What are policies and why do they exist? The purpose of policies is to set forth a process to be followed with respect to various issues. A policy, in most cases, is a safety net for associations to ensure everyone is being treated the same and the same processes are followed every time. If an association is accused of discrimination or non-uniform treatment of owners, the best defense is to have a written policy the association can point to and tell a judge, “We follow the steps set forth in this policy every time this issue comes up to ensure we treat all owners exactly the same.”
Nine “good governance” policies have been mandated by the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) and must be adopted by associations in Colorado. However, there are so many more policies that have not been mandated, but can be essential to an association’s day-to-day activities, which are never adopted by boards because they either don’t know they exist, or because they don’t understand the importance of them.
Below are some policies, and their descriptions, we consider to be essential for the well-being and proper functioning of associations:
- Insurance Claims Submissions Policy: This policy addresses the process of submitting homeowner claims to associations’ insurance carriers. Because CCIOA treats owners as additional insureds under an association’s policy, this policy can help associations manage owners who continuously demand claims be submitted on their behalf.
- Deductible Policy: Even when an association submits a claim, the question typically exists of who pays the deductible. This policy addresses the process for determining who is responsible for the deductible amount.
- Retention and Destruction of Records: This policy sets forth timelines for how long various association records are retained and when they will be destroyed. This policy helps associations defend claims alleging they purposely destroyed records or “evidence”.
- Virtual Meetings: In this day and age, virtual meetings have become the norm, but nobody is sure on how they should work. This policy is intended to supplement the conduct of meeting policy and set forth the process for calling and conducting virtual board and membership meetings.
- Drone Policy: To the extent an association receiving complaints about drones in the community and allegations of privacy invasions, this policy sets forth what is, and is not, allowed when it comes to flying drones in the association.
- Political Signs: Although CCIOA protects political signs, associations can still regulate certain things about political signs, such as timing, size, and placement. However, without having a written policy in place, an association has nothing to base such regulation on. Therefore, this policy is a must during election season.
- Reasonable Accommodation/Modification Policy: Associations are oftentimes accused of discrimination based on disability when an owner does not get a parking space closer to his/her unit or is not allowed to bring his/her emotional assistance turkey into the community. This policy sets forth a process for requesting reasonable accommodations and modifications by residents, the process for reviewing the requests, and making decisions on same.
- Social Media Policy: Any association with a social media site (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and the like) should have this policy in place to manage owner expectations of same. For example, the policy should address who may post on the site, who can comment, and who has editing rights.
By no means is the above list exhaustive and there are many more policies out there that may be adopted to help associations function. So if your community would like written clarification on a process it utilizes, ask the community’s legal counsel if such policy may be drafted.
Please do not hesitate to contact an Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999 or at [email protected] if you have any additional questions about policies.