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State Lawmakers Try To Rein In Homeowners Associations

DENVER (CBS4) - State lawmakers took up a bill Tuesday that would help homeowners who have fallen behind on their homeowners association dues.

While many HOAs work to the benefit homeowners, lawmakers say there are some that are abusive. The Colorado Division of Real Estate says one of its top complaints about HOAs is that they will stop at nothing to collect their dues.

"I find that there is a lot of abuse and bullying that goes on with HOAs," homeowner Leslie Stevens said.

Stevens went to the state Capitol with an HOA horror story. She says her homeowners association threatened to put a lien on her property over a single late fee.

"They pretty much are able to do what they want at their will," Stevens told lawmakers.

Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, wants to put a stop to it.

"Everyone at one point in their life may have some financial difficulties," Williams said.

Williams is carrying legislation that would require HOAs to provide detailed information about what's owed and offer a payment plan.

"The bill is designed to ensure you catch up on your dues and that consumers just don't keep prolonging and then the bill just gets higher and higher with fees and assessments and late dues," Williams said.

Under the bill a homeowner would have six months to pay off their debt.

Christine O'Donnell represents property managers.

"If this goes into effect, now you have someone who's six months delinquent, and then they have another six months," O'Donnell said. "At that point you're a year in arrears and chances of you paying up are minimal."

Homeowner Stan Hrincevich agrees that people should pay their dues, but he says falling behind shouldn't cost a family their home.

"Excesses fees, fines, add-ons, charging $100 to issue a letter to a homeowner indicating that their delinquent," Rincevich said. "If you're delinquent there should be a penalty, but too often it's an execution, not a penalty."

The bill passed out of committee and is headed to the full House.

Another bill that would better track HOAs, their number, how they resolve complaints, conduct elections and determine fees, also passed out of committee Tuesday.

In all there are four bills dealing with HOAs now making their way through the Legislature.

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