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.
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.