More than 85% of officials in state legislatures are up for re-election this year. So what does that mean to you as a board member or resident in a condo or homeowners’ association (HOA)? And how does this affect HOA law?

Your representatives are all ears!

“Often, we feel that we’re at the mercy of legislation, instead of remembering that, as constituents, we have a voice in government,” said Chuck Fallon, FirstService Residential Chief Executive Officer. “When associations and residents speak up, we can be heard.”

There are a variety of initiatives on the table across the nation that will significantly impact community associations. In this article, we’ll take a look at what those issues are – and most importantly, how you can impact HOA law.

1. Four important issues you should care about.

Within the “Action Figures” article in the March/April 2016 edition of the Community Manager newsletter, Community Associations Institute (or CAI), tracks legislative issues across the country, and they’ve identified four important issues that will have a huge impact on community association living.

  • Priority liens. Currently, associations in many states have the authority to place a lien on a home in the instance of past due assessments. At least nine states are now mulling over the possibility of repealing this longstanding practice. Though liens are always a last resort, they remain important to making sure every resident pays their fair share and enjoys the benefits of an adequately funded association.
  • Construction defect warranties. Across the country, builders and developers are teaming up to limit construction defect warranties. This is bad news for homeowners and associations – it takes away an important consumer protection.
  • Mandatory arbitration. The association industry has long supported arbitration as a means of resolving disputes in lieu of costly litigation. But current proposed legislation would make arbitration the law and not a choice.
  • Disclosure document fees. This one comes masked as a consumer protection act. A proposed cap on these fees won’t help consumers because the caps don’t cover costs. That means the deficit would have to be passed onto association members in the form of increased dues – which is effectively another tax.

2. You can find out what’s happening in your state.

How many of the above proposed legislation updates (and countless others) affect you directly? It’s time to find out. CAI keeps a complete state-by-state breakdown which you can find here. Take a look and find out what’s going to make an impact on you and your neighbors – and then take the time to act.

3. There are many ways to support or oppose legislation.

Ready to get involved? That’s good, because many of these proposals literally hit close to home. The most direct way to act is to write or call your state representatives. Like we said earlier, many of them are up for re-election this year, so they’re keenly interested in the concerns of their constituents. You can also get legislators involved more directly – board members can invite them to community events and meetings so they can see firsthand the value of associations. Or you can do what one Nevada community management company does – they hold a bi-annual “Day at the Capitol” where board members visit the state capitol and speak face-to-face with their representatives. Most of all, you can be a positive voice for association living wherever you go.

This is an important year for associations and HOA law, and it’s the perfect time for you to do your part – for the good of your home and your community. For more information, contact FirstService Residential.

Thursday May 12, 2016