While some people prefer to live in detached single homes, others prefer the convenience of living in gated communities or condominium. If your preference is moving into a ready made community, you will need to pay homeowner association (HOA) dues as well as follow the laws as put in place by the HOA. It is, therefore, crucial that you check a building’s HOA before purchase. Read carefully through the covenants, conditions, and restrictions and also take an initiative to find out if there are any lawsuits between the homeowners and the association. If present, find out how many they are and of what nature before making your final decision. Once you are aware of what rules and regulations you have to follow as an owner, you can avoid penalties and fines. HOA attorneys have become quite crucial in maintaining regulations within HOA’s. Attorneys help both the HOA and the home owners in various ways.
Why you should hire an attorney for representation for HOA
Help in drafting HOA founding and governing documents
When forming an HOA for the first time, various legal documents are to be written. This ensures that HOA actions comply with the state law. It also sets guidelines for management of the community. The most important documents include the HOAs articles of corporation, covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), bylaws and less formal rules and regulations.
These documents set rules for basically everything in the community. From how many people will be on the board, to how meetings are to be conducted, whether pets are allowed or even if the bylaws can be amended. Given that all homeowners and the HOA will be legally bound to these rules and will from time to time seek their guidance, it is vital that these documents are written by a professional. Many HOAs will, therefore, hire an experienced HOA attorney, who will draft or review the documents.
HOA attorneys represent homeowners’ interest
In some instances, a construction defect may be detected long after the occupation and drafting of the legal documents. In cases like these, the property developer is legally responsible for these defects and should cater for any necessary repairs. The developer may accept responsibilities and take action without being contacted by the attorney. However, if no action is taken and the defects are directly or indirectly affecting the homeowners, the association should hire an attorney to help take legal action against the developer.
In cases where the defects affect you individually, the HOA may or may not cover the expenses of an attorney. If they do not cover the costs, it is advisable that you hire one yourself for assistance.
Help with ongoing management issues
HOAs governing documents are written in simple English, for anyone to understand. Sometimes expert opinion may be needed when there is a dispute between a homeowner and an HOA board member. An attorney comes in and helps both understand the rules in the relevant documents. This helps identify who is against the HOAs rules and regulations. The attorney also takes it as his or her role to explain the HOAs obligations under state and federal law.
Collect fees and assessments
HOAs may at times consider hiring an attorney to collect assessments and outstanding fees from homeowners who are not cooperating. Having an attorney follow up on collections proves to be futile as he or she knows how to obtain court judgments and liens on defaulted payments. When some homeowners fail to pay their share, it affects the entire community, so the HOA attorney takes it as his duty to maintain the well-being of the community as a whole.
Why you should hire an attorney for representation against HOA actions
In some instances, homeowners are taken advantage of by an HOA or its attorney. You may need to get your attorney with experience in HOA to help you out.
For construction defects that affect individual properties, the HOA may at times cover and at other times not cover the attorney fees. An attorney will help you know if you should get the HOA legal representation. In case the rules and regulations state that you cover your attorney fees, the attorney will help you take legal action against the developer.
Some other common disputes that you may have against HOAs that would warrant you getting an attorney include;
- Changes to HOA rules and regulations
- Landscape issues
- Failure to maintain common areas
- Property encroachment (fences, trees, decks, additional rooms)
- Breach of agreements with neighbors
- Open area spaces and blocking views
Enforcement of association governing documents
In case you are facing a major dispute and believe that your HOA actions are out of line, you can take legal action. The HOA may be favoring some homeowners over others. The association might be asking you to take an action which is not covered in the CC&Rs. The HOA is a legal entity and you can therefore file a lawsuit against it in court. The court can order the HOA to obey its rules or even decide that an unfair rule is removed from the governing documents. However, it is advisable that before protesting an HOA action against you make sure to carefully review the CC&Rs and see if your actions are allowed.
Homeowners’ associations exist for the benefit of owners. The governing board is made up of volunteers from the community, who may sometimes also experience difficulties interpreting the rules. HOA attorneys here come in handy as they help with interpretation and resolving legal disputes with or affecting homeowners. The attorney also plays a significant role in negotiating or resolving disputes with external parties such as contractors and vendors. If at any time you are involved in a dispute with your HOA, an HOA attorney will assist you. Being an expert, the attorney will explain everything to you and advice on what to do.
The truth is that Homeowner Associations matters can be quite intense, it is only best to have an experienced attorney handle matters and resolve disputes. Besides, this is an environment you will be living for quite some time. You do not want to be at logger’s heads with your neighbors and the community as a whole.