I spent the last ten days in upstate New York, fishing, eating good food, drinking bad beer, and spending time with family and friends. I’m fortunate that I married into a family with a cottage on a good-sized lake near Canada. The walleye, crappie, pike, and bass were out in full force, and when they weren’t biting, I was tubing and swimming, trying to forget the teeth of the fish I’d caught earlier that day.

The family cottage is part of a small association of approximately ten properties, most of which are used seasonally by families who have known one another for decades. There aren’t any architectural reviews or approvals, and from my perspective everything is pretty informal.

In spite of the low-key nature of the association, I realized it would be subject to the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act if it were in this state. The association maintains gravel roads through most of the entry, and owns several acres of forest behind the waterfront lots. The association owns a tractor and a boat ramp as well. Dues are mandatory, and the association holds its annual meeting in July. Under CCIOA, the mandatory dues and obligations related to property other than the specific property owned by the individuals create a common interest community.

While this association would be “pre-CCIOA,” as the first properties were constructed in the 1940s, many of CCIOA’s provisions would apply. All meetings – whether Board or Member – would need to be open, and the association would have to adopt the nine responsible governance policies mandated by legislation enacted in the past seven years. The association would have specific records requirements (many of which will change in the coming months, as discussed by Molly Foley Healy here), and could have greater or lesser powers than those spelled out in its governing documents, depending on how the documents would interact with CCIOA.

In our practice, we see many associations that don’t fall within the typical "homeowners association" footprint.  Vacant lots for camping and fishing, large "I don’t want to live in a homeowners association" lots that end up as associations, and older associations that find themselves within the confines of increasingly stringent regulation are common.  You may live in one of these unusual associations.  If so, it’s important to do your homework and make sure you’re complying with the law.  It’s also a relief if you find out your association isn’t obligated to comply with CCIOA.

Ultimately I’m glad the cottage isn’t subject to CCIOA. While I love CCIOA and all its idiosyncrasies, it’s simply too much governance for a small, nearly part-time association full of people whose main complaint is that the fish just don’t run quite as big as they used to. I for one, am not complaining!