dispute between residents of Boulder Park neighborhood and the employees and patients of  Memorial Hospital, click here.

    To read more about the 2008 smoke feud at the Woodbridge Townhomes in Colorado Springs, click here.

    Follow this link to my 2006 column about the fire pit feud.

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  • HOA GOES BANKRUPT FIGHTING OBAMA SIGN

    Mon, February 11, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with 9 comments

    Sam and Maria Farran. Photo courtesy The Washington Post

    Homeowners associations can get into big trouble by picking the wrong fight with the wrong homeowner.

    Want to infringe on someone’s First Amendment rights? Think you can bully someone into taking down a political sign because they disagree with your politics? HOA boards need to be careful who they pick on.

    Check out this story in the Washington Post.

    It tells how an HOA board in the Olde Belhaven community in Washington D.C., picked a fight with Sam and Maria Farran over an Obama for President sign they put in their yard  in 2008.

    The sign was  four inches taller than the maximum limit allowed by the association’s rules. One HOA board member, Don Hughes, took a hardline stance against the couple. He wrote a letter threatening to ask the HOA board to put a lien on their townhome unless they complied.

    But Sam and Maria Farra refused to take it down. They argued their right to display the sign was protected by the Constitution. The board initiated fines in the hundreds of dollars. The couple sued, calling the fines vindictive.

    Now, more than four years later, the HOA is being forced to pay Sam and Maria Farra’s legal costs as well as their own. The tab is $400,000 and the legal battle has ruined the HOA’s finances.

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  • HOA CZAR ON AGENDA FOR 2013 GENERAL ASSEMBLY

    Mon, January 7, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with 2 comments

    Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora and incoming Senate Majority Leader

    When Sen. Morgan Carroll sponsored the Homeowners Bill of Rights in 2005, it turns out she was just getting started in her efforts to rein in rogue homeowners associations boards and property managers who abuse HOA residents.

    Stricter reforms followed.

    Now, as the 2013 Colorado General Assembly opens this week, Carroll is poised as incoming Senate Majority Leader to tighten the state’s grip on HOAs.

    Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, said bills will be introduced in the Democrat-controlled House designed to give homeowners a powerful new ally in their battles with dictatorial HOAs by creating what I’m calling a state HOA czar.

    Carroll said she wants to energize the HOA Information Office and Resource Center beyond its current role collecting data and informing people of their rights.

    She hopes to transform the office and its leader, HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski, into a robust investigative and enforcement agency.

    Lawmakers, led by Carroll, created the agency in 2010. It spent 2011 registering HOAs — single-family neighborhoods, condo and townhome associations, voluntary improvement associations, property owners associations. And its staff fielded dozens of calls each day from HOA residents reporting claims of abuse.

    Early in the 2012 session, the agency delivered a devastating 24-page report to lawmakers chronicling the complaints and sparking calls for strict regulation of the state’s 8,000-plus HOAs.

    “When we created the HOA Information Office, we were wanting an ombudsman with investigative authority and enforcement authority,” Carroll said.

    “This year, we’re definitely looking at making the HOA info office more robust. There’s a list of things we can do to put more teeth into the office.”

    Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver and incoming Speaker of the Colorado House

    Carroll said it’s only fair to give HOA residents someone to call when going up against well-funded HOA boards and property management companies and their attorneys.

    “Even with the law on their side, most people don’t have time or money to go to court,” she said. “It’s a  minimum $10,000 investment.”

    Another bill would require individual property managers be licensed by the state. She prefers it to licensing management companies as a sunrise review recommended in 2012.

    “We think it would go a long way toward better compliance with state law,” Carroll said.

    “Managers are more likely to advise them to run open meetings, to comply with disclosure laws and produce documents as required if they know their professional license is at stake.”

    Carroll has more ideas for protecting the 2 million Coloradans living in HOAs.

    And she’s hopeful of winning passage, given the predisposition of House Speaker Mark Ferrandino toward HOAs. (See Saturday’s Side Streets column.)

    “I’m really looking forward to this session,” Carroll said.

    This could get interesting.

