We Provide Creative Solutions
The attorneys at Schneider Buchel LLP regularly represent Homeowner Associations (HOAs) in all of their issues. We serve as general counsel to hundreds of community associations throughout New York State. We are veterans at handling virtually every type of legal issue impacting HOAs. Our firm offers HOA clients unique representation that is difficult to find anywhere else. We measure our success by our client’s satisfaction, often demonstrated by their decision to continue their relationship with us long after the issue that first brought them to us is resolved. If you are searching for a firm to handle a HOA issue that you are currently faced with, we can help. Call us or fill out a contact form to schedule a consultation today.
Here to Help With These Issues
Enforcement of the terms of the HOA’s Declaration, By-Laws, and House Rules
Our firm handles the enforcement of the terms of the HOA’s Declaration, By-Laws, and House Rules. It is important for HOA Boards to consult with an attorney who is familiar with representing HOAs, as oftentimes, Boards adopt policies and rules that they do not have the right to adopt without amending the governing documents by a vote of the Homeowners. We help our HOA Boards comply with their governing documents so they can avoid expensive lawsuits. We also defend the HOAs and their Boards in lawsuits brought by homeowners regarding these issues. Notably, one of the amendments we typically recommend to our clients is an amendment to the governing documents which requires the homeowner who sues the HOA and does not prevail to have to pay the HOA for the legal expense the HOA incurs due to the Homeowners baseless lawsuit. Generally speaking, HOAs have broad authority to address problems. However, if solutions are not developed in a timely fashion and good faith, they can take a long time and a lot of money to resolve and may result in legal action against the Board.
Non-payment of Assessment and Other Charges
One of the other significant issues facing HOAs is the non-payment of the monthly and other charges assessed by the HOAs Board (commonly referred to as the monthly and special assessments, or maintenance). The collection of these monies requires expertise and experience! HOAs are permitted to file a lien and thereafter foreclose that lien if the monies owed to the HOA are not paid. We have a department in our firm devoted to the collection of these monies and HOA lien foreclosures. As importantly, after the liens are foreclosed, our firm provides the HOA’s Board with practical advice on the options available (for example, selling or renting the unit and the risks involved or negotiating with a first mortgage holder to buy the HOA’s interest). We also work hard to collect all the monies owed to the association such as interest, legal fees and any other fees permissible by the associations’ governing documents or the law. We strive to expeditiously proceed with the collection efforts, resulting in the HOA obtaining a paying homeowner or collecting its monies through other means much sooner.
Contract Review, Drafting, and Negotiation
The attorneys in our firm are skilled at reviewing, negotiating, and drafting any contract that your community association would need. This includes management contracts, contracts with vendors such as security, landscapers, snow removal, and other similar vendors; employment agreements including collective bargaining agreements; AIA contracts for major construction/repair contracts; and contracts with professionals such as architects and engineers. It is extremely important to involve the community association’s attorney in the contract process as the proposals or contracts provided by vendors oftentimes leave the community association exposed to significant risks such as the transfer of responsibility for injuries or damages (covered by proper indemnification and insurance provisions), warranty applicability, timeliness of work, etc.
Regulatory Agencies and Code Mandates
Our attorneys are also adept at dealing with regulatory agencies and code mandates. We stay abreast of this frequently changing area of law so that our clients are aware of regulatory changes before they go into effect, making proactive compliance easier and eliminating the stress that comes with a finding of non-compliance. Our team can help you navigate the regulatory waters, and if necessary, prosecute or defend litigation in the area of the law.
Oftentimes, an HOA incorporates condominium sections into the HOA so that the HOA is essentially an “umbrella” over the condominium sections. We have guided many HOAs – Condominium schemes to “clean up” their governing documents so that the community and all of the respective Boards’ obligations (vis a vis repairs, improvements, collection of assessments, etc.) are handled by just the HOA board. In that regard, oftentimes, when the Offering Plans and governing documents contained therein (i.e. – Declaration and By-Laws) are drafted by the Sponsor’s attorney, they do not provide the simplest and most effective way to govern the affairs of the HOA. We have drafted amendments to many HOA’s governing documents to correct this issue.
Construction Defect Litigation
Almost all newly constructed community associations have to deal with construction defects when they are handed over control of the association’s board from a sponsor-controlled Board to a homeowner-controlled Board. We have skilled litigation attorneys in our litigation department who handle these claims every day. We guide our clients on everything from hiring the required professionals (such as experienced engineers) to properly complying with the warranty requirements of the offering plans (including preparing and properly sending the Warranty Claim Forms (where applicable). We help the Board navigate the very technical process in an effort to help Boards get their construction defects repaired or recover the money needed to make the repairs. We work closely with the experts as well. When necessary, we commence and litigate lawsuits needed to obtain the community association’s rights to get all of the relief the association is entitled to. Our representation includes every aspect of the litigation including appeals.
We also represent community associations in matters where contractors hired by the Board breach their contract and do not either perform the work required by the contract or perform it defectively. Our attorneys can help your Board navigate the issues that are encountered due to these circumstances. We will make every effort to resolve these claims without litigation but are fully prepared to effectively represent the Condominium when these efforts don’t result in a resolution.
And Can Help You With
• Financial security of the HOA
• Complex dispute resolution
• Negotiate, mediate, and litigate practical solutions
• Loans (CIRA Loans) for capital expenditures and repairs
• Contract drafting
Dedicated to Providing Excellent Client Care
Our commitment to client service means that we are more than willing to work with a HOA’s other professional agents in order to provide comprehensive representation. We understand we are not the only professionals advising you, so it makes sense for us to work directly with your professional team.
What Makes HOA Law Different
A HOA is an organization created by a real estate developer for the purpose of developing and managing a community of homes and townhomes. In exchange for giving up certain rights to the HOA, property owners get the benefits of the HOA such as the amenities provided (i.e. – Pools, clubhouses, landscape maintenance, security, etc.). HOAs are governed by their Declaration, By-Laws, and House Rules as well as the NY Not-For-Profit Corporation Law (as most HOAs are formed pursuant to the NY Not-For-Profit Corporation Law). HOA Boards are given the authority to enforce the covenants, conditions, and restrictions placed on the community in its foundational documents as well as manage the common elements of the development.
Many HOA Boards are often faced with issues relating to a lack of homeowners’ understanding of what a HOA is and the rights and responsibilities of both the HOA’s Board and the homeowners. This is often a result of the fact that many purchasers of homes in an HOA come from single-family residences which were not part of a condominium or HOA, where they had no restrictions (other than when a municipality’s involvement was needed). In essence, previously the homeowners could plant whatever plants they wanted to plant, paint their home whatever color they wanted it to be, and place whatever signs and fences they wanted on their property). When they move into a HOA, they often have difficulty understanding that they do not have those same rights in a HOA.
Our firm can help boards and managing agents navigate these issues with the non-compliant home owners.