A homeowners association can be beneficial to owners of condominiums, houses and other residential properties, but problems often arise when internal disputes are brought to the attention of the association. Effective dispute resolution is an essential pary of any successful HOA.
The Need for a Dispute Resolution Plan
As noted by law firm Swedelson & Gottlieb, most states have implemented laws that require a homeowners association to put a dispute resolution plan into place. Although there are some specific guidelines that must be followed when this plan is being established, creating a way to solve internal disputes as effectively as possible takes some research and thought.
Deadlines should be established with state laws in mind. Associations may be able to expedite the process in order to provide a more efficient resolution process. For example, many states give associations 45 days from the time that a dispute notification is received until a meeting must be held between both parties involved in the dispute. Holding this meeting sooner means less time wasted on conflict.
A Typical HOA Dispute Process
While solving conflicts may vary according to the state in which the HOA is located, there are some aspects of the process that are similar across the country. Los Angeles-based J & N Realty provides some insight into the process. A summary of the process is detailed below.
One party involved must request to initiate the dispute resolution process before it may begin. A written request will trigger the process. It is common for a member of the association and any owners involved in a dispute to be identified as the parties that will be actively participating in dispute resolution.
An initial meeting should be set to give both sides of the dispute the opportunity to voice concerns and explain any remedies that are being sought. This meeting will take place soon after the written request is received and must be held at a location that both parties have agreed upon.
If both parties are able to come to an agreement during the resolution meeting, this agreement will be put in writing and signed by each party to acknowledge that the dispute has been resolved. If an agreement cannot be made, it will be necessary for a third party to become involved in the process.
A meeting with the third party will determine how the conflict will be resolved. The third party must be neutral and able to present a resolution that takes the concerns of both sides into consideration. This resolution will be put into writing at the conclusion of the meeting.
A successful homeowners association that maintains a positive relationship with owners is dependent on the ability of the association to resolve disputes in a timely manner. Complying with state laws on the matter is the first step toward establishing an effective dispute resolution plan, but homeowners associations must learn how to communicate with owners and understand needs to reduce the instance of conflicts.