A. The Board shall administer the provisions of this chapter pursuant to the powers conferred by § 54.1-2349 and this chapter.
B. The Director in accordance with § 54.1-303 shall appoint a Common Interest Community Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) and shall establish the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman. The Ombudsman shall be a member in good standing in the Virginia State Bar. All state agencies shall assist and cooperate with the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman in the performance of its duties under this chapter. The expenses for the operations of the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman, including the compensation paid to the Ombudsman, shall be paid first from interest earned on deposits constituting the fund and the balance from the moneys collected annually in the fund.
C. The Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman shall:
1. Assist members in understanding their rights and the processes available to them according to the laws and regulations governing common interest communities;
2. Answer inquiries from members and other citizens by telephone, mail, electronic mail, and in person;
3. Provide to members and other citizens information concerning common interest communities upon request;
4. Make available, either separately or through an existing Internet website utilized by the Director, information as set forth in subdivision 3 and such additional information as may be deemed appropriate;
6. In conjunction with complaint and inquiry data maintained by the Director, maintain data on inquiries received, the types of assistance requested, notices of final adverse decisions received, any actions taken, and the disposition of each such matter;
7. Upon request, assist members in understanding the rights and processes available under the laws and regulations governing common interest communities and provide referrals to public and private agencies offering alternative dispute resolution services, with a goal of reducing and resolving conflicts among associations and their members;
8. Ensure that members have access to the services provided through the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman and that the members receive timely responses from the representatives of the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman to the inquiries;
9. Upon request to the Director by (i) any of the standing committees of the General Assembly having jurisdiction over common interest communities or (ii) the Housing Commission, provide to the Director for dissemination to the requesting parties assessments of proposed and existing common interest community laws and other studies of common interest community issues;
10. Monitor changes in federal and state laws relating to common interest communities;
11. Provide information to the Director that will permit the Director to report annually on the activities of the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman to the standing committees of the General Assembly having jurisdiction over common interest communities and to the Housing Commission. The Director’s report shall be filed by December 1 of each year, and shall include a summary of significant new developments in federal and state laws relating to common interest communities each year; and
12. Carry out activities as the Board determines to be appropriate.
D. The Board may use the remainder of the interest earned on the balance of the fund and of the moneys collected annually and deposited in the fund for financing or promoting the following:
1. Information and research in the field of common interest community management and operation;
2. Expeditious and inexpensive procedures for resolving complaints about an association from members of the association or other citizens;
3. Seminars and educational programs designed to address topics of concern to community associations; and
4. Other programs deemed necessary and proper to accomplish the purpose of this chapter.
E. The Board shall establish by regulation a requirement that each association shall establish reasonable procedures for the resolution of written complaints from the members of the association and other citizens. Each association shall adhere to the written procedures established pursuant to this subsection when resolving association member and citizen complaints. The procedures shall include but not be limited to the following:
1. A record of each complaint shall be maintained for no less than one year after the association acts upon the complaint.
2. Such association shall provide complaint forms or written procedures to be given to persons who wish to register written complaints. The forms or procedures shall include the address and telephone number of the association or its common interest community manager to which complaints shall be directed and the mailing address, telephone number, and electronic mail address of the Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman. The forms and written procedures shall include a clear and understandable description of the complainant’s right to give notice of adverse decisions pursuant to this section.
F. A complainant may give notice to the Board of any final adverse decision in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board. The notice shall be filed within 30 days of the final adverse decision, shall be in writing on forms prescribed by the Board, shall include copies of all records pertinent to the decision, and shall be accompanied by a $ 25 filing fee. The fee shall be collected by the Director and paid directly into the state treasury and credited to the Common Interest Community Management Information Fund, § 55-530.1. The Board may, for good cause shown, waive or refund the filing fee upon a finding that payment of the filing fee will cause undue financial hardship for the member. The Director shall provide a copy of the written notice to the association that made the final adverse decision.
G. The Director or his designee may request additional information concerning any notice of final adverse decision from the association that made the final adverse decision. The association shall provide such information to the Director within a reasonable time upon request. If the Director upon review determines that the final adverse decision may be in conflict with laws or regulations governing common interest communities or interpretations thereof by the Board, the Director may, in his sole discretion, provide the complainant and the association with information concerning such laws or regulations governing common interest communities or interpretations thereof by the Board. The determination of whether the final adverse decision may be in conflict with laws or regulations governing common interest communities or interpretations thereof by the Board shall be a matter within the sole discretion of the Director, whose decision is final and not subject to further review. The determination of the Director shall not be binding upon the complainant or the association that made the final adverse decision.
H. The Board shall issue a certificate of filing to each association which has properly filed in accordance with this title. The certificate shall include the date of registration and a unique registration number assigned by the Board.
I. The Board may prescribe regulations which shall be adopted, amended or repealed in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) to accomplish the purpose of this chapter.
1993, c. 958; 1997, c. 222; 1998, c. 463; 2001, c. 816; 2008, cc. 851, 871; 2010, cc. 59, 208; 2012, cc. 481, 797.