In Oklahoma, Homeowners’ Associations are becoming more common and we’d like to help anyone who is a member to fully understand their obligations and options.
The Homeowners’ Association, or “HOA,” is the governing body of a subdivision or complex.
When you buy real estate in an area governed by the association (in the subdivision or complex), you automatically become a member of the association. This usually entails paying fees or dues to the HOA. These fees will typically cover maintenance for shared common areas to the community, including swimming pools, golf courses, rec centers, and sidewalks. There will also be some rules that each homeowner must abide by, which may include regulations regarding acceptable exterior paint colors, pet rules, noise pollution rules, and other such provisions regarding the homeowner’s enjoyment of the property.
The HOA Board
Most Homeowners’ Associations are comprised of a governing board. Some may operate more like a democracy, in which each person has a vote when an issue arises. The HOA manages the properties and also the fees that are paid in by homeowners. In the event of a dispute, it may also help to resolve issues between neighbors by acting as a mediator. An advantage of having an HOA in your area is that it can help stabilize property values by preventing property value decline due to the appearance of an unsightly neighboring home.
What Happens If There Is a Dispute?
There are a number of different issues that can arise when members don’t agree with the HOA’s action.
If a homeowner paints their house a non-permitted color, doesn’t maintain their lawn, or has political signs that violate the HOA rules, then that homeowner may receive a citation for the violation and a fine.
Disputes may also arise if the HOA tries to impose rules that are not included in the HOA covenants or if it treats certain members more favorably than others. Members may also feel that the association is not properly managing the HOA funds if they are required to pay additional expenses and collectively raise a complaint. Most of these issues and disputes can be resolved either by the HOA or settled between neighbors without the need for legal action.
When Is a Legal Resolution Required?
In the HOA covenants, the homeowners may be required to participate in mediation in good faith in order to resolve any disputes. Arbitration is always encouraged before legal action as the parties will normally have to continue some sort of relationship after the dispute is resolved. However, in some situations, the homeowner may feel that they have no alternative but to seek resolution in the courts. The aggrieved property owner may sue the HOA, (a separate legal entity) for breaching their own regulations and seek compensation. If successful, the court might order the HOA to perform a specific action, usually to obey the HOA regulations. In some instances, it may impose an injunction which would prohibit the HOA in participating in certain HOA related activity.
Taking on the HOA via legal action can seem like an overwhelming and daunting prospect, which is why seeking the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is always recommended. At Rick Dane Moore & Associates Law Firm, P.L.L.C. we will always meet with you to discuss the various options available when dealing with an HOA dispute. We welcome your call today at (405) 366-0373 to discuss your particular case.