2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE, HB 155
By Michael Johnson, CMCA, AMS, PCAM; LAC Vice-Chair;
CEO, FCS Community Management, AAMC – Diamond Sponsor 2020
In August 2019, LAC was invited to testify in an interim committee hearing on HOA issues raised by Representative Cheryl Acton (West Jordan). Rep. Acton and LAC did not have an opportunity to meet prior to the interim hearing. At the hearing she had several pages of HOA related regulations copied and pasted from other states. Rep. Acton testified the items were from a constituent who had trouble getting records from their HOA.
Some of Rep. Action’s ideas presented to the interim committee in August 2019 included establishing an HOA Ombudsman Office similar to the failed offices in Nevada and other states. This type of government over-regulation in other states has failed because of the expensive costs of an additional bureaucracy and commissions and employees excluding anyone from the community association industry being involved. The majority of homeowner complaints come from homeowners not understanding the community’s governing documents agreed to by purchasing the home.
Rep. Acton, unaware of Utah’s current association statutes, also proposed making association records easier to access. Fortunately, the interim committee allowed us the latitude to educate and inform as to the records access laws which had just passed during the 2019 regular session. Leaving the Capitol, we felt the concerns had been alleviated.
A week before the beginning of the 2020 general session, LAC was surprised to learn Rep. Acton had filed a new bill related to the same issues discussed in the 2019 interim committee hearing. While significantly truncated, the original bill still failed to address any new issues and needs. Rep. Acton was kind enough to meet with members of the LAC in her Capitol office before the session and allowed our input on revised language.
Once the session began, HB 155 was presented and began the legislative process. HB 155 went through multiple substitutions and finally a bill, against the general wishes of LAC, was passed and became law. What is the new law?
For both condominiums (57-8-6.1) and other community association (57-8a-105.1) this legislation requires associations to provide “a copy of the association’s recorded governing documents” (which is already mentioned in existing statutes) and to provide “a link or other access point to the department’s educational materials” which is the other half of Rep. Acton’s bill; a requirement the Utah Department of Commerce “publish educational materials on the department’s website providing, in simple and easy to understand language, a brief overview of state law governing associations, including a description of the rights and responsibilities” of association’s to provide recorded governing documents and “instructions regarding how an association may be organized and dismantled.”
This new law is nothing too onerous but is a prime example of unnecessary legislation which is repetitive of already existing statutes. The community association page on the Utah Department of Commerce’s website is something new and LAC has reached out to the Department of Commerce to help write and publish a web page with helpful Utah community association information.