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HOAs-Roxanne Rieske, Denver

1:31 PM, Jan 28, 2008   |    comments
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As a board member of a HOA and a homeowner, I really admire what Carroll Morgan has done for preserving homeowner rights, and I agree with almost all of the new legislation.

One thing that I think is important to point out is that there are two different types of HOAs. I know there is no legal definition (and maybe there needs to be), but the distinction exists nonetheless.

I am a board member of a HOA that overseas a condo complex of about 50 units. We are a small community, and an older community (about 40 years old). This is an association that deals with common property.

Homeowners own the area inside their own units, but they do not own any structures outside their doors; this includes patios and decks, the roof, and the outside brick and mortar of the buildings.

My type of HOA is also responsible for all utilities except the electricity in individual units; we also pay for landscaping and snow removal. My HOA is quite different from a HOA that oversees a neighborhood community of individual housing structures, where homeowners own everything, including the land that their homes stand on.

Homeowners of these types of communities are responsible for their own utilities, landscaping, snow removal, etc. I do not approve of restrictive HOAs, particularly of HOAs that oversee individual housing structures. Prohibiting homeowners from modifying their homes without approval, prohibiting flag flying and the display of political banners, etc. is very detrimental to our democracy and to our way of life as a country.

Stripping away constitutional rights is never acceptable to me. (I know of one HOA that
regulates what type of window treatments you can have in your home, which is beyond ridiculous!)

As a board member who is very aware of this ongoing problem among HOAs, I struggle constantly to remind my board of the necessity of balance and the need to preserve the rights of the homeowner. It has always been my goal as a board member to maintain a community that is not restrictive beyond what the City and County of Denver maintains as city code, law, and/or ordinance.

All this being said, my board still has a responsibility to maintain a clean and healthy community. What does this mean for homeowners in a condo community?

Here's a short list:

1. If you are buying a unit in a condo association, you will be signing a contract with the HOA where you agree to comply with all covenant regulations and to pay your assessments on time, each month. Refusing to do so will incur financial penalties against you, and you risk the board foreclosing on your unit if these obligations are not met. As a home buyer, it is your responsibility to know what it is you are buying into.

2. Your assessments pay for the necessary utilities that are required for a healthy, safe, and comfortable environment (trash removal, water & sewer, snow removal, landscaping, and heat). These assessments also pay for all the maintenance and repair work of the buildings, roofing, and the boiler system. If you don't pay them, it makes it more difficult (and sometimes impossible) for the board to meet these responsibilities. Would you not pay for these necessities if you owned an individual housing structure? Currently, my HOA is dealing with a serious delinquency problem. It's only 5 homeowners that are not paying their assessments, but it's putting a serious pinch on what we can do with our budget. We are not yet in debt, but our reserves are shrinking rapidly due to this delinquency. PAY YOUR ASSESSMENTS!

3. Owning property in a condo complex means that you only own the inside of your unit and can only modify that area without approval. You do not have the right to put satellite dishes on the roof, drill holes in outer structures, or paint your patio/deck. In addition, all patio door, window, and entry door replacement projects must meet the approval of the board. We have a responsibility to make sure such projects meet the color and architectural scheme of the property.

4. The common grounds/landscaping are for everyone's use and enjoyment. You cannot store furniture, trash, and junk on your patio/deck (it's unsightly and unsanitary), and you must pick up after your dog! We receive more complaints about dog waste not being picked up than anything else. If you have no desire to pick up after your dog, then don't own one. If you continually refuse to pick up after your dog, we will go to the letter of the law to have the animal forcibly removed from the property. Dogs must also be on a leash at all times and physically supervised while they are on the grounds. This is Denver law!

The four issues discussed above are some of the most common ones that HOAs of condo and town home communities face on a constant basis. It would be nice to see some legislation that helps *US* to complete the job we have willingly volunteered our time to do. We don't get paid for this, and we certainly don't receive any accolades for it.

Sincerely, Roxanne Rieske Denver

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