Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Litigation with Property Owners Associations

As a general practice litigation attorney on Hilton Head Island, over the years I have represented litigants on seemingly every side of disputes dealing with Property Owners Associations (POAs), also known as Homeowners Associations (HOAs). These POAs are perhaps best understood as a mandatory, community-wide organization that is governed by a Master Deed, and is run by a small group of community leaders, a Board of Directors, that includes a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary.

The POAs, through their Boards of Directors, are responsible for the ownership and maintenance of all common areas of their communities, including parks and paths, as well as community infrastructure, including drainage-systems, signage, and offices, as well as the community's security needs, which may be handled by a private contractor. The cost for such community maintenance is estimated, budgeted, and then evenly divided among all community members, who pay regular annual dues to provide for such needs, as well as special assessments to provide for any additional community needs. The Board of Directors typically exercises its authority for necessary decision making during regularly scheduled meetings, which are open to all members and of which a written record is typically made.

Typical litigation relating to POAs concerns the collection of association dues, foreclosure of association liens, enforcement of association rules and regulations, elections of directors, levying of special assessments, amendments to Master Deeds, creations of easements, and resolving property-line disputes. In dealing with the POAs, members typically may request POA maintenance services, POA information, enforcement of rules and regulations, and accounting of POA finances. In dealing with members POAs typically require the payment of dues, exterior home and yard maintenance, prior approval of exterior construction, and public conduct and behavior in accordance with community standards.

Of course, these are general principles concerning POAs and common issues relating to them. Because every situation is unique, please give me a call for advice as to your particular case.

-Joseph DuBois