As posted on the Colorado Homeowners Association Forum Website
Who or What is the Community Association Institute (CAI):
You May be Surprised (a Colorado and Nationwide Perspective)
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are comprised of three entities: home owners, the HOA Board and its’ legal counsel, and the property management company (PMC). Problems can arise from any of these but for those who follow HOA issues the involvement of PMCs can be most problematic. PMCs affect HOA governance with their direct involvement in operational and financial matters and through their trade organization, the Community Association Institute (CAI), which has undue influence in HOA legislative activities.
For decades the sole source for Homeowners Association (HOA) information for the media and State Legislature has been the CAI. Why not? Their name implies they represent the concerns of community associations and home owners: aka HOAs. 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 and mostly adopt without challenge. The media goes directly to the CAI whenever an HOA problem surfaces to get the reason why and for them to provide a “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 web site and read their literature. Unless you do so carefully you would think they altruistically represent home owners vs being the trade group that represents HOA property manager interests. This group is often invited to Legislator’s Town Hall Meetings (without the same courtesy extended to home owner groups) and represented as the expert and protector of home owner’s rights.
The actions of the CAI, however, reveal it is a well-financed and marketed machine that is the most anti-HOA home owner group in the country. In Colorado, and in other States, over the past decades this group has legislatively intervened to ensure HOA laws proposed or passed have been watered down to be ineffective from the home owners perspective and/or written to ensure CAI’s profitability and increase costs to HOA home owners. This group represents property managers, HOA Boards, legal and real estate interests, NOT home owners. Recent examples: killing an HOA Transfer Fee Bill that costs home owners $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
HOA Boards and property manager interests; opposed any legislation to provide HOA home owners an affordable and accessible venue to dispute complaints out of court; supported a Bill to authorize HOA’s to levy fees against home owners even when not authorized to do so in the governing documents; opposed limiting fees and add-on charges to HOA home owner debt; opposed full and detailed disclosure of property manager fees assessed on home sellers; obstructed legislation to minimize home owner protections against liens and foreclosure for HOA debt; and the list goes on and all anti-home owner.
In 1989, California homeowners discovered an advertisement put out the CAI headlined ‘Strike It Rich’ – an invitation to other vendors and politicians to come to their trade meetings to learn about financial opportunities available to them in planned (HOA) communities. A similar ad appeared again in 2007 in Illinois, with an invitation to ‘Hit the Jackpot with Community Living’. (This paragraph added by JCTadmin.)
The beginning to HOA legislative reform and improved governance begins with dispelling the belief that the CAI represents home owners; revealing their history and actions in HOA legislative reform; curtailing the CAI’s influence with our Government agencies, media, and legislators; and having HOA home owner groups recognized in our legislature and in the media to offer a home owner centric perspective to improving HOA governance.