Community Voices: “Legislature’s Inaction on HOA’s Reforms will Hurt Seniors”

Note: This article originally appeared in the May 30 edition of the Brighton Standard Blade. Please click here to view the original article on page 10.

According to the state demographer, Colorado now has more citizens over the age of 65 than teenagers. Today, seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of our population, and by 2035, one out of every five Colorado residents—or an estimated 1.3 million people—will be aged 65 or higher. In Adams County alone, our senior population is expected to jump from 62,000 today to nearly 83,000 by the end of this decade.

So why does this matter? To begin with, more than half of Colorado currently lives in a homeowner association. And despite significant housing measures and land use reforms passed by this year’s legislature, including allowing accessory dwelling units that help seniors age in place or downsize, our legislators haven’t done enough to ensure that vulnerable populations – like seniors living on fixed incomes – are protected from predatory foreclosure practices by HOAs. Instead, lawmakers decided to half-step, merely restricting foreclosure filings rather than outright banning them. Talk about missing the mark. 

Without question, HOAs play an important role in maintaining community standards and help keep home values high. But no one should lose their single largest asset because they lacked the ability to pay after accruing a few thousand dollars in interest-bearing fines over a minor violation like a broken fence or damaged gutter. 

At Todd Creek Farms, located just outside of Brighton, predatory foreclosures were a constant threat under the previous HOA board. Several years ago, the then-HOA board levied fines on a widowed public school teacher over a broken fence. When the board continued to levy fines that exceeded her capacity to pay due to her fixed income, she narrowly avoided losing her home. 

In another case, an active service member nearly lost his home over covenant violations that accrued while he was deployed overseas in defense of our country. Although state laws protect service members from these sorts of actions, particularly when they’re serving overseas, the previous HOA board didn’t hesitate to pile on the costs and misery for his family. While the board was ultimately unsuccessful in its efforts to forcibly remove these community members, the damage – both financial and emotional – was significant. 

The legislature’s inaction on predatory foreclosures is especially disappointing for communities like ours that have voted in new boards to reform our covenants and ban foreclosures. Unfortunately, our association of nearly 370 homes has been effectively hijacked by less than two dozen homeowners who have blocked covenant reforms, including a permanent ban on foreclosures. And this is why real HOA reform depends on statutory support that only lawmakers can provide. 

Most HOAs rely on assessments and fines to function, but our community is unique. We hold income-generating assets that benefit everyone, eliminating the need for punitive fines in the name of “upholding community character.”

Three years ago, our community voted overwhelmingly to ban foreclosures, allow solar panels, and update or remove over a dozen covenants conflicting with the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA). That’s when the trouble—and the death threats—started.

A small faction of residents, including the city attorney for Greenwood Village, have initiated costly lawsuits against the HOA board for its efforts to enact meaningful covenant reforms for our community. These lawsuits have forced the homeowner association to spend more than $100,000 in legal fees for the right to reform and ban practices that disproportionately harm seniors. 

Our association’s extreme experience underscores why HOA reform is desperately needed. Boards shouldn’t have to endure death threats or absorb massive legal expenses just to keep people in their homes. It’s high time Governor Polis and the legislature make HOA reform a top priority next session. It’s not just about fixing rules; it’s about protecting our growing senior population and preserving the sanctity of homeownership in Colorado.

Connie Hicks and Stewart Setchfield live in Todd Creek Farms, an HOA located outside Brighton, Colo.

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