    ——

     

  • 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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  • PIKES PEAK REGION LEADS STATE IN HOA COMPLAINTS

    Fri, January 27, 2012 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Hello, neighbor!

    Time again for one of my favorite topics: homeowners associations, or HOAs.

    The HOA Information Office and Resource Center just released a year-long study of Colorado’s HOAs. Results are not pretty.

    The HOA office fielded 3,053 inquiries, of which 478 were complaints.

    Guess what area produced the highest number of complaints.

    The Pikes Peak region, of course, with 21 percent of all complaints!

    Are we a bunch of whiners, or what?

    Not really, says Aaron Acker, the Colorado HOA Information Officer.

    “We started with the presumption we’d get a lot of ticky-tack complaints,” Acker said. “We were wrong. Most of the issues were major ones.”

    Complaints like HOA boards and managers hiding financial and governing documents.

    “Transparency is a big issue,” Acker said. “Homeowners trying to get information are getting significant blow-back from their management companies or HOA boards.”

    Aaron Acker, Colorado HOA Information Officer, spoke to a group of Pikes Peak region property managers and HOA board members on Feb. 15, 2011.

    “People want to know what’s going on with their money. And HOA boards have a legal obligation to produce records at the behest of members. But we’re seeing a lot of complaints about them not responding, producing incomplete records, fighting requests or charging very high fees for documents.”

    Access to HOA board meetings came up often in Acker’s study, as did failure to listen to homeowners — whether by property managers or HOA boards.

    “These are pretty major issues, in my estimation,” Acker said.

    Acker and his office were created by the 2010 Colorado General Assembly.

    Upon opening the office last January, Acker was told to find and register all Colorado HOAs.

     (I used that abbreviation to describe single family resident neighborhoods, condo and townhome associations, voluntary improvement associations, property owners associations.)

    So far, he has registered 8,037 asssociations, representing 838,211 homes, condos and townhome units and 2 million residents.

    Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region are grouped in the South Central category, which has 661 registered HOAs. That’s about 8.2 percent of all HOAs registered. In other words, that 8.2 percent accounted for 21 percent of all complaints!

     (Industry experts believe upwards of 25 percent of Colorado HOAs remain unregistered.)

    Acker said he hopes HOAs will use his findings as a wakeup call to reform how they interact with homeowners.

    Lawmakers are digging into the data, as well, and likely will use it to decide whether it’s time to license property managers or give Acker greater power to police HOAs. Stay tuned!

    Here is a link to a column and blog I wrote recently about the issue of licensing property managers.

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  • HOA BOSS FACES QUESTIONS FROM HOA MANAGERS

    Wed, February 16, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Aaron Acker, director of Colorado's new HOA Information and Resource Center, speaks Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs to the Southern Colorado Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.

    Colorado’s new HOA boss, Aaron Acker, came to Colorado Springs with a clear message for homeowners association board members and professional property managers: he and the new HOA Information Office and Resource Center are not the enemy. 

    “We’re not going to be condo cops,” Acker said Tuesday in a speech to the Southern Colorado Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, the trade group for property managers and HOAs. 

    “We are not a regulatory agency,” Acker said. “And we are not in the business of mediating disputes. 

    “We are strictly an information-gathering agency and resource center for homeowners and for associations.” 

    The crowd of more than 100 seemed wary, however, and even a bit suspicious of Acker. 

     

     

    Acker said about 3,500 HOAs had registered so far, covering about 250,000 homes in Colorado. But he said many more need to get registered by logging onto his web site and paying the $8.95 fee

    “I’m encouraging homeowners to become active in their associations and talk with their associations,” Acker said. “I try to help them understand the concept of homeowners associations. A lot of people have never lived under an association and don’t understand their rights. 

    He said he welcomed information from association boards and property managers, as well. 

    “I’d love to hear from you,” he said. “We understand there are benefits of homeowners associations,” Acker said. “That’s why so many people want to live in them.” 

    Here’s a link to a previous blog I wrote about Acker and his agency

    Aaron Acker, head of the new state HOA Information and Resource Center, fielded questions from the Southern Colorado Chapter of the Community Associations Industry at a luncheon Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs.

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