WASHINGTON – States stepping in to help resolve HOA conflicts

The Columbian: States stepping in to help resolve HOA conflicts
Ombudsmen work to educate owners on rules and laws

By Jenni Bergal, Steteline.org
October 25, 2015

Has your homeowner association fined you for painting your house purple? Have you ignored requests to pay annual maintenance fees for your condo’s clubhouse and swimming pool? Has your association refused to let you see its financial documents?

These are the types of conflicts that frequently erupt between residents and homeowner or condo associations. Some can get quite heated — or downright nasty.

A small, but growing number of states are trying to tackle the problem by creating ombudsman or homeowner information offices to handle the deluge of complaints that often land at state and local agencies.

The goal is to educate residents and association board members about their rights and responsibilities under the law and help settle disputes before they wind up in court.

“You’re dealing with people and personalities and homes and emotions,” said Heather Morton, a legislative analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Having an ombudsman is a way to have somebody a little more neutral offer help and information to the homeowners and the board, and possibly mediate and bring the parties together so they can reach an amicable solution.”

Last year, Delaware and Illinois passed laws creating ombudsman offices.

Four other states — Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia — already have an ombudsman or a homeowner information center. Read more:


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