If you are a newly elected member of your condominium complex’s Homeowners’ Association (HOA) or even just an active member of your community, you may think of an HOA’s duties as being fairly pedestrian: deciding what kind of refreshments to order for the complex holiday party, making rules about playing music in the condo gym, and, of course, what to do about that barking dog in the corner unit. But HOAs can face significant legal issues in any given year, from knock-down-drag-out wars between the HOA and a resident who is semi-secretly running a business on condo in violation of the CC&Rs, to owners that will not pay their fees no matter what, to multimillion dollar personal injury claims brought against the HOA by a person trespassing at the HOA pool. In such cases, it is important to have an HOA counsel who will defend and assert the HOA’s interests effectively.
Avoid Going With the “Brother-in-Law” Attorney
American law schools famously pump out far more newly-minted attorneys every year than there are positions (or, frankly, need) for lawyers in our society. As a result, many of those attorneys go into business for themselves and market themselves as being able to handle any legal matter you face, whether or not they have a clue as to how to effectively represent a party in a given situation. And this approach to the law can persist for years for many attorneys.
Thus, there could be many condo residents or even HOA members who have the brother-in-law, cousin, fraternity brother, and so on, that is a lawyer and is looking for business. When you are given a referral to a personal friend or family member of a resident, you have to think, is the future of the HOA’s vitality really worth putting into the hands of a person experienced in HOA law as a favor for someone?
Find a Lawyer Who Focuses On HOA Law
Most states have specific law which applies to HOAs, and so any attorney who consider working with should not only have knowledge of your state HOA law, but should have had some experience with working with HOAs.
Knowing the state statutes is one thing (and an important thing for sure), but what your HOA is really going to benefit from is an attorney who has been around the block a time or two in engaging the often tricky and messy world of matters such as enforcing the CC&Rs against a stubborn and unpleasant resident or collecting the all-important fees the HOA relies on for survival.
The more an attorney focuses on HOA law as a primary aspect of his or her practice, the more confidence you can have that this person will understand the challenges your HOA is facing, and how best to address them in the light of state HOA law.
Talk to as Many HOA Lawyers As Needed Until You Find One You Like
There is a misconception out there that effective attorneys cannot be friendly and engaging at the same time. That is flat-out wrong. If you do not feel welcomed and understood by your HOA attorney, odds are not great that you are going to have a great working relationship with that attorney.
Talk to as many HOA lawyers as you need until you find one that makes you feel like confident in not only his or her ability to effectively represent your HOA but also in his or her ability to understand your HOA and have a pleasant and effective relationship with you going forward in meeting all of your HOA’s legal challenges.
Contact an Arizona HOA Lawyer for Further Help
At Goodman Law Group, our sole focus is on meeting the legal needs of HOAs, including creating and implementing HOA policy and responding to homeowner concerns. Contact us today to discuss any legal challenge your HOA is facing.