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I’ve referred to Stan Hrincevich before, but his take on the CAI is one of the best I’ve read. Stan certainly learned from the recent transfer fee fiasco in the Colorado State Legislature that the CAI is not a benign organization. It’s got 50 state legislatures fooled. It’s got the vast majority of the American news media fooled. It’s got unlimited money and power which it uses like a jackhammer to supress the Constitutional rights of homeowners.

With his permission, I’m re-posting his recent analysis of the CAI. Impressive understanding!  And his blogsite is a good one to add to your regular reading list (ColoradoHOAForum.blogspot.com).

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Who or What is the Community Association Institute (CAI): You May be Surprised (a Colorado and Nationwide Perspective)   -Stan Hrincevich

For decades the sole source for Homeowners Association (HOA) information for the media and State Legislature has been the Community Associations Institute (CAI). Why not? Their name implies they represent the concerns of community associations and homeowners. They have been the main/only source sought and invited to the table for input and wisdom on HOA matters by government agencies, legislators, and the media. This group is so well ‘respected’ it has been asked to write or participate in writing HOA legislation to ensure participation of a “knowledgeable and unbiased” authoritative source.

Government regulatory agencies invite this group to write industry rules and regulations which are mostly adopted without challenge. News media people go directly to the CAI whenever an HOA problem surfaces to get a professional opinion as to why the problem arose and to learn the “correct” solution. HOA legislative proposals will see this group’s lobbying machine swarm and be welcomed at the Capitol to ensure the “right” and “workable” legislation is crafted. Visit this organization’s website and read their literature. Unless you study it carefully you would think the CAI altruistically represents homeowners vs. being a trade group that represents the interests of HOA property managers. This group is often invited to legislators’ town hall meetings, without the same courtesy extended to true homeowner groups. CAI spokesmen are represented as the experts and protectors of homeowners’ rights. 

The actions of the CAI, however, reveal it is a well-financed and marketed machine that is the most anti-HOA homeowner group in the country. In Colorado and in other states this group, over the past decades, has legislatively intervened to ensure that HOA laws proposed or passed are watered down to the point that they’re ineffective at protecting homeowners. Their intervention ensures the CAI’s profitability and increases costs to HOA homeowners. This group represents property managers, HOA boards, legal and real estate interests, NOT the homeowners. Recent examples:

…killing an HOA transfer fee bill that costs Colorado homeowners $15 million a year in unjustified and unauthorized fees;

…direct intervention in a property manager licensing bill to ensure it served to sell their educational courses, increase membership and dues, and ensure licensing rules and regulations were reflective of their own legislative proposal that protected the interests of HOA boards and managers;

…opposed any legislation to provide HOA homeowners an affordable and accessible venue to dispute complaints out of court;

…supported a bill to authorize HOAs to levy fees against homeowners even when not authorized to do so in the governing documents;

…opposed limiting fees and add-on charges to HOA homeowner debt;

…opposed full and detailed disclosure of property manager fees assessed on home sellers;

…obstructed legislation to minimize homeowner protections against liens and foreclosure for HOA debt. The list of anti-homeowner actions goes on and on.

Legislative reform and improved governance must begin with dispelling the belief that the CAI represents homeowners. It must disclose this organization’s history and actions in preventing previous attempts at reform. It must curtail the CAI’s influence with government agencies, the media, and the politicians. Finally, groups that truly represent homeowners must be given a chance to offer their perspective at improving HOA governance.

 

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About

Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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