Community Association: Does My HOA Need an Attorney?

community association imageAlthough Homeowners Associations (H.O.A.s) are entered into voluntarily by residents when they purchase a home within a community, there may be an instance that a dispute or disagreement will arise between your Homeowners Association and an individual homeowner.

How Can an Attorney Help a Homeowners Association?

Since the majority of an HOA’s governing board is made up of volunteers from the community, it is essential to retain the services of an experienced attorney to help your Homeowners Association with drafting, interpreting and enforcing the community’s by-laws. Also, in the event of a dispute with a contractor or any other outside vendor, your HOA will need an attorney to prepare all legal documents and negotiate a resolution.

It is in the best interest of a Homeowners Association to retain the services of a professional attorney with experience in Real Estate and Community Association Law from its very inception. The following are examples of situations that will require the keen legal eye of an experienced professional.

Drafting of Founding and Governing Documents

To ensure that your HOA is recognized by the State and that all standards for the future management of the community are in compliance with all applicable laws, an attorney should draft the founding documents. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Homeowners Association Declaration
  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that your community intends to implement
  • Official Articles of Corporation and By-Laws
  • Clearly-worded and legally-enforceable list of your Association’s Formal Rules and Regulations

Interpretation and Enforcement of By-Laws and Other Governing Documents (CC&Rs)

To protect your community from a costly lawsuit, it is highly recommended that your HOA consult with an attorney when dealing with issues that involve interpreting and enforcing your Association’s by-laws (or other governing documents). Keep in mind that this is especially crucial when your HOA’s Governing Board is a collection of local residents, most of whom may or may not have legal knowledge of Real Estate or Community Association Law.

Collection of Fines/Monthly Dues and Filing of Liens or Articles of Foreclosure Against a Resident

It is always advisable for your Association to utilize the expertise of an attorney when engaging in the collection of any and all fines or monthly dues that have been levied by the Association. If an individual resident has compiled a lengthy list of violations or simply refuses to comply with an HOA’s order of payment, it may become necessary to file a lien against their home and, ultimately, foreclose on that property. This will require an attorney to file the applicable legal documents.

Having an experienced, professional attorney that works proactively with your Homeowners Association will help ensure that all disputes are resolved as quickly as possible through legally-appropriate and professional means. More importantly, the hiring of an attorney will help protect the HOA’s authority to govern and its financial well-being.

For professional and knowledgeable assistance with any legal questions you may have about your Homeowners Association’s legal representation or Community Association Law, please contact attorneys Mark Woodward, Lenore Brakefield or Kenneth Mundy with Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. at (239) 649-6555 or visit www.wpl-legal for more information.

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