In an ideal world, managing your HOA would be simple and straightforward—no problems, no disputes, and no need for legal counsel or mediation.
Unfortunately, the reality is that issues do arise within an HOA, and at those times, it’s vital to have experienced legal help. A good attorney or legal team can help make sure your board handles any problems correctly and efficiently.
Why should your HOA board hire an attorney?
An HOA board can handle most of the day-to-day operations of their communities. But sometimes, things are too complicated or too delicate for the board to handle themselves. That’s when legal help becomes essential. An attorney can help your board with things like:
- Interpreting governing documents. Many governing documents contain language that is hard for non-lawyers to understand. This can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. An attorney can help explain things in clearer terms so that everyone is on the same page.
- Reviewing and amending governing documents. It’s important that your community’s governing documents are in line with other federal, state, and local laws and ordinances. Your attorney can help you review and amend your documents as needed in order to make sure everything is above board, reducing your risk of liability.
- Collecting late assessments. Overdue assessments can quickly become a big problem for HOA boards. If a payment is late enough, the board may be required to involve an attorney. The attorney may need to file a lien on the property or take some other form of legal action in order to collect the funds.
- Negotiating with third parties. HOA boards frequently work with outside vendors. An attorney can represent your board’s interests in legal-related negotiations with these third parties.
- Representing the board in legal situations. If your HOA board ever needs legal representation (in a dispute with homeowners, for example), you’ll want a strong attorney on your side.
- Obtaining adequate insurance. HOA insurance can get very complicated, very quickly. You need to make sure that your association has the right amount of coverage, and that you have someone you can turn to who can help you settle complex claims and understand specific policies.
- Providing financial advice. Big financial decisions can leave your board in tricky situations. Every HOA board holds fiduciary responsibilities that are important to the wellbeing of the community. An attorney can consult on these crucial financial decisions to ensure that your board is completing its due diligence.
- Offering general legal counsel. HOA boards often run into many unprecedented issues on a regular basis. The expert advice of an attorney can prove invaluable to helping your board manage these issues effectively.
When should your HOA board hire an attorney?
The truth is, your HOA will almost certainly need an attorney at some point, so it is much better to be proactive about finding and retaining good help. That way, you won’t be scrambling to find an attorney when you’re already in the thick of a stressful situation.
How to find the right HOA attorney
Here are some tips to help you find the right legal help for your HOA.
- Find an attorney that specializes in HOAs. HOAs have unique legal needs, and an attorney who specializes in HOAs will be better equipped to help with yours.
- Consider your community. How often do you deal with legal situations, and how big/complex are they? Will you need help occasionally? Monthly? Weekly? This will allow you to set expectations as you search for the right attorney for your board.
- Talk to your management company. Your management company should have your HOA’s best interests at heart, and they can help you find and retain experienced legal counsel. Talk to your community manager to get the process started.
Your HOA board works hard to create a community that keeps your homeowners safe and happy. Hiring an attorney will make your job that much easier and will be well worth the expense in the long run.
Need more insight on HOA attorneys or community management? Contact Spectrum Association Management for refreshingly different management services that your board (and your homeowners) will love!