It’s that time of year again when Boards are planning for the New Year. If your Association has increased (or even decreased) its annual assessment fees for 2015, it is important that the Association follow its governing documents when providing notice of the change to all owners. 

In addition to providing owners with proper notice of any change, the Association should also notify its attorney.  This will help to ensure that any accounts and/or payment plans that are with the attorney for collection are properly noted, and any increase is accurately accounted for and collected.

This will also allow the attorney to take the proper measures to ensure that the Association retains the right to collect the new assessment fee against certain owners who have filed for bankruptcy.

If you have not notified your attorney that your assessment fees have changed for the upcoming year, now would be a good time! 

 In an improving economy, the important of monitoring a public trustee foreclosure sales has additional benefits above and beyond making a claim for payment of the association’s super priority lien. As most of you are aware, following the filing of a public trustee foreclosure, CCIOA provides for recovery of up to six months of delinquent assessment fees. For years, the importance of monitoring a public trustee oftentimes had little significance above and beyond making a claim for the super lien and determining the new owner following the sale of the property.

Continue Reading Money in your Pocket: Monitoring Foreclosure Sales

For a court to have authority to make legal decisions and enter a judgment against someone, the court must have both personal and subject matter jurisdiction over that person.  Subject matter jurisdiction involves the court’s ability or power to hear certain types of cases, whereas personal jurisdiction is the court’s power over a particular party.  The court obtains personal jurisdiction over a defendant when the plaintiff obtains proper service of process of the summons and other related documents, including the complaint.  Service of process is the way by which a party receives notice of the initiation of the litigation and is thereby afforded an opportunity to respond.

Continue Reading Service of Process – What is it?

I’m the granddaughter of Midwestern dairy farmers who grew up during the Great Depression, and my parents own a small town HVAC/plumbing business. As a child, I often heard some version of the following: “I can make that.” “We don’t need to hire someone. I can fix it.” “Why would we pay someone for that work? I can do it myself.” With this do-it-yourself attitude ingrained in my psyche, I can’t help but feel guilty when I need to call a plumber to unclog a drain or when I hire someone to clean my house. The frugality—and wherewithal—that my parents and grandparents modeled for me certainly left an impression. Yet I’ve also come to realize that my life sometimes requires different choices.

Yes, I can play plumber and unclog a sink drain. I’ve done it: I’ve gathered the equipment, removed U-traps, brushed pipes clean, disposed of clogged pipe nastiness, and put everything back together. Sometimes I’ve succeeded. But on other occasions I’ve removed the drain stopper and struggled to get it reconnected, or, as one of my college roommates will recount, my work has resulted in leaks where I could not get the old mismatched pipes to fit securely. Yes, I’ve played plumber and channeled my inner DIY-er, but I’m not a plumber. I would not offer to fix someone else’s drain, and I most definitely would not venture into my HOA’s clubhouse armed with a plunger and pipe putty.

Continue Reading This Lawyer is Not a Plumber: Are you hiring the right professionals to serve your association?

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.

 Sometimes during a collection of an account, we become aware that the homeowner is in the military.  When this happens, there are certain procedures and precautions we must take before proceeding with collections.  This is due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which affords a number of significant protections to servicemen and servicewomen who are on active duty.

Continue Reading Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

By now, your association should have a new collection policy in place that complies with the new HOA collection law that went into effect on January 1, 2014. When adopting a new policy, the association should not only ensure its compliance with the new law, it should also make sure it is consistent with its other governing documents. As I discussed in a previous blog, it is important that the association’s governing documents are consistent with one another and most importantly, with the Declaration. While the policy can add or elaborate specifics about the collection procedures, it cannot contradict the terms of the Declaration or the new law.  Should you have any questions regarding your collection policy, please feel free to contact us.

When we hear the term “burden of proof”, many of us think of the television crime shows we all watch such as Law and Order or CSI, and how we always hear that the prosecution has to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  This “reasonable doubt” standard is the burden of proof in criminal cases.  In general, the burden of proof, or burden of persuasion, is the duty placed upon a party to prove or disprove a disputed fact.  Depending on the case and the arguments, either party can bear this burden. 

In civil cases, however, the burden of proof is a lower standard and only requires that the party who bears the burden prove or disprove a disputed fact by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence.  Colorado courts define “preponderance of the evidence” as proving that it is more probably true than not, and have defined “clear and convincing evidence”  as proving that it is highly probable and there exists no serious or substantial doubt. It is up to the judge or jury hearing the case to decide whether a party has met its burden.

 

Continue Reading Burden of Proof

 I have to admit, I’m not a fan but was intrigued when I discovered that Porscha Williams from the hit show ‘The Real Housewives’ was hit with a Judgment of nearly $18,000.00 for failing to pay association assessment fees and other charges. Apparently, a garnishment was authorized to attempt to collect the outstanding debt.  http://rollingout.com/tv/reality-tv-tv/porsha-williams-accused-owing-18000-homeowners-association/

Continue Reading Even ‘Real Housewives’ Must Pay Assessments!