Stan Hrincevich, President of the Coloradohoaforum.com, wrote a YourHub, Denver Post opinion on May 4th, HOA homeowner’s rights and voting rights of yesteryear. Stan severely criticizes HOA justice for homeowners and the inequality of the financial costs to obtain justice.
“You have the right to vote but now you have to pay a poll tax and can’t afford to vote. . . . However, this seemingly fair mode of governance ensuring the rights of the homeowner and HOA is as much an illusion as ensuring voting rights in the late 1800s accompanied by the poll tax. HOA justice for homeowners is a pay-to-play enforcement system. If one has deep financial pockets, time, and legal resources, one can pursue one’s rights under their HOA governing documents. Others without such resources cannot.”
He recommends non-judicial hearings which, I assume, would include stronger enforcement of the decisions and the law than currently today in Colorado and in every other state. Implied is a reduced cost to homeowners – the removal of the present day poll tax.
I’ve also argued that the current status of HOA justice has the same effect as if it were a poll tax (made unlawful by LBJ in 1964). But the real obstacle to homeowner justice is the lack of state enforcement of HOA board violations of the law and the governing documents. The vast majority of the reform laws rely on the good will of the HOA board and its attorneys to act in good faith with the intent of the law. However, the conduct and acts of the HOAs and their attorneys has demonstrated that this reliance is unfounded. They should be held accountable as if they were municipal government employees.
“If there is no penalty [for] disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #15)
“Your HOA board (BOD) is unaccountable under state laws with trivial, if any, penalties, or punishments for violations of state laws or the governing documents? Without meaningful enforcement to hold BODs accountable and to serve as a detriment to continued violations, you are forced to sue just to get compliance.”
I strongly agree with Stan, reform can only come from the legislature enacting just laws and removing pro-HOA laws.
- Poll Tax postings on HOA Constitutional Government. To say that a homeowner can go to court for a redress of grievances would be like saying that there was nothing wrong with the 1950s Poll Tax abomination, used as an effective, legal at the time, devise to stop voter registrations. (April 2010 Letter to NC House Select HOA Committee); In the late 1950s the Southern states enacted a Poll Tax and instituted certain “tests” in order for citizens to be eligible to register to vote. No federal or state laws were violated, since the states were permitted to determine the methods for registering citizens, so long as it was not based on race (15th Amendment). Of course, the tax was set at a level very few Blacks could afford to pay (Dec. 2008, Goldwater Institute: separate and unequal constitutions for HOAs); Civil action amounts to a bar against justice much as the imposition of poll tax in the South in the 1950s used to prevent blacks from registering to vote. Justice for the average homeowner cannot be had a price which he cannot afford while the association is allowed to use member dues to hire a lawyer (June 2006, Where’s California’s Homeowners Bill of Rights?
2. See HOA-Land Nation “Did you know?” Part 2 (2019).