HOA Underground Utilities

Your Homeowners Association may be required to Register with Colorado 811

There are numerous Homeowners Associations throughout the City that have private underground improvements installed within the public rights-of-way. Public rights-of-way include both the improved streets and unimproved shoulders and ditches, etc.   These improvements have been installed throughout the years, mostly at the time the subdivisions were being built and include facilities such as irrigation and power lines to landscaped areas and lighted signs.  Because these are private improvements and were installed at a time before the City had mechanisms in place to track and approve these facilities, in most cases the City has no record of where these improvements exist and to which HOA they may belong to.    

Damage to these private improvements continues to increase.  With recent changes in the state law the City wants to make you aware of your HOA’s responsibility if you do have improvements within the public right-of-way.   If damage occurs to these improvements and the HOA has not registered with 811 and has not properly located these facilities the City and utility companies cannot be held liable for the cost to repair or replace.

In brief, HOA’s are generally required to be registered with the Colorado Notification Association (811), if they own underground pipes, cable, wires, such as power and irrigation (known as underground facilities) that cross or are located within public rights-of-way and streets in accordance with state law.  This includes all private underground improvements. 

The law states that… any owner/operator that fails to register or properly locate such facilities shall be presumably liable for any resulting cost or damage incurred by the excavator or facility owner/operator and for injury or damage to persons or property as set forth in state law. If your HOA chooses to not register with 811 or fails to locate HOA facilities properly, the excavator, utility company and City cannot be held responsible for any costs related to damage to private underground improvements. If these HOA improvements cause damage or injury to anyone who has lawfully requested locates through 811 and is legally working in the public right-of-way further liability and penalties could be borne by the HOA. 

The City does not have documentation or record of any HOA irrigation, lighted signs, or other underground improvements. If your facilities are not registered and properly located as required and become damaged during any legally permitted work being performed within the right-of-way, the HOA assumes full responsibility for damages and repairs.  This includes work being performed by or on behalf of the City.  The City cannot assist with the cost to repair these facilities if they are not properly registered with 811 and located properly when required.  

If your HOA facilities are located within a street or right-of-way the City encourages you to join 811.  The cost of a single repair may exceed the annual cost of participating in the program. The yearly cost for the program will vary depending how many times you are required to locate your facilities, and how extensive your facilities are within the right-of-way.   The City continues to see a rise in the number of right-of-way permits being issued for utility improvements and repairs each year.  This will increase the chances that your HOA’s improvements will become damaged and need costly repairs.  

It is the HOA’s responsibility to first locate and document (map) the location of these improvements, register with 811, and then properly locate their facilities when a locate request is generated by 811. Notifications are sent out based on information that is provided to 811. Each time a request is made in the area of the HOA’s improvements 811 will notify the designated contact and it is the HOA’s responsibility to locate and mark the improvements at the associations cost. Colorado 811 has a list of private locate companies that can be hired by your HOA to perform this work if desired.  The cost for these services is the responsibility of the HOA.

C.R.S. § 9-1.5-104.5 provides that an owner or operator of an underground facility who does not join the 811 Notification Association shall have strict liability for any cost or damage incurred by the excavator as a result of the owner’s failure to comply with 811 registration, as well as be subject to penalties. An exception to the registration requirements exists stating that membership with 811 does not apply to owners of underground facilities where no part of their facilities are located under a public street, county road, alley, or right-of-way dedicated to public use.  

For registration information and requirements contact 811 directly. Information can be found on their website at https://www.colorado811.org/.     

If you have any questions related to City requirements or need further clarification please contact me directly, I would be glad to discuss this further.  If you are not the proper contact person for your HOA please let us know and if possible provide us with the correct contact information.  Your help in this matter is very much appreciated. If your HOA has no underground facilities within any public right-of-way or street, then you can disregard this notification.  

Jay Goldie

Deputy City Manager - Public Works Director