For Texas residents, purchasing property that includes a homeowners association (HOA) can definitely be a mixed blessing. These organizations are designed to protect property values by enforcing restrictions on paint colors, landscaping choices and other elements of design. Unfortunately, these rules can be overly restrictive or unfairly applied, leading to disputes between homeowners and the HOAs originally designed to protect them. Working with an established Houston real estate law firm can provide added help for homeowners in achieving a fair resolution for issues arising from HOA regulations in the modern real estate marketplace. Here are five tips for dealing with HOA disputes successfully.
Read the Rules
The rules established by your HOA are typically available through board members or as part of your real estate purchase documentation. These regulations may cover a wide range of general topics, including exterior paint choices, landscaping and lawn maintenance, parking issues, fences and acceptable additions or structural changes to your home. By familiarizing yourself with these rules, you can avoid most conflicts with your HOA and can ensure the highest possible property values throughout your neighborhood or development.
Narrow Down the Problem
HOA problems typically result from one of two scenarios:
- The HOA has lodged a complaint against the homeowner for failure to comply with established covenants, conditions and restrictions outlined in the official documentation for these groups.
- The homeowner has a grievance against the HOA for unfair treatment, unequal treatment, overly restrictive regulations, conflicts of interest or improper use of funds collected by the HOA from homeowners.
Pinpointing the issue can help homeowners pursue their claims against HOA boards more effectively and with less distraction. By identifying the root of the problem, Texas residents can sometimes make a positive difference for their entire neighborhood.
Keep Careful Records
If you feel that your HOA has targeted you unfairly or that the rules established by this organization place an undue burden on you as a homeowner, it is essential to document every interaction you have with HOA board members to support your case. For example, if you wish to add a child’s playhouse to your back yard, it is important to maintain records not only of the responses from your HOA but of your own correspondence as well. This can provide a solid basis for your Katy real estate law firm to proceed with your case if your dispute does go to trial.
Seek Strength in Numbers
Touching base with your neighbors can often provide you with added perspective on your HOA issues. In some cases, others in your neighborhood may be having similar problems with the HOA and may be willing to join forces with you to try to change the regulations and to achieve a fair settlement for these disputes. This is especially effective for homeowners who wish to change the underlying rules of the HOA; by collecting signatures and amassing support, these individuals can deliver a powerful message to the HOA board regarding public perception of their policies.
Consider Conflicts of Interest
In some cases, HOA board members may have serious conflict-of-interest issues when making important decisions on behalf of homeowners:
- Hiring landscapers which one or more board members has a personal or familial relationship with
- Allowing personal motivations to affect decision making in the HOA board environment
- Misuse of funds contrary to the provisions of the HOA documents
If these conflicts of interest are suspected or known, homeowners should consult with an attorney immediately to protect their legal rights and to ensure that any irregularities are resolved quickly.
The Houston, Katy and Sugar Land real estate law experts at Lambert & Jakob can provide solid support for homeowners in managing all types of HOA conflicts and disputes. As recognized specialists in the fields of civil litigation and real estate law, the attorneys at Lambert & Jakob are well qualified to pursue claims against HOAs both in and out of the courtroom setting. Call us today at 713-640-5700 to discuss your concerns with one of our knowledgeable attorneys. We look forward to the opportunity to help resolve problems with your HOA.