Date: May 18, 2017
Subject: Statutory Authority for Homeowners Association
1695 115th Street
Diagonal, Iowa 50845
Dear Mr. Kilgore:
This opinion is in response to your letter of April 18, 2017, requesting an opinion from the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.6 and rule 497—1.2. We note at the outset that IPIB’s jurisdiction is limited to the application of Iowa Code chapters 21, 22, and 23, and rules in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 497. Advice in a Board opinion, if followed, constitutes a defense to a subsequent complaint based on the same facts and circumstances.
FACTUAL STATEMENT: You advise that homeowner associations can “mandate membership and acquiescence in the payment of fees as a precursor to owning property within the boundaries of a designated/defined area.” You further state: “Without disputing a citizen’s free will right to enter into contracts, the entity presumably becomes accountable as government thereby”, referencing IPIB Advisory Opinion 2015-07.
- Is there an unequivocal statutory basis for a Homeowners Association?
- Which of the statutory “rules of conduct” applicable to government entities are also applicable to Homeowners Associations?
Questions #1 is not under the jurisdiction of the Board. Iowa Code chapters 21, 22, and 23 do not speak to laws governing all homeowner associations in Iowa.
As to Question #2, whether a specific homeowner association can be defined as a ‘governmental body’ by Iowa Code section 21.2(1) or a ‘government body’ pursuant to Iowa Code section 22.1(1), would need to be addressed on a case-by-case, factual basis.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(3), a person who has received a board opinion may, within 30 days after the issuance of the opinion, request modification or reconsideration of the opinion. A request for modification or reconsideration shall be deemed denied unless the board acts upon the request within 60 days of receipt of the request. The IPIB may take up modification or reconsideration of an advisory opinion on its own motion within 30 days after the issuance of an opinion.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(5), a person who has received a board opinion or advice may petition for a declaratory order pursuant to Iowa Code section 17A.9. The IPIB may refuse to issue a declaratory order to a person who has previously received a board opinion on the same question, unless the requestor demonstrates a significant change in circumstances from those in the board opinion.
BY DIRECTION AND VOTE OF THE BOARD
Suzan Stewart, Chair
E. J. Giovannetti
Margaret E. Johnson, Interim Executive Director