Specialized community attorneys are paramount to any successful association. They perform tasks and consult on issues that an Association would otherwise have no way of doing. Here’s why your association needs one…

THE CASE FOR AN ASSOCIATION ATTORNEY

Retaining the services of an attorney is important for every condo and homeowners association. The HOA governing documents, as well as federal, state, and local laws, dictate many aspects of the community’s management. The association must follow these stipulations.

Having a good attorney who specializes in community associations can assist in ensuring compliance and, in turn, preventing lawsuits. Association attorneys can also aid in everything from amending CC&Rs to collections, as well as provide legal representation should the HOA need it.

WHY AN HOA ATTORNEY IS SO IMPORTANT

Any organization, whether for profit or not, can benefit from the aid of an attorney. That’s why so many companies have attorneys on retainer or even hire their own corporate counsel. Attorneys protect organizations, that’s just the way it is. And a homeowners association is no different.

Retaining the services of a community attorney is instrumental in HOAs in many ways. Here are some of the roles HOA lawyers can help fulfill:

1. INTERPRET GOVERNING DOCUMENTS AND LAWS

As legal corporations, community associations are bound by their governing documents and federal, state, and local laws. Governing documents may be difficult to understand, but these specialized attorneys can assist with more difficult terms as well as helping with overall interpretation.
For instance, a managed association attorney could help a condominium association determine the maintenance responsibilities of the association and those of the individual unit owners.

2. AMEND GOVERNING DOCUMENTS

An HOA lawyer can also help with making changes to the governing documents to modify everything from architectural guidelines to increasing the number of board members. Amending the governing documents is no small act. The process can take some time and a great deal of work.
When the board chooses to amend the governing documents, they should make sure the changes don’t come into conflict with existing stipulations. The alterations should also comply with federal, state, and local laws, such as the Fair Housing Act. An attorney can help with that as well as the proper wording of any changes to minimize the risk of liability.

3. COLLECT ASSESSMENTS

Unfortunately for many community associations, there are always homeowners who do not pay their assessments. This could stem from a number of reasons — from insufficient income to a downright refusal to do so. Most boards do everything they can to collect delinquent dues, including imposing late fees and even revoking privileges.
If the board chooses to take further action, such as file a lawsuit or place a lien on the property, it will need the help of an attorney. Of course, you should still make sure to act within the parameters of the governing documents.

4. REPRESENT THE ASSOCIATION AND ITS BOARD

The community’s governing documents also list the fiduciary responsibilities of the board of directors. If a board is found to not be upholding these responsibilities or acting neglectfully, homeowners within the association may take legal action. The board of directors would then need legal representation, and in many cases, a lawyer they have already retained will be able to assist.
The need for legal representation isn’t limited to a breach of fiduciary duty either. Many homeowners decide to sue the association, or the board, for even the smallest of disputes. While it’s easy to ignore or dismiss these as petty complaints, you still need a lawyer for counsel and to defend the Association.

5. OVERALL LEGAL COUNSEL

community attorneys

What does an HOA attorney do? Every homeowners association needs legal counsel for a sundry of issues. An HOA attorney can serve as general legal counsel when it comes to management concerns, such as disputes or accusations of discriminatory behavior.
If the board is unsure of a course of action they intend to take, an attorney can weigh in with their expert opinion. In the long run, having an attorney by the board’s side will limit the possibility of liability

HOW TO FIND A CONDO OR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION ATTORNEY FOR YOUR COMMUNITY

community attorneys

Finding an attorney who specializes in community associations may prove difficult as it is not a very popular specialty, nor is it one that is usually categorized on law firm directories. If your association utilizes a management firm, they will most likely have a relationship with one or more law firms in the area and be able to give a recommendation.

Another good place to look is the service directory of your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). All of the lawyers listed will be a member of the organization and have experience in community association law. CAI is a reliable partner in the Community Association industry, so you can trust their recommendations when it comes to qualified attorneys.

Word of mouth is also a great way to find an experienced lawyer. Talk with friends and family members who have served on the boards of other local HOAs as they may have had good experiences with a particular firm. Don’t just talk about the positives, though. If they have any criticisms about potential candidates, make sure to learn what these are too.

All communities managed by Ardent Residential have access to our extensive list of qualified and fully vetted attorneys who specialize in managed communities.

 

 

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