Living in a home that requires joining a homeowner’s association can be a blessing or a curse, depending mostly on the individuals involved. Many people who participate in homeowner’s associations, or HOAs, see the benefits but recognize that these organizations often give people an opportunity to create conflict over relatively small disagreements. Unfortunately, some homeowners find themselves on the wrong end of a dispute and face legal action, often over something trivial.
If your HOA threatens you with a lawsuit or claims that you violated the guidelines, it can seem like an easy thing to ignore. This is not a wise course of action, in most cases. If you do not resolve the conflict properly, it may make living in your own home difficult and uncomfortable, along with potential consequences like heavy fines.
Disagreements over guidelines
Typically, HOA disputes go in one of two directions. Either the HOA claims that a resident or number of residents violated established guidelines, or residents within an HOA claim that their dues are misspent or inflated.
HOA agreements operate like many other contracts, creating legally binding obligations for all parties involved. If one side violates an obligation, the other may pursue legal action to force compliance. Before you take any direct or severe action, make sure that you review your agreement carefully through the eyes of the law. Often, the party accusing you of a violation may interpret guideline language in the way they prefer, not through the way a court may interpret the language.
If you believe that the complaint against you is legally valid, but you oppose a guideline for a particular reason, you may have legal tools to help you argue against the guideline itself. Even when a circumstance seems straightforward, there are typically more options than you may realize at first.
Disagreements over dues
The other common disputes that arise around HOAs are the cost of paying dues and how those dues get spent. Many neighbors realize that they spend a significant amount of money each year to ensure that they receive benefits like landscaping or a community pool, and do not believe that HOA uses their money properly. Similarly, an HOA may take action if it believes that you are delinquent in payment.
When money gets involved, people have a tendency to defend their own interests, regardless of the validity of their position. To keep your rights secure and ensure that you do not spark unnecessary conflict with the people who live around you, make sure to use high quality legal resources and guidance as you work toward a fair resolution. With a strong legal strategy and a clear understanding of the HOA contract, you can protect yourself and your home.