Homeowner seeks free and easy access to HOA records
We live in an HOA community and are thinking about selling our home. In order to avoid any delays in the sale, I contacted our HOA management company for a copy of our to make sure there are no errors or liens to delay the sale.
I was told that I needed to visit their office and that there may be a fifteen cent per-page charge. They are required to make this information available, but not required to send it to us.
This is a hassle for me to drive down for the file. Why does this process have to be so difficult for homeowners to obtain a copy of the file? Why can’t they make the information easily accessible?
I really don’t have time to play this game.
– Jumping through HOA hoops
Dear Jumping through HOA hoops:
The one word that is missing in your HOA is: Transparency
The year is 2017. It’s an amazing year of technology that provides transparency for those living in the United State.
Transparency is: Free, Unlimited, Ease of access to all your information any time day or night and from any location.
I can log into my Bank account, or Retirement account, or Amazon account or Insurance account or Mortgage account, or City utilities account and have instant, FREE, access to all my information. One click and the PDFs are mine, all mine, for the downloading and printing. I don’t have to leave my home and it’s . . . FREE. (I may have mentioned that earlier)
Not so with HOAs.
HOAs discourage easy access to information
HOA’s are required by law to provide you access to information about your association. Items such as: Lot file, Financials and other documents. But many HOA’s require the homeowner to jump through hoops and pay for this information.
In other words, HOAs discourage transparency.
Americans have come to expect and even demand this transparency in our: Banks, Schools, Insurance companies, and in our Government. We want to know all that is going on and expect the information now. We don’t have time to request, pay and wait to locate the details/documents that should be stored on a secure web site and obtainable with the click of the mouse.
Why pay twice for the same service?
The HOA management company charges the homeowner a monthly/quarterly fee for their services, and then they may charge you for information that you pay them to maintain. This is a great business model to generate profits and discourage transparency.
Imagine your insurance company charging you a monthly premium, and then charging you for copies of your policy, payment history, claim status, etc.
You (the homeowner) have little choice than to pay twice and follow your HOA’s rules to obtain information about the association you live in. You are a captive audience. After all, you cannot switch management companies, but are forced to work with the management company your board selected.
Proposed law for Arizona HOA homeowners
There is a group of citizens with the goal of changing this.
The Arizona Home Owners Coalition (ACHOC) is a group of private citizens working with Arizona Legislators to hold Home Owners Associations boards and their management companies accountable. Below is a proposed bill by AZHOC to provide information at no cost to the homeowner.
All financial and other records of the association shall be made reasonably available for examination by any UNIT OWNER or any person designated by the UNIT OWNER in writing as the UNIT OWNER’S representative. The association shall not charge a UNIT OWNER or any person designated by the UNIT OWNER in writing for making material available for review. The association shall have ten business days to fulfill a request for examination.
This law would be a great first step for Homeowners. This would force management companies to work with and not against homeowners to make this information available on their secure web site.
HOA LOT file errors
Your HOA lot file is your credit report for your home. Errors left uncorrected can really hurt you. The best time to fix errors is before they turn into liens or hold up the sale of your home.
Your Lot file is maintained by humans and prone to errors. Maybe your file contains violations against your home for your neighbor’s garbage cans being left out or for weeds in the yard of a person with the same house number but on a different street.
The only person who can fix this is the homeowner.
Right now you have no choice but to play their game. I would suggest you take a long lunch from work and drive to your management company, pay their fee for a copy of your records and if necessary, ask them to correct your LOT file for errors.
The process of correcting errors will take time and effort and much follow up. Stick with it, they have nothing to lose for an incorrect LOT file, you have much to lose.
Correcting Errors in your HOA LOT file
What happens if there is an error in your credit report, or retirement account or mortgage statement? The government protects us by forcing these companies to fix errors and fix them quick and at no cost to the consumer.
Not so for homeowners in Arizona at this time. Wouldn’t it be great if homeowners had this same protection from HOA management companies?
Free HOA access to all Homeowners
Below is a list of documents that all management companies should store on their secure server at no cost to the homeowner:
- Lot File
- Financial statements of the HOA association for the last three years
- All contracts between the HOA and all vendors (including the management company)
- Board minutes
- Maybe video recording of all board meetings?
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