BOULDER, Colo. — Fighting a homeowners association (HOA) in Colorado can be an expensive and time-consuming process- something Kathleen Kryczka found out first-hand when she sued the Steelyards Condominium Association last year.
"I bought through the Boulder affordable housing program in 2005," she said. "And now I'm leaving. As you can see, I'm packing up some of my beloved things."
She took Denver7 on a tour of unfinished repairs, crumbling sidewalks and rotting wood that she says represents years of neglect. Kryczka, a former accountant, says that when she asked for the HOA's financial records, the documents she finally received were incomplete or infuriating.
"They were spending money on holiday lighting, for example," she said. "Everything that we've been paying for that we contract for- bushes, shoveling, ice mitigation, functioning mailboxes- none of it has been happening."
Kryczka says the only way she could get action was by taking her HOA to court, filing a lawsuit claiming negligence. The HOA countersued her for defamation.
In a statement to Contact Denver7, an HOA attorney denied Kryczka's allegations of failure to maintain the property and not releasing financial documentation.
"[Kryczka's] already spent thousands dollars trying to do this. She's drained," said Stan Hrincevich, president of Colorado HOA Forum, a homeowner advocacy group pushing for reform. "Where does she go to make a dispute and have it resolved? In the state of Colorado, the answer is nowhere except a litigious, costly, time-consuming court system."
Hrincevich says unchecked HOA power especially hurts people who can't afford to fight back in court.
"You shouldn't have to fight against a rigged system to live where you are," said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Jefferson, who is sponsoring one of several HOA reform bills to limit HOA fees and give homeowners out-of-court options.
"It's almost like a dictatorship," said Kryczka.
She says the property management group that has been running her complex is now leaving, in part, because of pressure from residents like her.
"The state needs to regulate HOAs, and we need a way to fight without all these legal fees," said Kryczka.
Still, she says she plans to rent out her condo and travel while still fighting her HOA in court.
"It was a very difficult decision to make," Kryczka said. "And it's been very, very expensive and time-consuming."
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