Does Your HOA Need An HOA Attorney?

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An HOA attorney can help homeowners associations navigate the ins and outs of laws, conflicts, and their own governing documents. Attorneys are legal experts who can guide board members in managing a successful community.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring an HOA Attorney?

As its name suggests, an HOA attorney is an attorney who specializes in dealing with homeowners associations, condominiums, townhomes, and other associations. Communities can highly benefit from hiring an attorney in the following ways.

1. Provides Legal Advice

Many HOA boards struggle with making decisions, especially when those decisions might put them in liability. An attorney, though, can offer valuable insight and counsel, allowing the board to make a well-informed decision.

2. Assistance With Interpreting Laws and Governing Documents

Homeowners association attorneys are well-versed in federal, state, and local laws that apply to HOAs. Thus, they can help HOA boards interpret the law and ensure legal compliance. New laws are popping up every year, so the HOA needs someone to keep up with all the legislative changes.

Additionally, attorneys can also help communities understand their CC&Rs and bylaws. These governing documents are often written in legalese, making it difficult for those without a background in law to comprehend them fully. With an attorney, boards, and homeowners can better grasp the provisions that govern their communities.

3. Help With Amending Governing Documents and Enacting Policies

Now and then, an HOA will need or want to amend its governing documents. Perhaps a provision is no longer applicable, or the HOA has decided to add a new covenant. In this case, an attorney can help with the amendment process. They can guide the board through the process and ensure that amendments don’t conflict with existing laws or provisions.

4. Collecting Overdue HOA Fees

A homeowners association lawyer can also assist the board with delinquent accounts. When an HOA board fails to collect unpaid dues, it can refer the account to the association’s attorney, who will then take the necessary steps to collect the outstanding amount. Typically, this involves legal action, such as filing a lawsuit. 

5. Representing the HOA in Case of Litigation

No HOA wants to go through the painstaking process of litigation. However, it does happen, and most associations have faced at least one lawsuit. Homeowners sue their HOAs for even the smallest of issues, while HOAs have also been known to take legal action against owners.

Whatever the case, it is best to have an experienced attorney on the side of the HOA. An attorney can help protect the association’s interests, even if it goes to court.

How to Hire an HOA Attorney

Homeowners associations stand to gain a lot by employing an attorney. However, hiring the first attorney that appears on a search is unwise. Here are the considerations to make when hiring an HOA lawyer.

1. Evaluate Your Needs

First, the HOA board should evaluate the association’s needs. Does the HOA board just need someone who can provide legal counsel? Does it need someone who can review or amend the governing documents?

Perhaps an HOA needs someone to represent its association in court. If lawsuits happen more often than normal, the board should consider this. By evaluating the community’s needs, the HOA board can decide what services it requires.

There are many ways to start the search for an HOA attorney. An HOA can look online or request a neighboring association’s recommendation.

2. Set a Budget

Attorneys can be very expensive. As such, an HOA board should set a budget. How much is the association willing to pay for legal services? Allocate a portion of the operating budget for attorney’s fees. This way, an HOA board can exclude candidates who charge too high a rate.

3. Vet Your Candidates

Next, an HOA board should vet the candidates. This involves proper research, checking online reviews, and consulting references. The board should also inspect the lawyer’s client portfolio. 

Most importantly, candidates should have ample experience with HOAs and HOA law. During the interview, the board should ask about the number of HOA clients they represent, how they handle disputes, and other pertinent questions.

4. Look for Certain Qualities

As with any organization, homeowners associations handle all kinds of confidential and sensitive information. Thus, hiring an attorney who exhibits qualities such as trustworthiness, reliability, and professionalism is imperative. 

Attorneys are bound by attorney-client privilege, but the HOA board must have a good working relationship with their legal counsel. If an HOA board can’t fully trust its attorney, then it will constantly be looking over its shoulder.

5. Ask Your HOA Management Company

Finally, an HOA with professional management should contact its management company for assistance. Many management companies have legal departments that handle all sorts of legal issues. Others have a network of pre-vetted attorneys or law firms that they can recommend.

A Decision Worth Making

Association boards should definitely consider hiring an HOA attorney. Attorneys offer many valuable services that most HOA boards just don’t have the capacity or expertise to provide themselves. With an attorney the board can trust, an association can properly and promptly deal with legal issues, disputes, and actions.

88 Doors offers legal assistance to homeowners associations and condominiums in Texas. Contact us online or call us today at (512) 348-8821 to get a quotation!