Last Thursday, as Chair of CAI’s Colorado Legislative Action Committee, I served on a panel for a Town Hall Meeting hosted by State Representatives Angela Williams, Su Ryden, Rhonda Fields, Nancy Todd and State Senator Morgan Carroll. The topic of the evening revolved around HOAs, the problems folks living in them sometimes experience and whether Colorado law needs to be revised to address these problems.

As I listened to homeowner advocates and folks who have experienced real problems with their HOAs, three important principles for empowerment came to mind:  (1) homeowners are empowered when they are knowledgable; (2) homeowners are empowered when they participate in the governance of their HOAs; and (3) homeowners are empowered when they focus upon and are part of real and reasonable solutions.

Knowledge is Power:  It’s not all that unusual for homeowners to feel like they are adrift when issues or disputes arise in their HOA.  However, before you feel overwhelmed or react prematurely, take the time to get educated.  Check out the governing documents of your association to see what those documents have to say about the issue at hand.  Governing documents include the:  (1) articles of incorporation; (2) bylaws; (3) declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (sometimes called the condominium declaration); (4) architectural or design guidelines; (5) rules and regulations; and (6) policies and resolutions of the association.  Also, make sure to attend meetings of the board of your association to listen to the discussions and action taken on issues that are important to you and your community.  If you are confused, ask questions at the appropriate time and in a constructive manner.

Participation is Power:  Meetings of HOAs are open to the members in Colorado.  Like I mentioned earlier – attend meetings, provide constructive input to the board and management, volunteer to serve on committees and run for the board!  If you want to have a positive impact on the direction of your community, there’s no better way to make a difference than to get involved.

Solutions are Power:  One of the biggest mistakes that I see homeowners make when they have an issue with their HOA, is to constantly complain and pass judgment on their board and management without providing any constructive input on how to resolve the problem.  If you have a problem with your HOA, come to the table in a constructive way with recommendations on how to resolve the situation.  Don’t sling mud – instead sling positive solutions! 

Before giving up or getting bitter about a dispute – gather information, participate in the process and work with your HOA to craft positive solutions.  You will likely find that these three steps will empower you, your board and management to navigate through some tough waters while creating a true sense of community.