Serving on the board of your homeowner’s association (HOA) is an honor. It means that members of your community trusted you enough to elect you. It also means that you have a responsibility to your neighbors and the community as a whole.
Not only do you need to make choices that are in the best interests of the entire community, but you also sometimes need to take enforcement actions. Many HOA boards find themselves bogged down in paperwork and challenges when they attempt to improve their communities or enforce existing rules.
Working with a lawyer familiar with Pennsylvania real estate and HOA laws could help you better serve your community. How can a lawyer help?
By advising you on the law
Especially if no one currently serving on the board has legal experience or knowledge, the advice that a lawyer can provide may prove invaluable. For example, a lawyer can explain about the importance of consistency when enforcing rules.
The board cannot simply start enforcing rules against one resident while ignoring infractions from others. Whether you intend to change the rules or enforce them more assertively, having support and advice from a lawyer will reduce the chances of a mistake that could damage the board’s reputation and lead to expensive conflicts.
By creating or updating your bylaws
Every HOA has its own approach to what makes a community ideal. From limitations on how people manage their lawns to rules about the use of community resources, your HOA bylaws not only create responsibilities for homeowners but also give your board an opportunity to enforce those rules for the preservation of everyone’s property values and quiet enjoyment of their homes.
An attorney could help you update your bylaws to make them more compliant with current laws and modern trends. For example, you could add clauses requiring alternative dispute resolution services like mediation or arbitration before homeowners can pursue matters in civil court. You could also add new clauses clarifying the fees and other penalties the HOA will assess for infractions or late payments.
By helping resolve your disputes
Having an attorney available both to negotiate on behalf of the HOA and to review the current interpretation of the bylaws for accuracy and enforceability can go a long way towards minimizing the expense involved in resolving a disagreement with the homeowner.