My household includes a Grinch and a Clark Griswold.  "Clark’ wants to put up holiday decorations last weekend.  "The Grinch" thinks holiday decorations are overly-expensive cat toys to be avoided at all costs.  The Grinch received the following poem by Nena Groskind this morning, and somehow is now in a bit of a Christmas mood.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we have, and prepare reasonable rules and regulations in the spirit of the season!

Continue Reading A Community Christmas Carol (sort of)

In 2012, the Colorado legislature changed the laws governing community association records, including requirements that Board members’ e-mail addresses be retained as official records.  At first, many of our clients balked at the new requirement.  As many of you are aware, it’s very easy to allow electronic communications to become uncivil, and Board members didn’t want these communications going to their private or work e-mails.

To address these concerns, we recommend that our association clients create e-mail addresses for the Boards, and that the Boards pass these along to new Board members as they are elected.  This ensures continuity of communications for homeowners, and it also protects Board members from the risk of having their personal or work e-mails subject to discovery in the event of litigation.  Board members can also create their own personal association e-mail addresses, although this does not have the bonus side of maintaining continuity as the Board turns over. Either way, Board members should have dedicated association e-mail addresses.

Continue Reading Board Communications and E-mails

It is not uncommon for homeowners to wonder where all their dues are going.  Some owners might see their dues go up with no visible changes to the property and even get suspicious.  Of course, associations often bear a lot of expenses that are not directly related to property condition, such as insurance, management, and legal fees.  Nevertheless, owners have the right to know what their association is doing with their assessments.

If a homeowner wants to know where the money is, he or she should first request the association’s annual financial statements.  These statements are an association record, and the owner has a right to view them.  The Colorado legislature intends that these statements be available at no cost to the owner, so it is advisable for associations to keep them readily available in an electronic format.

If the annual financials do not satisfy the owner, an audit or review may be an option.  Audits are performed at the discretion of the board, but members are empowered to demand audits in limited circumstances.  If the association has annual revenues or expenditures of at least $250,000.00 and at least one-third of the owners request the audit, the Association must obtain an audit using generally accepted auditing standards, performed by a certified public accountant.  If the Association has revenues or expenditures below $250,000.00, a third of the owners are entitled to demand a review, rather than an audit.

Audits are expensive, and if you find yourself in a situation where owners are requesting an audit or review, listen to the request.  There is a reason for the dissatisfaction, and if the association has properly conducted business, the audit or review will support the board’s conduct.

I do not have a green thumb. Our new attorney, Doug, is an excellent gardener, so I am trying to figure out ways to convince him that beautifying my lawn is a requirement of his employment. I think he’s starting to figure me out.

I’m not the only one who wants a nicer lawn. Now that it’s Spring, many homeowners throughout Colorado are breaking out their shovels and trowels, turning their soil, and installing velociraptor lawn ornaments.

Continue Reading Jurassic Covenant Violations

Winzenburg, Leff, Purvis & Payne, LLP is pleased to announce free lunchtime teleconference classes for community association managers designed to help prepare managers to take the Colorado law portion of the licensing examination. While community association managers will not be required to be licensed until July 1, 2015, now is the time to start preparing for the examination on Colorado law. 

Instead of sitting through an all day class on Colorado law, our program is designed to break down key components of Colorado law into manageable classes. The classes are designed to be one hour in length and no travel is required to attend them! We will also be seeking CMCA credits from CAMICB (previously known as NBC-CAM) for these free classes.

Please contact Allison at agrout@wlpplaw.com to RSVP and be put on the list for additional information.

Class

Date

CCIOA/Pre-CCIOA

5/14/2014

Responsible Governance

6/11/2014

Meetings

7/9/2014

Voting

8/6/2014

Action without a meeting

8/27/2014

Collections

9/10/2014

Covenant Enforcement

10/8/2014

Records

11/12/2014

Public Policy

12/10/2014

Energy Efficiency

1/7/2015

OTARD

1/28/2015

Fair Housing/ADA

2/11/2015

Insurance Basics

3/11/2015

Declaration Amendments

4/8/2015

Annual Disclosures

5/13/2015

WLPP attorney Doug Stallworthy recently wrote a post on transparency in association boards. His thoughts follow.

Transparency in decisions made by the board of a homeowners association fosters a sense of confidence in those decisions.  By following correct procedures for meetings on all issues, whether simple or complex, both the board and members will gain a familiarity with the process, and members may understand how complex the issues faced by a board really are.

When residents contact a board member about an issue in the community, the board member should always refer them to the HOA manager, ask the resident follow complaint procedures, or raise the issue at the appropriate time in an open meeting.  Board members should not give opinions or make decisions outside of a meeting. Open meetings allow the board as an entity to discuss an issue, and receive comments from interested members.

Continue Reading The Advantages of Transparency

If there is one thing people hate almost as much as an assessment increase, it is properly funding reserves.  Some owners look at those lonely accounts, chock full of unused cash just sitting there, and think, "Hey, let’s use that money now! That way, we don’t have to raise assessments this year!"  Other owners look at the reserves and wonder if perhaps it’s okay to defer reserve contributions until a time when finances loosen up.

Hogwash. 

Continue Reading Who needs reserves?

Winzenburg, Leff, Purvis & Payne, LLP, is pleased to announce that Doug Stallworthy will join the firm on February 10, 2014.  Doug previously focused his practice on real estate, commercial leasing, corporate law, civil litigation, community associations, and employment law.  At Winzenburg, Doug will focus on the transactional and business needs of community associations throughout Colorado.

Doug holds dual citizenship in the United States and New Zealand, and before becoming an attorney he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in surveying and worked as a Planner and Survey Project Manager. 

I personally am very excited to have someone around to translate metes and bounds descriptions!

Please join us in welcoming Doug to the firm!

Covenant enforcement usually ramps up in our office in the spring, but we often receive phone calls from managers and Board members regarding holiday displays.  From elaborate constructions of holiday cheer to somewhat less friendly displays, we see just about everything.  A few reminders when considering whether the displays in your neighborhood are enforcement-worthy:

Do you have the power?  Check your documents.  If they do not provide limitations, it’s probably a bad idea to start imposing them on Christmas Eve.

Are you targeting someone because of personal beliefs?  Stop it.

Don’t be a Grinch.  If your association provides clear rules and regulations governing holiday light displays, you can enforce any violations after the holiday season.  If you don’t like the Griswold house down the street, calm down, drink another glass of eggnog, and remember – it will all be over soon!

Yet another homeowners association has found itself in hot water for potential violations of federal fair housing laws.  East of San Francisco, the Tennis Villas at Blackhawk association barred children from trick-or-treating at Halloween.  While the community is gated and "upscale," an upscale community does not have the right to adopt policies that have a disparate impact on a group due to familial status.

Here, by adopting a policy that essentially only affects families with young children, the association is discriminating against those families.  According to the article, the association even prohibits children from playing on common areas!

This is a bad policy decision that could have been avoided if the association had sought legal counsel before its adoption.  While there are always two sides to a story, it sounds like the association needs to change its policies – yesterday!