Press release from Rep. Dave Cheatham
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has given final approval to legislation authored by State Rep. David Cheatham (D-North Vernon) that would protect the rights of families in the event they have been wronged by homeowner’s associations.
House Enrolled Act 1058 enables families to turn to the Indiana attorney general’s office for help whenever a homeowner’s association fails to live up to contract responsibilities involving such areas as public safety and construction and renovation of streets, sewers, sidewalks and other capital improvements.
“The attorney general will be able to respond to complaints from residents about alleged criminal activity committed by a homeowner’s association or any member of the association’s board of directors,” Cheatham said. “These complaints could include criminal activity like misappropriation of funds and fraud.”
Cheatham said officials would be able to issue injunctions, order restitution and even order the removal of a board member if illegal activity is proven.
This legislation was inspired by a series of incidents that have taken place locally in recent years. Cheatham said many of the concerns centered around complaints from homeowners that neighborhood associations were not living up to contract agreements signed when the residents moved into those neighborhoods.
“Even though fees were paid for those specific purposes, residents were finding that streets were not being maintained properly,” Cheatham said. “Roads were not being paved and plowed and sidewalks were not being built.
“In addition, they complained that they were paying for neighborhood safety patrols that did not exist,” he continued. “Their ultimate concern was that they should have the right to pursue legal action if the failure to perform these contractual duties was because of an illegal diversion of funds or some other criminal activity.
“Since it is difficult for county prosecutors to devote the time and resources to pursue these cases, individual homeowners are left to pay for legal actions out of their own pocket,” Cheatham noted. “It’s a double hit on them, because they are paying their own legal fees and the fees for defense of the homeowner’s association, which often come directly from the dues paid by the resident to the association.”
HEA 1058 gives homeowners the ability to seek justice through Indiana’s court system, with the state’s top law enforcement officer behind them.
“I consider this one of the top consumer protection bills to come through the Indiana General Assembly this session, and I am pleased that Gov. Daniels has agreed to sign it into law,” Cheatham concluded.
HEA 1058 becomes law on July 1, 2011.