Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Handling problems with your HOA or condo association

Data published by the Community Associations Institute in 2017 showed that nearly 70 million Americans lived within a community governed by cooperative, condo or homeowners associations. 

Another study published in 2015 by the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest highlighted how at least 72% of those individuals living in these communities previously had a dispute with them. Some disputes between residents and these associations are more common than others. Know that these issues are often resolvable without either party having to part ways with significant funds. 

What do condo or homeowner associations often address with residents?

Many issues may prompt homeowners and condo associations to reach out to a resident. For example, they may contact a resident who falls behind in making association payments or someone who makes unapproved property modifications in violation of the community bylaws. These community bylaws may prohibit homeowners from painting their homes or allowing their grass to grow beyond a specific length. These bylaws may also forbid homeowners from erecting certain structures on their property. Alleged parking rules violations may even prompt these associations to contact a resident.

Most of these bylaws allow associations to assess fines for any violations of these covenants. A resident may also face a lawsuit should they not follow through in paying what the association says is due.

How you should respond to contact from your condo or homeowners association

You should never ignore a letter notifying you of a violation of association rules but instead request a meeting regarding it instead. You should apologize for any mistake and explain your actions (or inactions) once there. You’ll want to make it clear that you won’t make a similar mistake again. 

But what if the HOA accuses you of violating some unwritten rule? The best step when you’re accused of violating a non-existent bylaw is to request that they document it in writing. You should respond to them via written correspondence as well. 

Resolving homeowners or condo association disputes

The best-case scenario in any dispute with your association is that they’ll accept your apology and move on. You may need to bring a real estate attorney into the fold to negotiate with your community association on your behalf. A lawyer might be able to help you reach an amicable settlement with your association when litigation appears to be on the horizon.

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