The Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman, established pursuant to Virginia Code §55-530, offers assistance and information to members of Virginia community associations. The Ombudsman’s website has a significant amount of available information and can be accessed here. However, as with all of the other information on our webpage, nothing should be substituted for retaining experienced legal counsel to help you navigate the thicket of community association law. The Office is run by the Common Interest Community Ombudsman (“Ombudsman”), who is a Virginia attorney appointed by the Director of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
One of the Ombudsman’s chief functions is to receive and review notices of final adverse decisions from the complaint procedures required under the Common Interest Community Ombudsman Regulations (“Regulations”), which you can learn more about here. The complaint procedure provides a process through which members of a community or of the public may resolve a dispute regarding an association’s compliance with the laws and regulations affecting them. Importantly, the scope of this procedure is very narrow and only applies to alleged wrongdoing involving the Regulations and certain portions of the Virginia code affecting associations; the complaint procedure does not apply to an association’s violation of its own governing documents.
Once a complaint is made against an association pursuant to its established complaint procedure required by the Regulations, the association will determine whether a violation of Virginia common interest community law or regulations has occurred. If the decision is adverse to the complainant, then the complainant may provide notice of the final adverse decision adverse to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will then review the decision and accompanying materials and issue a determination as to whether there was a violation of the law or regulations.
The determinations represent the Ombudsman’s analysis of the application of particular facts and circumstances presented by a final adverse decision filed with the Ombudsman to common interest community laws and regulations. Importantly, Ombudsman determinations are not considered to be the law and they are not binding on associations or any court in Virginia.
The Ombudsman has issued a number of determinations reviewing adverse decisions from individuals who believed a common interest communities, such as condominium unit owners, homeowners’, and property owners’ associations, violated common interest community laws or regulations. Below is a list of those determinations using a chart identifying the topic/law at issue in the opinion, briefly summarizing the Ombudsman’s determination, and providing a link to the determination.