A well-managed homeowner or condominium association can offer many benefits to homeowners. These can include maintenance services, great aesthetics, stable property values, and a secure community. Residents obtain these benefits by paying association assessments that are used to foster and maintain a positive standard of living.
Community associations are controlled by “governing documents,” which include the rules and restrictions owners and residents must follow. When issues emerge, an association must navigate a sometimes complicated web of recorded documents, state statutes, policy documents and even local ordinances.
Attorneys who specialize in community associations understand how to operate within this often-complex world and can play an important role in creating a well-run community. Here are some of the key ways an experienced attorney can help:
- Interpreting complicated governing documents. A community association’s governing documents can include Declarations, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, Indentures, Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws and Rules and Regulations. Each association has its own unique set of governing documents depending on the type of community and the developer who originally built the community.
- Ensuring legal compliance. Given the complex web of governing documents, it is important that the board be fully informed in order to limit risks associated with mismanagement. Whenever an association is seeking to take or defend against legal action, a community association attorney can provide guidance that adheres to governing documents, and also ensures compliance with other applicable laws that may apply, including as an example, the U.S. Fair Housing Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act.
- Helping with collections. To preserve the benefits of living as part of a community association, all members must pay their dues in-full and on time. Often community associations do not have other sources of income. So, what happens when a member is consistently delinquent or stops paying? The association’s governing documents dictate what collection methods must be followed. Having an attorney involved who understands your community’s needs often leads to quicker and less stressful resolution.
- Handling disputes. Thorny circumstances can result when owners don’t comply with association standards, or if there is disagreement about how to uphold those standards. In addition, sometimes the association may have disagreements with its service providers or vendors. Community association attorneys are trained and experienced in resolving disputes in the most efficient way possible.
Compliance with community rules and obligations are part of owning a home. Community association attorneys are here to help you keep homeownership a positive experience.
Stephen Davis is an attorney at Carmody MacDonald P.C. He focuses his practice on litigation and represents over 100 homeowner and condominium associations in the greater St. Louis area. He can be reached at [email protected] or 314-854-8600.
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