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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