State Adds New Services to Assist Condo Owners
The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Real Estate Commission will launch two new services to help Hawaiʻi condominium owners.
The Real Estate Commission created a new email subscription list for unit owners and the general public to provide greater access to and wider distribution of educational materials. REC plans to email materials, including the quarterly condominium bulletin and information on changes to the condominium law, and other useful information. In addition, REC may occasionally send out surveys to gather information on condominium interests and issues.
Currently, information is only provided to the designated contact person listed on the association’s biennial registration form.
“With more and more Hawaiʻi residents buying and moving into condominiums every year, we are taking steps to make sure people who own, live and manage condominiums have the information they need in a form that’s easier to access.” said REC Supervising Executive Officer Neil Fujitani.
Interested parties may subscribe to the REC email here.
As passed in Act 187 by the 2013 Legislature, REC will also promote the start of its evaluative mediation service as a means of dispute resolution available to condominium owners. While the REC has supported and subsidized facilitative mediation since 1992, the addition of evaluative mediation gives condominium owners a stronger tool for resolving disputes, while supporting the underlying philosophy of the state’s condominium law, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Chapter 514B, of self-enforcement by the condominium owners.
Evaluative mediation is a style of mediation that employs trained mediators who have subject matter expertise in various areas of the law (condominium law, construction or contract law for example).
Additionally, the mediators are familiar with the relevant case law and may make recommendations regarding the strength of each party’s position and the likelihood of either party prevailing in court or in an administrative hearing.
Evaluative mediators facilitate discussion between the parties and assist in their attempts to reach an agreement. Many of the practitioners of evaluative mediation are active attorneys and retired judges.
Evaluative mediation is open to any condominium owner of a registered condominium association. In anticipation of the July 1, 2015, startup date, REC has entered into agreements with four providers of evaluative mediation:
- The Mediation Center of the Pacific Inc. (MCP)
- Dispute Prevention and Resolution Inc. (DPR)
- Crumpton Collaborative Solutions LLC (Charles “Chuck” Crumpton)
- Lou Chang, Esq., A Law Corporation
All four providers have extensive experience in mediation and arbitration.
The cost to users, except for a one hour payment by all parties, is subsidized by the Condominium Education Trust Fund. The maximum amount per mediation is set at $3,000 unless the mediator determines the parties would benefit from additional mediation time. Under this program, each party would be responsible for the first hour of mediation ($375).
“The evaluative approach to mediation provides a mediator with enhanced tools to help the parties reach a resolution,” said Fujitani. “The evaluative mediators may be chosen for their skills as a mediator, as well as for their knowledge of the relevant case law, and subject matter expertise of the laws governing condominium associations.”
The Real Estate Branch, as part of the Professional and Vocational Licensing Division, assists the Real Estate Commission in carrying out its responsibility for the education, licensure and discipline of real estate licensees; registration of condominium projects, condominium associations, condominium managing agents and condominium hotel operators; and intervening in court cases involving the real estate recovery fund.