The Community Associations Institute
"The Community Associations Institute evolved from a public interest group intended to provide institutional support, education, and training to Common Interest Development (CID) boards, to its present role as an influential trade association and special interest group dominated by lawyers and property managers." Evan McKenzie
The community Associations Institute is an nationwide organization which represents the interests of homeowner's associations, management companies, and lawyer's groups. They lobby hard to defeat any legislation that would limit the powers of these groups and provide some rights and safeguards for homeowners. Just this year, right here in Texas, they mounted an effective email campaign which was carried out by those same homeowner's associations, management companies, and lawyer's groups to defeat Houston Senator Jon Lindsay's recommendations to the 78th Texas State Legislature. Because our management company, along with our association's past and present attorneys are top tier members of this organization, we believe it is very unlikely that they did not take an active roll in the defeat of the recommendations listed below. It should also be noted that your Board of Directors, either through membership dues or direct contribution to the CAI's "legislative action committee," has also been giving them the support.
With the help of the San Antonio Current (see Shavano Ridge in the News), we all learned that Barbara Lowry, the owner of our management company, is a lobbyist for the Community Associations Institute and that she lobbied to defeat the following legislative recommendations.
After reading these recommendations, you should ask yourself who is looking out for your best interests, and how do you want your association dues spent?
From the Office of
Senator Jon Lindsay
Subcommittee on Property Owner
Associations (POA) Publishes Recommendations
Recommendation 1.6 - Enact statutory language permitting a homeowner, in a case brought against the homeowner, to recover reasonable legal fees (as determined by the judge) from the POA if the POA is found to have no reasonable basis to sue the homeowner.
No provision exists for owners to recoup their legal defense fees in cases where POAs unreasonably bring suit. This recommendation would discourage boards from pursuing ill advised enforcement suits.
Recommendation 1.7 - Enact statutory language prohibiting "deferred billing" arrangements with attorneys and management companies.
The subcommittee received reports of attorneys billing owners directly without POA board knowledge. In addition, some management companies are said to automatically add penalties in the form of administrative fees when owners are cited for restriction violations. This recommendation is intended to limit extraneous fees charged to owners and to ensure that the client POAs are invoiced directly for the services provided.
Recommendation 1.8 - Amend ¤¤209.006-007, Property Code, by expanding an owner's right to a hearing before a POA board to include all issues of disagreement, including assessment and fee issues as well as deed restriction and architectural control issues.
Under present law, a number of conditions must exist before a POA must extend a hearing opportunity to an owner. This recommendation is meant to give owners all possible opportunities to be heard by the board to settle issues and avoid unnecessary attorney fees.
Recommendation 1.9 - Amend ¤¤209.006-007, Property Code, to require that when notifying an owner of their hearing rights a POA should state a range of any potential legal and management fees that could be charged to their account if the matter is pursued further and/or ultimately sent to the POA attorney.
If owners are made aware of the potential costly consequences of delaying compliance, they may be more likely to settle the issue and avoid further charges.
Recommendation 1.12 - Repeal ¤202.004, Property Code, which provides that a court may assess civil damages up to $200 a day for deed restriction violations.
Although most POAs do not ultimately seek such damages, some associations cite this statute when they notify owners of violations which leads to unnecessary adversarial posturing.
Recommendation 1.14 - Enact statutory language authorizing the Office of the County Attorney and/or the Attorney General to investigate complaints and bring suit against POAs in certain instances.
It is unreasonable to expect an
individual owner to bring suit against a POA board to compel them to act
appropriately. Enforcement of statutes should not be left to citizens.
Recommendation 1.16 - Amend Chs. 551 and 552, Government Code, to subject POAs with mandatory dues to the Open Meetings and Public Information Acts.
As most POAs argue, associations carry out many of the duties and responsibilities of small governments and should be recognized as quasi-governments. As such, it is not unreasonable to mandate comparable public disclosures.