Most homeowners do not purchase a home with the ultimate goal of fighting with a homeowner's association. However, your association might be forced into a conflict with a homeowner who is creating too much noise, not maintaining their property, or fighting with other members of the association. When you find yourself in a conflict with a homeowner, you'll want to speak with an association attorney.
Understand Your Association's Powers
The powers that you will have are granted explicitly in the association's governing documents. The bylaws determine the covenants, conditions, and restrictions. For example, while you have the power to issue a fine, you might be required to send a warning letter beforehand.
After you have written the warning letter, you'll want to keep a copy of the letter and send one copy to the homeowner who is in violation of the bylaws. After you issue a fine, the homeowner might argue that they never received a warning and you may need to provide evidence that such a warning was issued.
While you are allowed to enforce the rules of your HOA, you will not want to be accused of levying fines in an arbitrary manner. Your attorney will assist you in making sure that you follow the exact same rules for all homeowners so you are not accused of showing favoritism.
Discussions with the Homeowner
If the homeowner accuses you of making a statement that you did not actually make, your attorney will likely ask for evidence that the conversation occurred. The homeowner must have thorough documentation to prove that the conversation took place. Whenever communicating, you will always want a paper trail and you'll want to be careful about what you say in face-to-face conversations, which are usually not documented.
The Importance of an Association Attorney
You will need to know the law regarding the formation and governing of associations. However, you will not have the time to research these laws yourself and you are better off seeking help from a professional. Even if your board chooses to pass a law, they are required to follow state and federal laws regarding HOAs.
For example, your association will always need to comply with the Fair Housing Act. You will not be able to discriminate against anyone on a basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, or familial status. Therefore, involving an attorney is essential so you remain in compliance with laws such as these.