Want to paint your house a different color than beige? Want to install a pool, but your neighbors just won’t let you? If you live in a condo or a neighborhood which has a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), you probably already know that living in these areas means living with certain restrictions on your personal expression. However, if you feel that your HOA is unfairly targeting you, or simply not doing their duties, then it may be time to take matters into your own hands. Learn how to proceed and how to take action when you have disputes with your Homeowners’ Association.
What is the HOA?
Before throwing out threats to sue your Homeowners’ Association, it may be a good idea to review the specific duties and powers of the HOA. Different states may have different requirements for what documents the HOA must maintain. For the most part, these documents usually include:
• The Articles of Incorporation,
• Bylaws, and
• The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R)
These documents collectively describe the powers, limits, and obligations of the HOA. Some important information they usually contain are regulations for community members, procedural information like how rules can be amended and how HOA board is elected, as well as consequences for any violations of HOA rules.
Some things the HOA may regulate are:
• Shingles, siding, and exterior paint
• Fences, shrubs, and hedges
• Landscaping (what flowers can be planted, for instance)
• Swing sets, basketball hoops, and other structures for children
• Tool sheds
• Home-based business
What are the Duties of the HOA?
The Board’s powers and duties to all homeowners within the HOA include:
• paying all taxes and assessments,
• avoiding liens upon the common area,
• securing general liability insurance,
• making contracts for materials and services to maintain the common area,
• electing and/or organizing committees, officers, or employees of the HOA, and
• overseeing the preparation of budgets and financial statements
• writing all rules of operation for the common areas and facilities
• notifying all homeowners of these rules on a regular basis
• notifying homeowners of any violation of the rules
How to Deal with Disputes with Your HOA
Your HOA probably won’t want to take you to court. Therefore, here are a few tips to build up your case while preserving your chances of reconciliation with your HOA.
Attempts to Reconcile
First, try writing a letter for clarification of the rules or to share your perspective of things. This accomplishes 3 things:
(1) a possibility that the HOA will reconsider their standpoint,
(2) if they don’t respond, you can take that as compliance with your wishes, and
(3) it provides you with evidence for the court that you attempted to patch things up before taking matters to court
In the meantime, if they don’t respond or decline your request, continue complying with their mandated fees and regulations. You don’t want to be in charge of paying interest or appearing “hostile” to neighbors and the DOA before your case even begins. These fees can and will be reimbursed in court if the judge agrees with your reasoning.
In order to build up your case, you need to scope the scene and do some digging. Are others discontent with your HOA? Did the HOA miss some of their duties? Were you unfairly treated compared to your neighbors?
If your neighbors are similarly displeased with the HOA, their testimonies could be a boon to your case. If they do not wish to appear in court, then you can have them write down their testimony. To learn how to prepare your witness, click here. Another option is to have your neighbors sign a petition against the HOA.
However, if your neighbors don’t have your back, another option is to analyze other weaknesses of your HOA. For instance, have they updated their regulations and documents per California law? Take a closer look at your HOA’s documents to see if they in any way didn’t fulfill their duties to you.
Lastly, did the DOA demonstrate bias? Did others get different treatment from you? If you can demonstrate that your case was treated differently without cause, then that qualifies as bias in any court of law.
Those are some things a judge would definitely be interested in hearing about. To learn how to prepare evidence, click here. For more legal advice, you can rely on SueYa to generate instantaneous (and error-proof) court documents. We can even serve your defendants, and file your court papers for you. Everything, but show up in court for you. We are here, delivering justice to you.
The Help When You Need It
Any time that you need help with your small claims case, reach out to us via LiveChat, on the phone at 1-888-SUE-YA-88. Most clients successfully complete their small claims paperwork without issue.
Sandvick, J.D. Clinton M. “Fight Your HOA (Homeowner Association).” WikiHow. WikiHow, 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.