In housing communities, concerns are bound to pop up from time to time. When legal action becomes involved, an attorney who practices Community Association Law can be a saving grace. Disagreements can become amplified when community associations are involved. Your homeowners association or condo association can face real penalties when tied up in litigation.
What is Community Association Law?
When it comes to maintaining and optimizing your neighborhood, it’s a great idea to set standards of living that ensure uniformity. When every neighbor knows and understands the best way to interface together, the entire neighborhood improves. Community associations make this possible.
Even though you may be governed under FL statutes 718 or 720, each HOA and condo association does not necessarily have the same bylaws, or follow the same regulations as other community associations or local governments. But, when a neighbor becomes an owner/association member, they must sign a contract to abide by the association bylaws and rules & regulations – as they stand today, and as they may be amended in the future.
Community Association Law governs the legal documents and actions of neighbors in a community. This type of governance must be handled with care, considering the unique circumstances that each community association faces. The association board is made up of community members, which don’t have the experience or knowledge of a community association attorney. Additionally, when feelings and relationships among neighbors get involved, disputes can become worse.
The right Community Association Lawyer can help.
What Do Community Association Attorneys Do?
To gain clarity on how an HOA Attorney or Condo Attorney can benefit your organization, you first need to understand what these lawyers do.
As attorneys who are well-versed in condo law and HOA law, these legal professionals serve as council to the association board of directors. They are hired by the condo or homeowners association itself, rather than by individuals on the board. Because the association is made up of everyday people who live in the community, it would be problematic (and a potential conflict of interest) for the attorney to work for a single member of the association, rather than the HOA’s board of directors (BOD) collectively.
Condo and HOA Attorneys report to the association BOD and serve two primary functions: counseling on legal matters related to the community, and defending the association in litigation.
They may provide a variety of services:
- Drafting, Amending, and Enforcing Association Governing Documents
- Defending the association from legal claims
- Providing Counsel in Connection with Developer Transition
- Compliance with Applicable State, and Federal, Laws
- Collecting Delinquent Assessments, including foreclosures where appropriate
- Litigating Contested Elections
- Pet Issues, Including Service Animal Governance
- Violation letters/fines
- Advising on the Day-To-Day Operations of the Community
- Assisting the Board of Directors on Financial Matters, Including Budgeting, and the Imposition of Special Assessments
- Reviewing loan documents and structuring commercial lines of credit and/or arranging sources of financing for recreation lease purchases, capital improvements, etc.
- FHA violation prevention and litigation
How Can an HOA Attorney Serve My Community Association?
Retaining an HOA attorney can help thwart potential litigation while ensuring that your association remains above board in matters dealing with the community.
HOA Attorneys can draft and enforce governing documents. This is especially helpful when a homeowners association or condo association is just being established. A professional attorney who is experienced in community association law can draft Homeowners Association Declaration, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Articles of Corporation and by-laws, and Association Rules and Regulations, just to name a few.
Assist in Regulating HOA fines and monthly dues. When a community members commits a violation or fails to pay their dues, it is sometimes necessary to have the property manager and BOD defer to their legal counsel to handle the dispute. BOD enforcement is also challenging because the violator and the enforcer are part of the same community and are likely even neighbors. A practiced HOA Attorney or Condo Attorney can step in to handle the collection in a timely and professional manner.
Managing contract concerns including short-term rentals. Sometimes, homeowners or condo owners may offer short-term rentals that are outside of the community association’s policies. The HOA may find it difficult to establish the presence of a short-term rental, and then to prosecute it. The right attorney can help manage these types of concerns in your community, and assist in drafting appropriate Rules and Regulations that cover these issues.
Hiring an HOA Attorney on retainer is the best way to mitigate potential risks in your community. Whether with new associations or those with growing communities, issues always find a way to arise. Even in well-managed organizations, problems can arise that may lead to litigation in the future.
How to Find the Right Community Association Attorney
When searching for the right attorney, consider the following:
- What primary tasks would my attorney fulfill for my community association?
- How large is my community, and what unique needs do we have?
- How much experience does the attorney have with community association law/litigation?
- What is the attorney’s primary area of expertise?
- Would my community benefit from having an attorney on retainer?
- What are the most common types of disputes or infractions my community receives?
Answering these questions will help you gain clarity on the specific needs your community has. Then, you can best determine which community association attorney is right for your specific needs. Of course, we are available for free consultations to determine how Lubliner Law can assist your community association.
How can Lubliner Law’s HOA Attorneys and Condo Attorneys in Florida Help You?
Hiring the right attorney doesn’t have to be difficult. The lawyers at Lubliner Law are experienced with the many facets and layers of governance community associations must abide by. We can be a valuable resource for guidance and council on a variety of concerns your association may face. Concerns can be exposed both within your BOD and among the community association members. We are here to defend your rights and ensure smooth processes in your community.