Common HOA Disputes

Common HOA Disputes

By Gary Bowers, Attorney at Law If you have ever lived in a planned community with a homeowners’ association (HOA), you may have formed distinct opinions about whether HOAs are a good or bad thing! In most cases, HOAs help keep up the property values in the community by enforcing commonly accepted restrictions. Sometimes, though, common HOA disputes will arise when a homeowner is unaware of the restrictive covenants, interprets the rules differently, or ignores them altogether. What are the benefits of a homeowners’ association? HOAs exist for several purposes. They are responsible for care and upkeep of common areas in the community. This might include the entrance(s) to the community, signage, a pool or other amenities, or lighting and utilities (where the community is gated or streets are private). In a townhome or condominium community, the association may also cover roof repairs/replacement, exterior maintenance, alleys, driveways, etc. All homeowners benefit from these activities, as they typically make the community a desirable place to live. If common areas are limited, the annual or monthly HOA dues may be relatively small. In other cases, the fees may be higher to build up reserves to pay larger or longer-term expenses like resurfacing a pool or replacing the roof on the building. HOAs also define and enforce community standards in an effort to protect homeowners and ensure potential buyers are not deterred by the actions of a single homeowner. If your neighbor, for example, decided to paint his house a bold purple or store dozens of junk cars in his yard, you might object to having his see his property every day...
3 Situations Where Your HOA Board Needs Legal Advice

3 Situations Where Your HOA Board Needs Legal Advice

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney at Law If you serve on the Board of your Homeowner’s Association, you may quickly find out how much you need to learn! In addition to the Covenant’s and Bylaws that govern your HOA, there are other local, state and federal laws and regulations that can come into play. As long as all homeowners abide by the rules and pay their dues on time, being on the Board can be relatively simple. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t read (or perhaps understand) these thick documents and others ignore them. Evenly and fairly enforcing the Covenants and Bylaws for the benefit of the Association members (the homeowners) as a whole becomes the responsibility of the Board. Many issues that come up have very specific guidelines the Board must follow. For example, the Smith’s lawn is overgrown and tangled with weeds. The Covenants state that lawns must be kept in neatly trimmed and free of weeds. The Board’s response (generally handled by a property management company) is to send a letter to the homeowner giving them a set period of time to rectify the situation. If the homeowner fails to fix the problem, the Board is able to take the next step of holding a hearing. If the situation remains unresolved, the Board may then permitted to hire a third-party to mow and treat the lawn and charge the homeowner. [The actual steps to resolve the issue will depend on the governing documents and applicable laws in your area.] But what happens when the situation is not as clear cut? Here are some common examples where you might want...