When you purchase a new home, you may be required to join a homeowner's association, or HOA. Although this may seem like a small matter, it is important to understand the full legal implications of being part of one of these associations. The most common legal issues you can face involving the HOA or another type of property owner's association fall into two main categories: homeowner breach of contract and HOA breach of contract.
Breaches of Your Contract as a Homeowner
The power of neighborhood associations or HOAs varies based on the terms of the contract you sign when you join the organization. Once you have signed this contract, you agree to abide by all of its terms. If you breach one or more parts of the contract, the HOA has the power to enforce the contract using any and all of the methods described within the document. Depending on the scope of the contract, the HOA may be able to:
- Force you to pay a fine
- Place a lien against your mortgage
- Foreclose on your home
At first glance, it seems like these methods of enforcement are too harsh for a simple neighborhood organization. However, in most cases, these very remedies are listed in the contract. For this reason, it is important to read any neighborhood association contract carefully before signing.
Some of the offenses most likely to get you into trouble with the HOA include:
- Failing to pay your dues
- Failing to pay assessed fees for community property
- Abide by association bylaws
Breaches of Contract by the Association
In some cases, the HOA or neighborhood association may fail to uphold its own responsibilities under the contract you signed. In these cases, homeowners can take legal action against the association.
For example, most HOA contracts include provisions that require the HOA to maintain community property, such as clubhouses, parks or other common areas. When the HOA does not perform the needed maintenance, the organization can be held legally responsible. Likewise, in some states, HOAs may be responsible for paying taxes on common areas. If your HOA is not paying property taxes as required, you may be able to force the association to do its duty by filing a lawsuit.
Depending on the nature of the issue you have with your neighborhood association or HOA, you may need to file a lawsuit against the entire organization and/or against a single member of the board. The best way to determine how to proceed is to talk to an attorney.
Getting Legal Representation for HOA Issues
If you are involved in a legal dispute with your HOA, or if you are thinking about filing a claim against the organization, you need legal representation. At the Tough Law Firm, we have a solid track record of representing homeowners in HOA disputes, and we can help you maximize your chances of winning the case. Please contact our office today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our team.