Top Reasons Homeowners Sue HOAs
Homeowners file lawsuits against their homeowner’s associations (HOAs) for several reasons. Upon moving into a new housing development or condominium, people may be required to read and sign a contract known as Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). While these forms may dictate what homeowners can and cannot do with specific rules, HOAs are also required to follow the rules in place.
If an HOA fails to adhere to terms discussed in a contract or otherwise engage in fair practices with residents, homeowners may be able to sue them depending on the situation. The following are some of the specific reasons why homeowners may sue HOAs.
Failure to Maintain the Property
One of the most common reasons why homeowners sue an HOA is the HOA’s failure to repair, replace, or otherwise maintain property following natural wear and tear. Depending on the state, HOAs may be responsible for maintaining both common areas and individual units. Homeowners can consult their contracts to determine what their HOA is required to cover.
CC&Rs serve as contracts for HOAs. While residents are required to follow rules that appear in this document, HOAs are equally responsible for following the rules in place for them. This means that if an HOA decides to install new unneeded facilities or causes other disruptions that negatively impact residents, it may be possible for homeowners to sue the HOA if these actions are in violation of a contract.
Discrimination or Harassment
While HOAs can develop their own rules as detailed in the CC&R, they aren’t allowed to establish any rules based on “protected characteristics” such as marital status, race, age, or the number of children in a family. Such actions may constitute discrimination or harassment in violation of housing discrimination laws.
Denial of Plans
In some cases, homeowners may want to install architectural features or engage in other plans for their property, which the HOA may in turn deny. Regardless of whether the HOA was in the right, homeowners may attempt to sue for denial of plans.
Homeowners may sue HOAs over disputes involving pets. For example, homeowners have attempted to sue HOAs for allowing tenants to move into a property with emotional support animals.
Misappropriation of Funds
Homeowners often pay as much as hundreds of dollars to HOAs, which may not always go to their intended causes. Sometimes homeowners may sue HOAs if they discover that the HOA is spending too much of homeowners’ money on attorney fees or other expenses that don’t fall under what the money should go toward.
These are some of the most common causes for lawsuits against HOAs. Oftentimes, the HOAs aren’t responsible and have done nothing wrong. In other cases, the CC&R and other documents may not be entirely clear regarding responsibility, which can lead to some uncertainty about what to do on the part of an association and the need to consult a real estate lawyer for guidance.
Regardless of the issue, both homeowners and HOAs should take the time to understand governing documents and laws to avoid potential legal issues.