If you live in a condominium, townhouse, or other type of home in a new development, you are probably familiar with condo and homeowner’s associations, or HOAs. As many as 20% of Americans may now live in a community run by one of these co-op boards, according to the Community Associations Institute. These organizations are founded by developers and then taken over by community volunteers, who work together to take responsibility for maintenance and set rules and guidelines for the larger community to follow.
If you live in a community run by an HOA, you may also be familiar with how common condo and homeowner’s association disputes and disagreements can become. While there’s no one surefire way for solving these matters, there are a few tips for successfully dealing with HOAs that you should be aware of.
Read on for a straightforward, 10-step guide designed to keep things civil between you and your HOA, and contact our Tulsa real estate lawyer at Bundren Law Firm, P.C. with all your homeowner’s association law needs.
Understand the CC&Rs
Most homeowner’s association disputes arise out of a misunderstanding concerning a set of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, or CC&Rs. Almost all HOAs have a declaration of CC&Rs, and while they vary from community to community, there are a few things that tend to carry over in every community. These typically include policies surrounding pets, parking, garbage collection, noise, and construction/renovation projects.
Follow Common Sense Logic
Most CC&Rs are fairly logical. For instance, if your HOA includes a provision in the CC&Rs about noise guidelines, it is smart to avoid having a big party that rages on late into the night, as you can safely assume this will put you in violation of community agreements.
Get Involved in the Community
Most people lead busy lives, and few have a lot of extra hours to spare outside of work. That said, if you are willing to volunteer even a little bit of your free time to strengthening your community, it may not only be fulfilling on a personal level, but it can help sway your HOA’s opinion when it comes to settling disputes in the future.
Make Friends with Your Neighbors
Although this is probably a good rule of thumb for any community, it is particularly important in areas run by HOAs, where you will want your neighbors to take your side in any dispute that arises. Consider the scenario mentioned above: It will be a lot easier to get away with small noise violations if you inform your neighbors of any gatherings. This is not only a simple courtesy, but it will help in the future if you need to…
Enlist Your Neighbors for Assistance in Any Rule-Changes
If you believe the stipulations put forth in your CC&Rs are unjust, it will be a lot easier to change them if you have other community members on your side. The HOA board is there to make life more hospitable for everybody. If you can prove a given rule is not only negatively affecting you but the people around you, it is possible to make the case that your HOA has a duty to change it.
Have a Clear and Concise Plan in Any and All Disputes
In any dispute with your HOA, they will be more open to change if you can present your argument in a calm and straightforward fashion-- even if you think they are being completely unreasonable. Say you want to build a new deck, for instance, but this kind of project is forbidden in your CC&Rs. Your HOA will be more likely to grant your request if you can lay out the issue clearly, without getting overly emotional or frustrated.
Consult with an Attorney when Reviewing CC&Rs
If you have gotten to the point with your HOA that you feel it is impossible to negotiate without assistance, it is time to hire an attorney. The right lawyer will be able to review often convoluted CC&Rs thoroughly and advise you regarding pertinent details. If, for instance, your HOA is responsible for garbage collection 3 days out of the week but is only picking up trash on 2, you will be able to present this information as leverage in any disputes.
Craft a Strategy
Per the last point, the right lawyer will be able to advise you on the best strategies for achieving what you want in a negotiation with your HOA. Say your car is too big, leading to a disagreement about parking or common spaces. With the aid of an attorney, you can more clearly present your case, and explain why it is impossible to adhere to the same parking standards others in your community are beholden to.
- Understand the Legality of Your CC&Rs: In reviewing your CC&Rs, your attorney may actually find that your HOA is violating your rights as a homeowner. Remember, the power of HOAs is limited. With legal counsel, you will have better grounds to argue that your HOA is taking advantage of you and other homeowners with unfair and potentially illegal CC&Rs.
- Try to Come to a Settlement: Ultimately, nobody wants to start a fight. A skilled attorney will do everything possible to reach a compromise between you and your HOA that leaves everyone satisfied and benefits all parties in the long-run.
Call Bundren Law Firm P.C. Today
So often in disputes with HOAs, arbitrary distinctions get blown up into rigid constraints. While your HOA is supposed to have the community’s best interest at heart, it is still important for you to stand up for yourself. With a knowledgeable lawyer by your side, you may be able to settle negligible HOA disputes before they turn into drawn-out conflicts, and to defend your rights in situations where the HOA is overstepping their bounds.
Contact our attorney at Bundren Law Firm, P.C. for HOA conflict resolution and all your other real estate law concerns. From architectural disputes, to property contracts, to easement and boundary issues, we have the skill and strategies to provide legal advice tailored specifically to your needs. With decades of experience and a long list of satisfied clients, our firm has built a reputation of excellence, and will work tirelessly to secure the results you deserve.
Call Bundren Law Firm, P.C. now at (918) 992-3300, or contact us online anytime to schedule a consultation.