Office of the Ombudsperson for the Common Interest Community
The General Assembly created the Office of the Ombudsperson for the Common Interest Community in the Department of Justice in August 2014. The purpose of the Office is to assist members of residential “common interest communities” to understand their rights and responsibilities and where possible, to resolve disputes without use of the judicial system.
What is an Ombudsperson?
An ombudsperson (or ombudsman) is someone, such as a government official, who receives, reports on, and investigates complaints and tries to deal with problems fairly.
The Common Interest Community Ombudsperson will assist members of common interest communities in understanding their rights and responsibilities and the processes available to them according to the law, regulations and documents governing their respective common interest communities.
Who is Served by the Office of the Ombudsperson?
The members of the Common Interest Community served by the Ombudsperson include:
- Home owners or “unit owners” in common interest communities;
- Developers or “declarants” who “declare” the deed restrictions;
- Homeowners’ associations, condominium or cooperative councils, and maintenance corporations;
- Executive boards of common interest community association s ; and
- Other interested parties.
What is the Purpose of the Office of the Ombudsperson?
- The General Assembly stated its purpose for creating the Office:
- In Delaware, county and municipal governments have required that land developers create common interest communities to administer, maintain, or improve common elements in the community such as pools, community centers, stormwater management systems, or other common space or infrastructure. These communities are created by legal documents drafted by the developer and are intended to be managed by those living in these communities. This system can create difficulties for those living in these communities, especially when disputes arise.
- This bill [creates] an Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman. The bill [empowers] the Ombudsman to assist common interest communities to understand their rights and responsibilities and to resolve disputes without recourse to the judicial system.
- The bill …also [creates] a Common Interest Community Advisory Council to advise and assist the Ombudsman and to undertake a review of the current common interest community system and make recommendations to the Ombudsman for changes to Delaware law and rules of court procedure to improve the system, with the hope these recommendations would be incorporated into legislation by the 148th General Assembly.
- Synopsis, House Bill No. 308 (April 24, 2014) available at: legis.delaware.gov
The Act requires the Ombudsperson to establish and publicize an Internal Dispute Resolution Process required if an association has none of its own, and a Fair Election Procedure. These documents are available throughout this webpage with additional information.
Christopher J. Curtin
Deputy Attorney General
Common Interest Community Ombudsperson
820 N. French Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Tel: (302) 577-8600
Outside New Castle County: 800-220-5424
Fax: (302) 577-6499