Press release from State Rep. Randy Frye
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Legislation authored by State Rep. David Cheatham (D-North Vernon) that would protect the rights of families against illegal activities committed by homeowner’s associations has moved one step closer to approval in the Indiana Senate.
Members of the Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee unanimously passed House Bill 1058, which enables families to turn to the Indiana attorney general for help when a homeowner’s association fails to live up to contract responsibilities involving such areas as public safety and capital improvements.
“Through this bill, the attorney general will be able to respond to complaints about alleged criminal activity committed by a homeowner’s association or any member of the group’s board of directors,” Cheatham said. “These complaints could include misappropriation of funds, some type of fraud or other criminal activity.”
If a court case would result in determination of guilt, Cheatham said officials would be able to issue injunctions, order restitution and even order the removal of a board member.
The measure was inspired by recent incidents brought to his attention by constituents, many of whom were concerned that neighborhood associations were not living up to the requirement of the contracts that were signed by homeowners.
“Residents are finding that their streets are not being paved in the summer or plowed in the winter, or that there are no neighborhood safety patrols, even though they have paid fees for those very purposes,” Cheatham said. “If these duties are not being performed because of an illegal diversion of funds, then residents should have the right to pursue some sort of legal action.
“However, it is difficult for local prosecutors to devote the time and resources to pursue these cases, which leaves the cost of legal action to the individual homeowners,” he added. “Often, they end up paying double the costs, since they are not only paying their own legal fees, but the fees for defense of the homeowner’s association, which often come directly from the dues paid by the resident to the association.
“Since these are clearly cases where some type of fraud or other illegal activity has taken place, the homeowner should have the right to seek justice through our court system,” Cheatham concluded. “This legislation provides them with a way to use an impartial government agency to get relief as part of consumer protection.”
House Bill 1058 now moves to the full Senate for consideration. It is sponsored by State Sens. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville) and Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury).