Homeowner associations (HOA) and the boards that lead them take on the responsibility of maintaining the peace of the community. Like all leadership positions, it’s possible for the people you serve to become irate with your board’s decisions and actions.
Although calm conversations resolve most problematic situations, sometimes the end result is an expensive and lengthy lawsuit. It’s easier to prevent these situations than deal with the trials of a lawsuit. Here are some proactive steps your board can take to avoid HOA lawsuits before they strike.
Stay On Top of Your Upkeep
One of the biggest reasons that an HOA gets sued is lack of upkeep around the community. If you hear your community members speak up about common areas needing to be maintained, or repairs that need to be done, take the initiative now, if possible. Your association is responsible for the repairs and general maintenance around the neighborhood and its units. Steer clear of any legal troubles by talking with your management partner and choosing the right vendors for the job. If lack of maintenance is due to a lack of funds, it’s best to communicate that issue to the entire community so that owners are informed of what is going on, and so that they know a dues increase is likely in the near future.
Thoroughly Review Governing Documents With Homeowners
Sometimes, a homeowner wants to make a change on their property that doesn’t fit in with the governing documents. Rather than shutting them down at an HOA meeting and leaving it as a “non-compliant” request, set some time aside to explain your reasoning.
Review governing documents with your constituents, and if possible, try to find a way to create a win-win situation for the homeowner based on what is allowed in the documents.
Get Extra Help When Pursuing Violations
When someone is in egregious breach of bylaws or dues go unpaid, your HOA will have to collect fees and delinquent dues. At times, these actions by your board can result in lawsuits because the offending owner does not agree with the rule or thinks the fees are unfair.
In these situations, it’s best to approach violators with caution. Talk to your management team and discuss the right forms of counsel to ensure that the money is collected, and there is no possibility of a waiver that would disqualify you from pursuing the same type of violation in the future.
Stay on Top of Your HOA With Goodwin & Company
If your board is unsure of how to handle disputes with residents or other situations that could result in a lawsuit, it’s time to look into association management. An association management team helps your HOA’s board make the right decisions and act preemptively against the likelihood of legal troubles.
Goodwin & Company has the experience and legal connections to help your board handle any obstacles that come its way. We’re ready to help you keep your community comfortable. Contact us today to learn more about our services and past success with planned neighborhoods like yours.