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Colorado Lawmakers Want More Transparency In HOAs

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado lawmakers have taken up an effort to do something about over-reaching homeowners associations. They want more transparency in HOAs.

Complaints about HOAs are so widespread the state began tracking them last year. It just released its first report, and topping the list is a lack of transparency.

Homeowners complain their HOAs won't release financial records, tell them when and where they're meeting, and what they're doing. Some lawmakers say that is about to change.

Lyn Cromar still remembers the day she bought her first home -- a condominium in Denver's Capitol Hill.

"I was definitely super excited; a single woman buying her first home," Cromar said.

But the novelty quickly wore off.

"The first problem I had with a notice or violation is the day that I closed on the property," Cromar said.

Cromar clashed with her HOA, which fined her $1,400 last year for violations she says she wasn't even aware of. She says she repeatedly asked for a record of her account.

"That's when we decided to hire an attorney," she said.

"From the complaints we hear and what we've heard in our district, is that there is no transparency," said Rep. Anglea Williams, D-Denver.

Williams is the sponsor of a bill that would require HOAs and property managers to release financial records showing how much money they have and how that money is being spent.

"Managers handle anywhere from $200,000 to millions and millions of dollars, and so we need to have some accountability," Williams said.

Republican counterparts like David Balmer agree.

"The money that the HOA has is not the HOA's money. That money belongs to the neighborhood and every homeowner in that neighborhood should have access to those financial records," said Balmer, R-Centennial.

In Cromar's case the HOA ultimately dismissed the complaints and gave her the records she requested. But she says it shouldn't be so hard.

"The fact you have to hire an attorney to get this done is ridiculous," she said.

Right now the law says homeowners must have a "proper purpose" to access their HOA's financial records, which leaves a lot to interpretation. The bill spells out what they have access to, including receipts and expenditures, contracts and minutes of all meetings.

With bipartisan support the bill has a good chance of becoming a law.

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