Disputes between owners and homeowners associations (HOA) are pretty common-place, and can become quite unpleasant and may quickly escalate to a frenzied state, especially when the relationship between the parties is already strained or the disagreement involves a significant amount of money.
The Role of Homeowner Associations
An HOA can be defined as a corporation or a body that has been incorporated/formed by a real estate developer to assist with the management, marketing, and sales of homes in a residential area. Being a part of an HOA is in many cases a condition of the home purchase, and new homeowners typically do not have the freedom to opt-out of this arrangement. The rights and responsibilities of HOAs and its members are governed by contractual documents, typically in the form of declarations and by-laws. These rules are enacted and enforced by private boards, usually made up of residents of the community. The majority of HOAs enlist the help of a professional management company to assist them with administrative management, financials, vendor management, and construction consulting.
Unlike owning a stand-alone home (where the owner is responsible for repairs and maintenance), HOAs are typically responsible for handling repair and maintenance issues, funded through members’ periodic payment of association dues. Having an HOA on board to manage these tasks can be of great benefit to homeowners, but issues often arise when owners feel that upkeep costs are inflated, the cost of repairs/upkeep are not being fairly apportioned, or the board/management company is generally not performing as they should.
Lawsuits often result when HOAs and owners cannot reach accord on disputed matters, and are generally brought under the following causes of action:
- Breach of fiduciary duty: HOAs are responsible for managing the affairs of the owners in the given residential community. Owners can bring a lawsuit if the HOA is not performing its assigned tasks.
- Negligent care and maintenance of common areas: Common property is often the responsibility of the HOA, and any injuries or conflicts that arise from these areas may result in litigation.
- Violations of covenants, conditions, and restrictions: If an HOA violates or fails to follow rules set forth in governing documents, a homeowner may initiate a lawsuit.
At FSSK, we resolve real estate disputes involving HOAs and homeowners. If you as a board member of an HOA are faced with a challenging legal problem, or as a homeowner have an issue with your HOA, FSSK Law Firm will discuss your matter with you via a FREE initial consultation.