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Vail Law:Colorado condo owners need to speak Kiowa

Rohn RobbinsVail, CO, Colorado

The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (the acronym, CCIOA, is pronounced Kiowa), as one might suspect, pertains to common interest communities. But, what is a common interest community?Common interest communities include condominiums, gated communities, and cooperatives that are governed by contractual covenants, conditions, and restrictions. Covenants, conditions, and restrictions are, in turn, comprised of certain limitations and rules placed on a group of homes by a builder, developer, neighborhood association and/or homeowner association. All condos and townhomes have covenants, as do most planned unit developments and many established neighborhoods. A planned unit development is both a type of development as well as regulatory process. In the development context, it establishes a means by which large scale land development takes place, defining and controlling uses such as housing, recreational and commercial applications.The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act became effective in 1992 and established a uniform and comprehensive framework for the creation and operation of common interest communities, including the establishment of certain operational requirements. It has been amended by the legislature several times, and each amendment has requiring changes to the governing documents of all associations in the state.An association under this law almost always takes the form of a nonprofit corporation and is comprised of all owners of units in the common interest community. Associations are generally governed by a board of directors elected by the association members.Governance documents under this law are generally comprised of a declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations and statement of policies and procedures. The declaration is, essentially, the basic contract under which the association will operate and to which the association members will be bound. The bylaws are the bylaws of the nonprofit corporation and, like bylaws of any kind, spell out the regulations, ordinances, rules or laws adopted by an association or corporation for its governance. This is the ruling structure for the association. Rules and regulations generally spell out how homeowners are allowed to conduct themselves and use their property. They may include such provisions as restrictions on noise or limit the type and number of pets which may be kept in a unit. The statement of policies and procedures is largely dictated by statute and requires a uniform and consistent means by which various functions of association governance will take place. One of several statements of policies and procedures, for example, deals with how association meetings will be conducted. Another speaks to the assessment of penalties and fines.Because the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act is periodically amended by the legislature, common interest communities must likewise be periodically updated. For example, in 2005 Colorado Senate Bill 05-100 made significant changes to state law concerning homeowners associations and wise associations amended their governing instruments at the time. Those who failed to do so are not in compliance with the, which could result in and there may be legal repercussions.The benefits of ownership in a common interest community are many. In fact, the fastest-gowing form of housing today in the United States is in common interest developments. These benefits include consistency and enforcement of regulations and maintenance of shared amenities that a single owner might not otherwise be able to afford. Common interest communities also involve certain constraints, and demand at least a certain level of conformity. There may be restrictions, for example, on such things as the color you may paint your home. The community is funded by assessments which are used to cover the common expenses such as maintenance and upkeep of the amenities, insurance for commonly-owned structures, security and site management.The law is an attempt to make the governance of common interest communities predictable, generally uniform and fair. It attempts to balance both the benefits and deficits of ownership of quasi-communal living. Like many things, to flower and be most productive, an associations governing documents must from time to time be pruned and their provisions brought up to date. Doing so will ensure compliance with the statute, but will also assure the greatest benefit to all while, hopefully, minimizing the inconveniences that may be associated with bending to the common will. Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. His practice areas include: business and commercial transactions, real estate & development, homeowners associations, family law and divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of Community Focus. Robbins may be reached at 970/926.4461 or at his e-mail address: robbins@colorado.net.


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