Real Estate Law September 5, 2023

Common Homeowner Association Disputes

Common Homeowner Association Disputes

Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are responsible for managing and maintaining shared amenities, common areas, and enforcing certain rules and regulations within a community. While HOAs play a important role in maintaining property values.  Above all, ensuring a harmonious living environment.   However, disputes between homeowners and the association are not uncommon. Here are some of the most common homeowner association disputes:

1. Assessment and Fee Disputes

One of the primary functions of an HOA is to collect assessments and fees from homeowners. The fee is to cover maintenance costs and fund community projects. Disputes can arise when homeowners feel that the fees are to high.  As well as when they disagree with the distribution of funds for specific projects. Additionally, disputes may occur if there’s a lack of transparency in how the association manages its finances.

2. Architectural Control

HOAs typically have guidelines and approval processes for any improvements to the exterior of homes. Homeowners might clash with the association over rejected architectural change requests. This includes disputes over exterior paint colors, landscaping, or the installation of additions like decks, fences, or solar panels.

3. Enforcement of Rules and Regulations

HOAs enforce rules and regulations to maintain community standards and uphold property values. However, disagreements can arise when homeowners feel that certain rules are too restrictive.  Common issues include disputes over parking regulations, pet restrictions, noise complaints, and restrictions on renting out properties.

4. Maintenance and Repairs

Disagreements often occur when it comes to the maintenance and repair responsibilities of the HOA and individual homeowners. Questions may arise about what falls under the association’s responsibility and what is the homeowner’s obligation. For example, issues with roof repairs, plumbing problems, or common area maintenance can lead to disputes over who should bear the costs.

5. Board Governance and Decision-making

Homeowners may challenge the decisions made by the HOA’s board of directors or feel that their voices are not adequately represented. Common grievances include claims of board misconduct, lack of transparency in decision-making, and issues related to board elections.

6. Use of Amenities

HOAs often provide amenities such as pools, gyms, and recreational facilities. Disputes can arise when homeowners disagree over the rules and regulations governing the use of these amenities, reservation systems, or access for guests.

7. Legal Disputes

In some cases, disputes can escalate to legal action. This might involve issues related to contract disputes, non-compliance with covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), or challenges to the authority of the HOA itself.

Resolving Disputes

Homeowners and HOAs can take various steps to resolve disputes amicably. Open communication, mediation, or seeking professional legal advice are common methods. It’s essential for both parties to understand their rights and obligations outlined in the governing documents and local laws.

In conclusion, while HOAs aim to create a sense of community and maintain property values, disputes are a natural part of their operations. Addressing conflicts with transparency, respect, and a willingness to find common ground is key to fostering a harmonious living environment for everyone involved.