What Are the Powers of a Homeowners Association?
A homeowners association (HOA) provides residents with many benefits, from landscaping and snow removal to amenities, like golf courses, fitness centers, and pools. The members of the HOA are volunteers who work together to improve the community and enforce the rules set forth by the association.
While these offerings come at a cost, most homeowners appreciate the benefits of the HOA and the value that it brings. HOAs are becoming increasingly more common, so it is essential to understand the power of an HOA, what an HOA is not allowed to do, and how disputes with community members can be resolved.
A growing number of residential communities have an HOA, which provides a range of benefits and perks to homeowners. The following are some of the main advantages of an HOA:
• HOA maintains the home’s exterior, which includes landscaping, trash pickup, snow removal, cleaning and painting the exterior of the building and repairing roofs, walls, and building components.
• Single-family homes that are part of an HOA often sell for more than similar homes not managed by an HOA.
• Many HOAs include a range of amenities, including swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, and golf courses.
• HOA fees often include essential water and gas and sewer, trash, and recycling.
• If your neighbor plays loud music late at night or does not clean up after their dog, the HOA can help resolve the conflict.
What Is an HOA Not Allowed to Do?
While it is essential to have a thorough understanding of an HOA’s powers, it is also important to understand some actions that it is not allowed to do. For example, an HOA cannot discriminate against current or potential members based on race, sex, national origin, disability, or religion. In addition, although rules play a significant role in an HOA community, the board may not impose new rules arbitrarily. Proper procedures must be followed when creating or amending the HOA rules. In addition, all members must be given adequate notice of any changes to the rules. If an HOA violates any of these rules, it could face legal consequences. The following are additional examples of what an HOA cannot do:
• Restrict homeowners from voicing opinions or complaints.
• Prevent homeowners from filing a lawsuit against the HOA for issues like breaching its fiduciary duties.
• Forbid satellite dishes.
• Hold an HOA meeting without providing adequate notice.
How Can an HOA Resolve Disputes With Members?
If a member disagrees with the HOA or wants to dispute a decision, the HOA must allow the member to meet with the board to discuss the issue. This process is known as internal dispute resolution (IDR). If an agreement can be reached during the IDR, the agreement is put into writing, and both parties sign the document. If the IDR does not resolve the issue, the board will try to solve the problem using a process called alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which involves the following three steps:
• Negotiation: This is an informative, cooperative process where the board and homeowner can address the problem, brainstorm solutions, and negotiate final terms.
• Mediation: A trained mediator will help both parties create a settlement agreement if the negotiation is unsuccessful. This is a bit more expensive and time-consuming than negotiation.
• Arbitration: If mediation does not work, arbitration may be necessary. This is a formal process where an arbitrator reviews the evidence and testimony and renders a final decision.
Ocean City HOA Lawyers at Oliveri & Larsen Can Protect Your HOA
If you require legal support for issues related to your HOA, do not hesitate to contact one of our Annapolis HOA lawyers at Oliveri & Larsen. We will assist you with your legal matter and help you reach the most favorable outcome. Call us at 410-295-3000 or contact us online to schedule an initial 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.