On January 1, 2017, the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act will go into effect. This act allows the Ombudsperson, who is appointed by the state, to handle owner complaints after the owner has followed the complaint procedure within their own Association and receives a final adverse decision by the Board. In order for a unit owner to make a complaint, they must meet various qualifications including that they not owe any funds to the association unless those funds are central to the dispute. The dispute must have occurred within the past two calendar years, being another qualification.
By January 1, 2019 associations must adopt a written policy for resolving complaints made by unit owners. The policy must include the following:
- Sample form upon which owners can make complaints
- Description of the process by which complaints are to be delivered to the association
- Association’s timeline and manner of making final determinations in response to a unit owner’s complaints
- Requirement that the final determination made by the association response to a unit owner’s complaint be in writing, within 180 days after the unit owner’s original complaint, and marked clearly and conspicuously as “final”
The Ombudsperson may not accept requests for resolution of disputes with community association managers, or of disputes for which there is a pending complaint in any court or administrative tribunal.
Every association is required to register with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. A registration is effective for two years, and the initial registration for an association existing on January 1, 2017, is due within one year, or at such later time as the department has adopted rules and forms for registration.
Complaints can’t be filed by unit owners until July 1, 2020, and the law will be automatically repealed July 1, 2022. That said, unit owners and associations will need to be aware of this limited life legislation and its effect on their community.
It is recommended that you reach out to your legal counsel for more information on this Act and to prepare policies for board review/approval. Under some of the attorney retainer programs, this expense is covered.