Legal Responsibilities of an HOA Board
The role of an HOA board is critical in maintaining the quality, aesthetics, and harmony within a residential community. These elected individuals are responsible for making decisions that affect the entire HOA. It is crucial to understand that these responsibilities are not just administrative or managerial but are also legal.
The primary legal responsibility of an HOA board is its fiduciary duty to the HIA. This means that board members must act in the community’s best interest, putting the community’s needs before their own interests. For instance, if a board member owns a landscaping business, they cannot award contracts to their company without considering other bids and ensuring the community benefits from the best price and service.
Enforcing Rules and Regulations
An HOA board is legally responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations set forth in the association’s governing documents. This includes ensuring all homeowners comply with standards related to property maintenance, noise levels, and approved architectural changes. If a homeowner violates these rules, the board must take fair and consistent action, such as issuing fines, to maintain order within the community.
Another key legal responsibility of an HOA board is managing the association’s finances. Board members must ensure that the association’s funds are used wisely and that accurate financial records are maintained. This includes setting and collecting annual dues, planning for long-term maintenance and repairs, and providing financial statements to homeowners. Mismanagement of funds can lead to legal implications for the board.
Maintenance and Repairs
The HOA board is legally responsible for maintaining and repairing common areas such as parks, swimming pools, and clubhouses. The board must ensure that these areas are safe and well-maintained for the use of all homeowners. Negligence in this area can result in legal action if a homeowner is injured due to poor maintenance.
HOA board members must adhere to federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination. This includes the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. If a board member discriminates against a homeowner, the HOA can be held liable, and the individual board member can also face personal liability.
Steps to Protect the Board
To protect itself from potential legal liability, an HOA board should consider the following steps:
- Adhere to governing documents: The board should strictly follow the HOA’s governing documents. This includes the bylaws, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), and rules and regulations. These documents serve as a legal framework for the operations of the HOA.
- Obtain legal advice: When faced with complex decisions or disputes, the board should seek advice from a lawyer experienced in HOA laws. This can help ensure the board’s decisions are legally sound.
- Regular training: Board members should regularly participate in training to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities. This training can include understanding HOA laws, financial management, and conflict resolution.
- Transparency: The board should maintain transparency in its operations. This includes sharing financial statements with homeowners, keeping meeting minutes, and communicating decisions effectively.
- Insurance: The board should ensure that the HOA carries sufficient insurance coverage. This can protect the association and the board in case of lawsuits or claims from homeowners.
An Annapolis HOA Lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen Can Help Direct Your Board
Ensure your board fulfills all its legal responsibilities by meeting with an Annapolis HOA lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen today. Contact us online or call us at 410-295-3000 to schedule a consultation. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, we serve clients in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, St. Mary’s County, Worcester County, Kent County, and the upper and lower Eastern Shores of Maryland.