As a property owner, a dispute with your homeowners’ association can drastically limit your property ownership rights. For this reason, if you are involved in a dispute, it is important to consult with a real estate attorney about your legal options. When HOAs are left unchallenged, they can continue restricting other owners’ rights. It is important for homeowners to protect all legal rights they have in a property.
Common Issues that Arise Between Property Owners and Their HOAs
There are myriad disputes that can arise between an HOAs and property owners within the jurisdiction of the Association. The disputes usually fall under one of three common categories:
Many HOAs enact basic maintenance requirements. Homeowners might be required to trim landscaping back from common areas, remove their trash cans in a timely manner, use only approved paint colors on exterior surfaces, or follow other similar maintenance regulations. In some cases, the regulation itself is unreasonable. If, for example, the HOA only allowed one approved paint color for houses, it would be unreasonable to expect all homeowners to find the exact shade from the same paint manufacturer. In such a case, the homeowner might need to petition the HOA for a more reasonable pain restriction.
In other cases, the regulation might be reasonable, but the penalties for violations are unreasonable. For example, a $500 HOA fine for failing to bring your trashcans inside after pickup day would almost certainly be considered out of proportion to the violation by most people. The homeowner could fight this penalty and petition the HOA for a more reasonable fine structure.
Use of the Property
Many HOAs have limitations on how a homeowner may use his or her property. Running a home business might be prohibited. Renting your property is generally allowed, but many HOAs have begun to prohibit short term rentals of less than thirty days. These types of restrictions can be financially devastating to an owner who purchased a property with the intent of renting it out on Airbnb or VRBO. Fortunately, in many cases, they can be fought.
Some of the most common – and hostile – HOA disputes occur over financial matters. HOAs generally have the authority to enact fines for violations, assess regular monthly dues, and create special assessments for large maintenance items (like replacing roofs or repaving a parking lot).
Homeowners can (and should) attend their HOA meetings to learn about proposed fees. They can raise objections and garner support to block any inappropriate fees. Of course, some homeowners are wrongly charged for fees that were not passed by the board. It is important to fight all erroneous charges. Obtaining legal advice from an experienced HOA lawyer can help you determine the best way of preventing unreasonable charges.
The Right New Jersey Real Estate Lawyer for Your HOA Dispute
Attorney Lawrence M. Centanni can help you protect your property ownership rights in disputes with an HOA. He is experienced in the many different issues homeowners can face with their HOAs, and he will fight hard to protect your legal rights. Call (908) 351-0028 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with an experienced New Jersey real estate lawyer.