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4 common legal issues facing HOAs

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Real Estate Law

Homeowner associations are a valuable part of community management, and their contributions to our neighborhoods help maintain property values and pleasant living environments. In carrying out their mandate, HOAs may sometimes fall into legal trouble with homeowners, among other parties.

If you are a HOA board member or a property manager, it is essential to be aware of the common legal issues that can arise. These may include the following.

1. Discrimination claims

In some neighborhoods, homeowners or prospective buyers may feel they have been discriminated against based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or disability. These claims can arise from actions such as denying access to community facilities, imposing different rules or fees or even in the approval process for property modifications. 

2. Assessment collections

One of the primary responsibilities of an HOA is to collect assessments or dues from homeowners to fund the maintenance and improvement of common areas and community services. Issues arise when homeowners fall behind on their payments or refuse to pay altogether. This can lead to the need for legal action to recover the owed amounts, which can be costly and time-consuming. 

3. Enforcement of covenants and rules

HOAs are tasked with enforcing the community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to maintain the neighborhood’s appearance and harmony. However, disputes can occur if homeowners feel that rules are being enforced inconsistently or unfairly. Legal challenges may arise if homeowners believe that the HOA is overstepping its authority or selectively enforcing rules. 

4. Maintenance and repair disputes

Disagreements over the responsibility for maintenance and repairs of common areas versus individual properties can lead to legal conflicts. Homeowners may challenge charges for repairs or argue that the HOA has not adequately maintained shared spaces. Clear communication and documentation regarding maintenance responsibilities, as outlined in the governing documents, can help prevent such disputes. 

If faced with legal issues, legal guidance can help HOAs address these challenges effectively by staying compliant with relevant laws, mediating disputes and implementing best practices to avoid future legal problems.