Since 2012, all associations have been required by Virginia law to have a complaint procedure in place so that owners have a way to submit written complaints to their association board of directors. The Common Interest Community Ombudsman Regulations provide specific ways in which associations must deal with owner complaints and time frames for responding to owner’s written complaints. These Regulations also provide a means for owners to submit certain complaints to the CIC Board Ombudsman when an association has either not responded to an owner’s complaint or the association has responded with a written determination that denies the corrective action sought by the owner (known as a “Final Adverse Decision”).
There is significant misunderstanding about the types of complaints which are authorized by these Regulations. Owners do not have the right to submit complaints to the Ombudsman for every issue that bothers them about how their Board manages the affairs of the association. A fairly large number of the complaints to the Ombudsman have not pertained to matters that are either reviewable or actionable by the CIC Board. Owners also do not have the right to submit complaints to the Ombudsman unless and until they have first submitted a complaint to their association and either not received a response or received a Final Adverse Decision.
Pursuant to the CIC Ombudsman Regulations, the Ombudsman can only review and respond to complaints that are alleging a violation of Common Interest Community statutes or regulations (the Condominium Act, the Property Owners Association Act, The Real Estate Cooperative Act and regulations pertaining to these various Acts). The Ombudsman’s office cannot respond to complaints regarding violations of an association’s declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations, architectural guidelines or any other internal document that governs an association. The Ombudsman Regulations can be found at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title18/agency48/chapter70/.