Don’t let your HOA fall victim to bad press like this Indianapolis HOA. “For more than 100 property owners on the city’s northwest side, Tuesday was a day of confusion after homeowners found water-shutoff notices on their doors…. Property owners in Arbor Village pay their water bill to their homeowner’s association. The association is then expected to pay the water company but they apparently haven’t been making those payments.” 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis.In the past 50 years Homeowners Associations (“HOA”) have become an integral part of residential communities, providing for the governance, architectural consistency, and common-area maintenance. The benefits are numerous–increased and stable property values, great community amenities, a lack of ugly homes, nicely groomed yards, and a quiet community. In theory, when the HOA rules are followed, it is an ideal community. However, every HOA is bound to have its problems—whether it is the rabble rouser at every HOA meeting, the member who refuses to comply with the HOA rules, a poorly kept yard, or members with delinquent HOA fees. Retaining an attorney to provide advice can be very advantageous to handle these issues.
HOA Laws : If you live in a subdivision in Virginia that maintains your community’s common area or is allowed to or impose fees on owners for the maintenance and/or services of the common area and lots, then you live in a community formed and governed by the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, Va. Code § 55-508. What this really means is that by purchasing a home in this community you become a member of an HOA. There are many important legal issues that the HOA’s governing body needs to know. Hiring a Virginia HOA attorney to help navigate these complex and diverse issues is a good idea.
HOA Collections : HOA members may become delinquent on their HOA fees, and one remedy available to HOAs is through the courts. Filing a law suit and obtaining a judgment against the delinquent member for HOA dues is an effective tool for HOAs. An attorney can assist in collecting the debt, and the HOA may be awarded attorney’s fees and for costs incurred to obtain the judgment. Attorney’s fees are not always awarded as it is often left to the court’s discretion. HOAs can have a provision in their declaration, i.e. their governing documents, entitling them to attorney’s fees and costs from delinquent members. Going to court and obtaining a judgment is a useful method for HOAs to collect fees from delinquent members, and is a determination that the HOA must make, and the HOA should consider its size and the amount of the HOA fees when considering whether litigation is an appropriate course of action to take. An HOA lawyer can handle collections for the HOA and take pressure off an HOA with many delinquent members.
HOA Litigation : Litigation is expensive, but it can be avoided. Believe it or not, sound legal advice can help an HOA understand the law and its liability in order to take the right course of action. Keeping an HOA attorney on retainer will allow the HOA to take the initiative in resolving disputes before litigation commences.
HOA governing bodies will change over time, the new members in leadership positions may not understand the law, the HOAs governing documents, or how to handle disputes with unruly owners. Having an HOA attorney on retainer can help provide consistency and peace of mind. The attorney may attend HOA meetings, they will be familiar with the law and the HOA’s governing documents, and understand the issues the community is having.
Fairfax Real Estate Lawyer: If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia real estate law attorney or Virginia property lawyer, contact Keithley Law, PLLC, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.
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