Life within a homeowners’ association isn’t always harmonious. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, a homeowner might find him- or herself at odds with the HOA and its rules and bylaws. This can make for an awkward and uncomfortable situation for everyone involved, but there are usually steps that can be taken before things get ugly.
Most HOAs have it written into their bylaws how disputes should be handled. If homeowners don’t follow these dispute mitigation paths, they can be in violation of the HOA agreement and subject to disciplinary action.
Generally, the first step, whether it’s specifically outlined or not, is to bring whatever the issue is to everyone’s attention at the next available homeowners’ association meeting. This is an ideal way to open a dialogue about the issue, allow others to weigh in on it, and possibly come to a resolution before it goes any further.
If no resolution can be reached, the next step is usually arbitration. This is when a designated third party sits down with the HOA and the homeowner, listens to both sides of the argument, and makes an unbiased decision.
The last and most drastic step is the homeowner taking legal action against the HOA. This should always be the absolute last resort, as it can not only fracture the relationship between the homeowner and the HOA, it can have a ripple effect and create enmity among homeowners as well. But if all else fails, the homeowner can file a suit against the HOA as a legal entity and get the courts involved.
Disputes between homeowners and HOAs can be difficult, but if both parties are willing to follow through with proper resolution procedures, then both can come out with no hard feelings.
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