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Homeowners Associations and Government

Can government get involved in resolving homeowners' association disputes? The answer depends on the issue at hand. For general resident-association disputes, most government agencies are unlikely to step into a dispute between residents and an association.

In New York, the answer is clear: "In most cases there is no government agency that can help unhappy owners who are having problems with their homeowners association." So says an information package distributed to common interest developments (CID) residents by the State Attorney General's office.

Government Intervention

That does not mean governments are never able to get involved. When homeowners associations clearly overstep their bounds, government does sometimes step in. In June 2005, Colorado passed a measure known as Senate Bill 100, which prohibits homeowners associations from adopting rules that prevent residents from displaying the American flag or political signs. It also limits the availability of foreclosures and requires homeowners associations to give potential buyers a copy of the rules that govern the CID.

One reason government is often reluctant to get involved with these disputes is that often for every one resident who has a complaint about a particular rule there are dozens of residents who value that rule. Many people choose to live in a community that guarantees them a sense of structure and uniformity, because along with structure and uniformity also comes security and peace of mind.

Deliberate vs. Inadvertent Violations

Regardless of the legal standing, most people would say that there is a difference between a resident who inadvertently violates a CID rule and one who deliberately does so.

Colorado's Senate Bill 100 was actually less stringent when it was signed into law than it had originally been. Governor Bill Owens explained that taking too much authority away from homeowners associations ignored the fact that many CID residents had chosen to live there because they wanted a neighborhood with clear regulations.

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