Many HOA boards mistakenly believe that a lawyer’s only purpose is to defend you in the event of a lawsuit. But, a lawyer is actually an asset to any homeowners association. In New Jersey, HOA lawyers can help your board with a number of tasks.
First of all, lawyers can help you interpret your governing documents. Every homeowners association has a set of documents that regulate what they can do and how they must do it. The contents of these documents are unique to the association, though they may share some similarities with others. It is important to understand your governing documents fully so that you can adhere to them without fail.
You will also need to review and update your governing documents periodically. This way, you can identify any provisions that are out of date or have caused problems in the past. Then, you can work to amend them. Changing your governing documents, though, no matter how small the change, requires legal knowledge. You need to know what language to use and ensure that it does not conflict with existing laws and provisions. A New Jersey HOA lawyer can help with this.
Secondly, lawyers can help you with collection efforts. Oftentimes, an HOA will need to place a lien on a delinquent owner’s property and even initiate foreclosure proceedings. You can’t do these things alone. These are legal processes that require you to take predetermined steps and provide proper documentation.
Collecting unpaid dues is a natural part of your board’s duties. Without dues, your association would have nothing to fund its maintenance costs and other ongoing expenses. If you let owners get away with their debts, you are setting a dangerous precedent. Remember to enforce your collection rules and activities in a consistent manner. A New Jersey HOA attorney can help with this.
Thirdly, lawyers can represent the interests of your homeowners association. There are times when you will need to negotiate contracts with vendors and ensure you have proper protection. And, when you don’t have anyone with legal expertise on your board, it is easy to sign a contract that isn’t favorable to the association.
A lawyer can also represent the association if a personal injury takes place on HOA property or if there are disputes of any nature. They can examine your case, prepare all pre-litigation documents, and even represent you if the case goes to court.
Finally, lawyers can provide your board with legal advice on any matter concerning your association, even when it comes to taxes. HOA board members need to make decisions all the time. A lot of these decisions, though, have certain legal implications. One wrong move, and your board could face a lawsuit from one or more of the owners in your community.
Clearly, an HOA lawyer is something every homeowners association can’t do without. From interpreting your governing documents to advising you on certain decisions, lawyers are involved in virtually every aspect of HOA management. Since laws can vary from state to state, and even city to city, it is essential that your board hires a lawyer with knowledge of your local landscape.