Disputes between homeowners associations (HOAs) and individual homeowners are not uncommon and often prove costly for both parties. HOAs can save themselves time, expense and worry by taking a few commonsense measures to reduce the likelihood of disputes. Some of these measures include:
- Making sure rules are fair: A review of your rules may expose some that are outdated, arbitrary or otherwise deficient. By making sure rules are fair and necessary, you can enforce them with conviction. Furthermore, when the rules are fair, you can benefit from having goodwill from other homeowners when one of them is in violation.
- Making sure rules are known: Communication is key in this respect. Homeowners who aren’t made explicitly aware of HOA policies cannot be expected to abide by all of the rules. Also, by clearly communicating the rules, you can eliminate the excuse that the homeowner was unaware they were in violation.
- Pick your battles: Engaging in an expensive legal conflict over a relatively minor issue may not be in the HOA’s best interests, and may be viewed by some members as a poor use of HOA funds. Sometimes it is necessary to stand on principle, but a pragmatic analysis of the dispute, not passion or acrimony, should guide your decisions.
- Enforce the rules equally, unless: Treating one homeowner differently from another is inviting lawsuits and other problems. On the other hand, special circumstances sometimes apply, as when a disabled homeowner must build special accommodations that may not strictly comply with HOA rules. You can reduce the likelihood of disputes and lawsuits by treating all homeowners fairly while remaining aware of valid, extenuating circumstances that overrule HOA policies.
Resolving disputes when they do arise
While HOAs can benefit from dispute avoidance, sometimes it is necessary to fully engage in litigation for the greater good of the community. When disputes rise to this level, HOAs rely on proven legal advocates to help them achieve an efficient and favorable outcome.