The attorneys at Schneider Buchel LLP regularly represent Home Owners Associations (HOAs) in all of their issues. We serve as general counsel to many HOAs.
An 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 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.
Often times, 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, often times, 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.
Many HOA Boards are often faced with issues relating to a lack of home owners understanding of what a HOA is and the rights and responsibilities of both the HOA’s Board and the home owners. This is often a result of the fact that many purchasers of homes in a HOA come from single family residence which were not part of a condominium or HOA, where they had no restrictions (other than when a municipality’s involvement was needed (i.e. – an addition to the home). In essence, the home owners previously 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 handles the enforcement of the terms of the HOA’s Declaration, By-Laws and House Rules. In that regard, is important for HOA Boards to consult with an attorney who is familiar with representing HOAs as, often times, Boards adopt policies and rules which they really do not have the right to adopt without the vote of the Home Owners to amend the HOA’s governing documents. We help our HOA Boards comply with their governing documents so they can avoid expensive lawsuits. We also defend the HOAs and HOA Boards we represent from 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 home owner who sues the HOA and does not prevail to have to pay the HOA for the legal expense the HOA incurs due to the Home Owners baseless lawsuit. Generally speaking, HOAs generally have broad authority to address problems. However, if solutions are not developed in a timely fashion and in good faith, they can take a long time and a lot of money to resolve.
One of the other significant issue 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 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 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.
We work pro-actively with HOA Board members and their professionals to ensure the efficient governance and financial security of the HOA. We are also no stranger to situations that require complex dispute resolution. Our firm specializes in helping communities negotiate, mediate, and litigate practical solutions.
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 with your professional team rather than asking the board to play “middleman”.
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.
At Schneider Buchel, 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 clients’ 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.