A homeowner association, or HOA, is a private association whose tasks include creating a safe, comfortable, and aesthetic community for residents to live in. The organization works thanks to the volunteer efforts of the homeowners who live in the community. Homeowner association law is decided by the HOA Board of Directors and regulates the management of the community through state laws and local bylaws.
Unfortunately, many of these volunteers don’t know the right approach to managing a community and residents under the HOA law suffer. That’s where legal help comes in. Whether you are on the HOA Board of Directors or just unhappy with the way the community is functioning, hiring an HOA attorney can save you a lot of trouble.
Here are some homeowner association laws and tips to consider:
1. Know Your Reno CC&Rs
CC&Rs stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions. This set of rules is part of a legal document that keeps the community functioning. This document is recorded in the records of the county where the community is located. Once you buy a home in a Reno, NV community, you automatically agree to follow the Reno CC&R rules by signing the relevant documents.
Most CC&Rs in Reno are straightforward and easy to follow. For example, they may regulate the color of your roof and tell you where you can place the garbage can. If you don’t follow the rules, you become subject to penalties.
2. Try to Avoid Penalties
If you fail to follow the Reno CC&Rs, you can face penalties. Since you signed a binding document which states that you’ve read the rules and agreed to follow them, these penalties can ultimately land you in court if you fail to pay them.
For example, you decided to paint your roof bright green when the CC&Rs state that all the roofs must be painted neutral colors. In addition to the fines, you may be forced to repaint or replace the roof. If you do not, the HOA will file a lawsuit against you and if they win, you’ll be liable for their HOA attorney fees.
3. Pay Your Dues
By agreeing to the CC&Rs, you also agree to pay the HOA dues. They usually include monthly payments and occasional special assessments. All the dues are described in the CC&Rs. If you fail to pay the dues or fall behind on the payments, the HOA has a right to put a lien on your home.
HOA dues may be rather high. That’s why before choosing a home in the community, it’s important to find out about the fee dynamics. You can request the following information from the HOA:
- How often do the fee increases occur?
- What was the overall fee increase in the past 10 years?
- What do monthly dues cover? (Perhaps you still need to pay extra money for such things as garbage pickup)
- Are there any lawsuits pending? Someone has to pay for the lawsuit, so you may expect a special assessment.
- How many bells and whistles does the HOA have for its community? Each entry gate, pool, clubhouse, and fence that is community property should properly be translated as a future dollar sign when it needs maintenance.
4. Learn the Bylaws
The HOA usually has a board of directors, which is elected by other members of the community. There is usually a set of rules, called bylaws, to regulate the way the HOA works. For example, bylaws regulate such matters as:
- The frequency of HOA meetings.
- The format of the HOA meetings.
- Duties of the Board of Directors.
- Membership voting rights.
Homeowner association law may be complicated to deal with on your own. Even if you follow the rules, many unexpected matters can arise, which can’t be settled within the HOA. In such cases, don’t hesitate to hire an HOA lawyer.
Heather Ijames has represented numerous boards and homeowners. She is well-versed in HOA laws and seeks to protect your personal affairs and home. Contact Ijames Law for your HOA law needs or schedule a consultation.