Resolving HOA Disputes
How Can Homeowners Amicably Resolve Disputes?
While it’s possible for litigation to be conducted amicably, in the vast majority of cases, that’s not what happens. Instead, you get hard feelings, tons of stress, and big legal fees. So, if at all possible, it’s usually best to try to resolve disputes informally.
Sometimes, simple polite communication is all it takes. Before sending a formal letter from an attorney demanding that the board enforce a certain covenant, an owner might instead just talk to a board member or raise the issue at a member meeting. Or, if there’s a disagreement over whether a planned home renovation does or does not comply with the covenants, the owner and the board might try informally negotiating a compromise that satisfies all parties.
If that doesn’t work, voluntary mediation with an experienced mediator is almost always cheaper, faster, and more cordial than litigation. Georgia does not require mediation prior to HOA suits, but states that do, such as Florida and California, have had positive results. It may be that having a knowledgeable, neutral third party provide an informed opinion is enough to convince an otherwise obstinate board member or homeowner to reassess a contentious position. You can visit the American Arbitration Association to locate a Mediator.
One of the issues faced by homeowners living in communities governed by homeowners’ associations is the issue of when either the association itself or another homeowner encroaches on the homeowner’s property. This article is designed to give basic information to homeowners living in these private communities concerning how issues of encroachment affect their use and enjoyment of their property. One thing is imminently clear about case law involving encroachments in HOA communities – this is that disputes of this nature spin out of control and take on a life of their own which can be long, drawn out and expensive for all involved.
Zoning ordinances and HOA covenants often disallow commercial uses of properties in residential areas. A group home that accepts payments for services provided at the home is almost certainly engaging in commercial activity. But, although the plain language of an ordinance or covenant might appear to prohibit such a group home, federal law forbids state and local governments or HOAs from impeding certain protected uses (more on that later). Importantly, there are different categories of group homes, and the laws protecting each home depend in large part on what kind of home is involved.
The obligation for members of an HOA to pay the fees assessed by the HOA primarily comes as a contractual obligation which is created by the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), as well as the Bylaws and Operating Rules of the HOA. The obligation to pay such fees runs with the land/property/condo and as such, the contractual obligation continues on until an HOA property is transferred to the next owner. This article is designed to give members of HOAs basic information concerning HOA Fees and many of the issues that come along with them.
The neatest method of adopting a smoking restriction in an HOA community is to include the smoking policy in the declaration when the association is initially formed. For already-existing associations, though, a new smoking rule will require an amendment to the HOA’s declaration. Typically, this involves approval by member vote, followed by recording of the amended declaration in the county land records. Amendment can require only a simple majority, a super-majority, or even unanimous approval of members – depending on the declaration and state law.
One of the issues faced by homeowners’ associations and their members is what types of rules and regulations can apply to parking within a community. While parking regulations can help to assure that owners have reasonable parking options available to them, they can also be so restrictive that it is difficult to have guests visit. In addition, in some cases, associations that have exerted too much power in this area have begun issuing hefty fines for parking violations which become further bones of contention within members of the community. This article is a basic overview of the HOA’s authority to regulate and enforce parking.
In a condominium building or planned development, the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) and the owners each have different obligations with regard to maintaining, repairing, and replacing different parts of the community. If either the HOA or an individual owner doesn’t properly meet those obligations, it can cause problems for that owner, and often for other members of the HOA as well. It’s important to understand who is responsible for which elements of the community, and what rights you have if the HOA isn’t taking care of its responsibilities.