How to Protect Your Community Association from a Lawsuit
Facing litigation from an HOA member is something all board of directors must take seriously. From pet issues to issues involving discrimination, knowing how to handle the situation is best left to a qualified attorney and a professional community association management team. Navigating real estate and other types of associated laws is something most volunteer board members don't understand, nor do they have time for. Learn more about why people sue a community association and how you can protect your HOA and prevent lawsuits from occurring in the first place.
Reasons Why People Sue an HOA
There are several key reasons why people sue an HOA. Let's take a closer look at what causes an HOA problem to escalate into litigation:
Election Disputes—Recalls, recounts, and other types of election disputes are time-consuming yet a common example of an HOA lawsuit. When one candidate for board seat loses to another, their disappointment and anger can tie-up lawyers and delay a new board from moving forward.
Restricting Board Actions—If a board takes action concerning a matter for which there is much opposition, watch out for a lawsuit. Members may file a suit in order to delay or stop the action, like that of a capital improvement project.
Poor Upkeep—While some members may not like plans for a capital improvement project, others may sue due to a lack of improvements. This type of lawsuit tops the list of why people sue their HOA: The failure to repair, replace, or maintain common areas. Poor upkeep of common area property can also result in personal injuries, extending litigation and resulting in some form of financial compensation.
Discrimination—Many businesses and associations face discrimination lawsuits. Claims of discrimination against an elderly or disabled person can result in negative press for your association and stiff penalties from the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.
Other types of lawsuits can include issues involving pets and bylaw violations. Associations may not have done anything wrong, or they may have been unaware of particular laws. No matter what the circumstances, don't try to go the legal route alone. Seek legal representation without delay.
Be Proactive in Preventing Lawsuits
With proper community association management, board members can prevent lawsuits against the association. Open communication regarding controversial projects, repairing common areas, and having fair elections are all proactive approaches to good management.
Understanding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act are essential for a successful association. Consulting with the HOA attorney is the best way to avoid any possible conflicts or misunderstandings.
In some cases, a lawsuit is just that—a misunderstanding. It may result from the board's lack of understanding or from the member. That's why communication is key to creating engagement and preventing lawsuits.
Some members will take you to court no matter what. To protect your association, make sure your HOA has commercial liability insurance coverage. Once your board receives notice of a lawsuit, immediately contact the association's attorney.
A professional community association management team can help your board effectively govern your neighborhood. By assisting the board with such issues as covenant enforcement and communication, your HOA board is better positioned against lawsuits.
Receiving legal papers from a member or their lawyer is a stressful and overwhelming experience. Board members are volunteers who have careers and families outside of their board duties. Preventing lawsuits is vital to keeping your association thriving and successful.
Prevent a possible lawsuit by partnering with RealManage. Our professional and highly experienced team provides the guidance your board needs to stay out of court. We provide innovative HOA management services to community associations of every variety. To learn more about how RealManage can assist your HOA, contact us today.