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Homeowner vs HOA: An Imbalance of Power

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are entities that establish and enforce rules and guidelines while collecting periodic fees to cover the costs of upkeep for common areas and facilities. The boards of directors serve as governing bodies for subdivisions, planned communities, and condominiums.

While HOAs serve a purpose, many property owners file countless complaints involving overreach, if not abuse of power. Since 2011, the Colorado Division of Real Estate (DORA) has received thousands of complaints of violations of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA), which governs HOAs.

DORA receives an average of more than 1,500 complaints annually plus over 5,000 information requests.

Common issues include:

  • Lack of maintenance and repairs
  • Nonadherence to governing documents
  • Nonenforcement of rules and covenants
  • Lack of communication with residents

More serious complaints surround:

  • Harassment from an HOA board member
  • Ignoring property owners' requests for documents
  • Board election fraud
  • Excessive fines

Homeowners are not the only ones who lack the power enjoyed by HOA boards. The HOA Information and Resources Center lacks any authority to enforce regulations. That imbalance creates a "Wild West" dynamic for 7,7881 active HOAs throughout the state who can, in practice, enforce the rules as they see fit or target certain property owners.

Currently, the only recourse against an HOA manager or board is litigation. Many in the industry are supportive of dispute resolution outside of court due to the reduced costs and time savings. Currently, that process is used as an option in mobile home parks. Any subsequent appeals could go before an administrative law judge. More complicated disagreements would still have the option of going to court.

Homeowners looking to even the odds against their HOAs may require the help of an experienced and knowledgeable real estate attorney.

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