The Ombudsperson shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) To contact declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, and other interested parties to inform them of the services available through the Office. In addition to any other method used to publicize the Office’s services, the Ombudsperson shall maintain a website containing information about the Office, contact information, the services available through the Office, any information required to be placed on the website by other provisions of this chapter, and any other information deemed appropriate by the Ombudsperson.

(2) To assist declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, and other interested parties in understanding their rights and responsibilities and the processes available to them according to the law, regulations, and documents governing their respective common interest community. The Ombudsperson is not the attorney for declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, or other interested parties; no attorney-client relationship shall be implied or established by the Ombudsperson’s communication with such persons, and the Ombudsperson may not act as or appear to act as an attorney in a legal action brought by such persons.

(3) To organize and conduct meetings to educate declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, and other interested parties about their rights and responsibilities and the processes available to them according to the law, regulations, and documents governing their respective common interest community.

(4) To prepare and publish educational and reference materials about common interest communities and to make these resources available in print and on the Office’s website. The materials about common interest communities shall include general information about the roles, rights, and responsibilities of the various parties, suggestions for the orderly operation of the common interest community association, mechanisms for internal dispute resolution, or any other information deemed appropriate by the Ombudsperson.

(5) To develop and publicize procedures intended to result in fair elections for members and officers of a common interest community association.

(6) To provide monitors and vote counting services to common interest community associations, intended to result in fair elections for members and officers of a common interest community association, when 15% of the total voting interests of a common interest community association, or 6 unit owners, whichever is greater, petition the Ombudsperson to do so.

(7) To provide meetings, mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution as may from time to time be requested by declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, or other interested parties. Nothing in this paragraph shall affect the right of a declarant, common interest community association, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest community, or other interested parties from proceeding pursuant to the procedure established by § 348 of Title 10.

(8) To establish a template of reasonable written procedures for the executive board of a common interest community association to adopt to internally handle complaints from unit owners and other interested parties. Each common interest community association shall adhere to the established written procedures when resolving complaints from unit owners and other interested parties. The procedures established by the Ombudsperson and adhered to by the common interest community association may include the following, in addition to procedures outlined in the common interest community association’s declaration, bylaws, or other governing documents:

a. That the complaint to the common interest community association must be in writing.

b. That a sample complaint form, if any, on which the complaint must be filed shall be provided upon request.

c. That the common interest community association’s complaint written procedure shall include the process by which the complaint shall be delivered to the common interest community association.

d. That the common interest community association shall provide written acknowledgment of the receipt of the complaint to the complainant within 14 days of receipt. Such acknowledgment shall be hand delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the complainant at the address provided or, if consistent with established procedure of the common interest community association, delivered by electronic means, provided the sender retains sufficient proof of the electronic delivery.

e. That any specific documentation that must be provided with the complaint shall be described in the common interest community association’s complaint procedure. In addition, to the extent the complainant has knowledge of the law or regulation applicable to the complaint, the complainant shall provide that reference, as well as the requested action or resolution.

f. That the common interest community association shall have a reasonable, efficient, and timely method for identifying and requesting additional information that is necessary for the complainant to provide in order to continue processing the complaint. The common interest community association shall establish a reasonable timeframe for responding to and disposing of the complaint if the request for information is not received within the required timeframe.

g. That, within a reasonable time prior to the consideration of the complaint, the complainant shall be notified of the date, time, and location that the complaint will be considered. For purposes of this paragraph, “reasonable time” shall mean such time as established by the common interest community association’s complaint procedure, but shall not be less than 7 days prior to the date for consideration of the complaint. Notice of the date, time, and location for consideration of the complaint shall be hand delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the complainant at the address provided or, if consistent with established procedure of the common interest community association, delivered by electronic means, provided the sender retains sufficient proof of the electronic delivery.

h. That after the final determination is made, the written notice of the final determination shall within 14 days be hand-delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the complainant at the address provided or, if consistent with established procedure of the common interest community association, delivered by electronic means, provided the sender retains sufficient proof of the electronic delivery.

i. That the notice of final determination shall be dated as of the date of issuance and include specific citations to the common interest community association’s declaration, bylaws, or other governing documents, or to an applicable law or regulation that led to the final determination, as well as the registration number for the common interest community association. If applicable, the name and license number of the common interest community manager shall also be provided.

(9) To receive complaints from declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, or other interested parties regarding potential violations of the law, regulations, or documents governing their respective common interest community. Prior to submitting a complaint to the Ombudsperson, complainants must complete the process established by the Ombudsperson and adopted by the executive board of a common interest community association pursuant to paragraph (8) of this section and must include a copy of the final determination with the complaint filed to the Ombudsperson.

(10) To investigate any complaint received and, if meritorious and appropriate, to provide meetings, mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to those parties involved in order to assist in the resolution of the complaint.

(11) To refer meritorious violations of existing Delaware law to the Attorney General or other appropriate law-enforcement agency for prosecution.

(12) To subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance and testimony, administer oaths and affirmations, take evidence and require by subpoena the production of books, papers, records or other evidence needed for the exercise of the powers or the performance of the duties vested in the Ombudsperson by this section. The power contained in this paragraph may also be exercised by any other employee of the Office who is a member in good standing of the Bar of this State.

(13) To establish and publish, in print and on the Office’s website, procedural rules for meetings, mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution organized pursuant to this section.

(14) To establish and publish, in print and on the Office’s website, procedures and forms for accepting complaints from declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, or other interested parties regarding potential violations of the law, regulations, or documents governing their respective common interest community.

(15) To establish: fees for meetings, mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution; election monitoring; vote counting; or other services as provided by the Ombudsperson pursuant to this section. The amount to be charged for each fee imposed under this paragraph shall approximate and reasonably reflect all costs necessary to defray the expenses related to providing these services.

(16) To make an annual report of the Office’s activities to the Governor, the Attorney General, the General Assembly, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on or before December 1 of each year. A copy of the report shall be provided to the Director of the Division of Research. Each such report shall contain:

a. Statistics on the number of inquiries and complaints handled by the Office;

b. Information on education and outreach efforts by the Office;

c. Concerns expressed to the Office by declarants, common interest community associations, the executive board of a common interest community association, unit owners in common interest communities, or other interested parties;

d. Legal developments impacting common interest communities;

e. Recommendations for changes to Delaware law or rules of court procedure designed to improve the regulation and operation of common interest communities made by the Ombudsperson and the Common Interest Community Advisory Council;

f. Any other information deemed appropriate by the Ombudsperson.

(17) To organize and hold public meetings as necessary to gain a comprehensive sense of the issues facing common interest communities in this State. When such meetings are held, at least 1 meeting shall be held in each county at a convenient place within each county. When such meetings are held, the information obtained from these meetings shall be made part of the report issued pursuant to paragraph (15) of this section.

(18) To perform any other function necessary to fulfill the powers and duties outlined in this section.

(19) To direct the work of the Office consistent with the powers and duties established by this section.

(20) To employ and supervise staff necessary to assist in carrying out the powers and duties established by this section, within the limitations of funds appropriated by the General Assembly.

79 Del. Laws, c. 408, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Terms Used In Delaware Code Title 29 Sec. 2544

  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • Director: as used in this chapter refers to the Director of the Division of Consumer Protection and includes any designee. See Delaware Code Title 29 Sec. 2517
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • State: means the State of Delaware; and when applied to different parts of the United States, it includes the District of Columbia and the several territories and possessions of the United States. See Delaware Code Title 6 Sec. 4307
  • Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
  • Year: means a calendar year, and is equivalent to the words "year of our Lord. See Delaware Code Title 6 Sec. 4307