Delaware Adopts HOA Ombudsman Approach

Delaware recently adopted a new law that establishes a position of ombudsman for homeowners and homeowner associations and other shared ownership schemes in Delaware.  The purpose of the law was to resolve disputes:

These communities are created by legal documents drafted by the developer and are intended to be managed by those living in these communities. This system can create difficulties for those living in these communities, especially when disputes arise.

As discussed in local coverage, the Delaware office would resolve disputes between boards and homeowners.  However, the office outlined in the law not only resolves disputes, it also provides education, provides election monitoring, accepts complaints, instigates investigations, and even publishes rules and procedures for the state.

It is an interesting approach.  I’m not sure if it would ever fly here in Idaho.  It is difficult to know if the idea would be seen as “big government.”  However, an ombudsman certainly could allay fears (justified or not) that HOAs have too much power, and could help keep minor neighborhood disputes out of court.  Perhaps this is why some other Western states have also opted for ombudsman positions.  For instance, in Nevada the ombudsman is copied on association lien filings as a form of review. In Arizona, the ombudsman plays a dispute resolution role. Colorado has an ombudsman as well, although it seems to be more advisory.  An hoa blog tried to collect comments on the practice, here, but did not end up with a definitive list.

Delaware Sources:

http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS147.nsf/93487d394bc01014882569a4007a4cb7/e0c652a7baefac6485257c39006eb432?OpenDocument

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/10/20/ombudsman-weigh-homeowner-association-disputes/17639817/

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