One of the areas that Weidner Law specializes in is real estate law. and one of their biggest areas of practice within real estate law is condominium association and homeowners association disputes. Today we’re going to touch on these types of disputes and give you a brief course in what you need to know.
Condominium Association and Homeowners Association Disputes
First thing is first, why get into condominium association and homeowners association disputes?
According to a recent report by U.S. News, over 68 million Americans live in communities that are governed by condominium or homeowners associations. The purpose of these types of associations is to maintain the common property in a community and sometimes to maintain some non-communal areas of the community as well (for example roofs.) They also enforce certain rules and regulations which ensure that the community is a safe area to live, that homeowners and renters act responsibly, that disputes between neighbors are avoided, and that property within the community retains its value.
Who sets out the rules and regulations that an HOA enforces, though?
The rules and regulations enforced by the HOA are commonly accepted rules and regulations that are referred to as the “covenants, conditions, and restrictions”. The rules within the CCR’s are voted upon by the board of directors after being established by legal state procedures that are set up by the HOA. Once voted upon, the CCR’s are filed with the state as a legally binding document. This document cannot be changed without another vote by all members in another procedure that complies with state law.
The rules set out in the CCR are then governed and enforced by the HOA board of directors who are often volunteers. The CCR’s compliance may also be contracted out to an external management company who then becomes responsible for handling maintenance tasks on a day to day basis.
So, these associations sound like a pretty good thing, right? Well, they can be, but they can also result in disputes that are exceptionally difficult to resolve without the assistance of a real estate attorney.
Common Causes of Condominium Association and Homeowners Association Disputes
So, what are the most common causes of condominium association and homeowners association disputes?
- Architectural control issues where homeowners do not get approval for architectural projects they have completed on their home, for example, building a second deck.
- Developer voting weight in HOA organizations where once a developer has a heavier voting weight than homeowners in the HOA until they sell a certain percentage of lots or until a certain time period has passed at which time they relinquish control of the HOA to the homeowners.
- General enforcement of HOA agreements where homeowners fail to abide by HOA regulations, fail to pay HOA fees, or otherwise disagree with the organization.
What If You Have Condominium Association and Homeowners Association Disputes?
If you find yourself involved in any of the situations above, you are going to find yourself in a dispute with your homeowner’s association. Unfortunately, these types of disputes are rarely simple and due to the nature of the HOA organization, they are heavily weighted in the HOA’s favor when disputes do arise. For these reasons, it is prudent to retain a real estate attorney to represent your interests.
Types of HOA Disputes
There are four main reasons for HOA disputes to arise – you were unaware of HOA covenants, you ignored HOA covenants, you interpreted HOA covenants to mean something other than what the HOA intended, or the HOA covenants were unclear or are being assumed to mean one thing although they do not explicitly state it. Now, in most instances where HOA covenants are flagrantly flaunted, you stand little chance of winning a dispute, but what about when you fall into one of the other three categories?
If you were unaware of HOA covenants or you misinterpreted covenants, you are still going to face an uphill battle in fighting against your HOA, but a real estate attorney will be able to help you to get a better understanding of whether you have a case to fight or not.
If, however, your HOA is unclear in their covenants and are attempting to hold you accountable for breaking the covenants based on a non-official clarification of the covenants, you stand the most favorable chance of a positive outcome. These types of cases often arise when a covenant in your HOA agreement states something like “no dangerous pets are allowed” and your HOA attempts to hold you in breach of that covenant simply because you own a breed of dog that they deem to be dangerous. In this situation, the covenant is a broad generalization that makes no clarification of what makes a “dangerous pet” and with an experienced attorney on your side, you can argue your case in civil court and likely win IF your dog is, in fact, not dangerous.
Fighting this type of dispute in court can be frustrating and tiresome, though, and without an attorney on your side, you can easily get distracted by the emotion of the situation and lose your case by a failure to properly “make” it.
Need a Lawyer in St Pete For Your Condominium Association and Homeowners Association Disputes?
If you’re in the St Pete area and need an attorney to represent you in your condominium association and homeowners association disputes, Weidner Law can help. Simply contact attorney Matt Weidner and his colleagues through their online contact page here or by giving them a call at 727-954-8752 today.