Assisting both association leadership and its members in Washington DC and Maryland
If you own a condominium within a managed association, or you manage one, there is a good chance you will have a disagreement about the rules or regulations of the condominium association (COA) or homeowner’s association (HOA). Nonetheless, owners implicitly consent to comply with the bylaws and rules by purchasing a home in the community. While some of these regulations might seem excessive or overreaching, homeowners generally must adhere to them. That said, there are instances where a homeowner has the right to seek legal remedies against the association, just as the association may have grounds to initiate legal action against a resident. You should seek the assistance of a Washington, DC Condominium Association Lawyer.
It is crucial to be well-informed about your rights as a property owner and community member. Daniel Zaharevich, a condominium association dispute attorney based in Washington, DC, can guide you through understanding these rights.
Where Do the Bylaws Originate?
Condominium Association regimes in Washington, DC are governed by contract law and statutory guidelines such as Title 42, Chapter 19 of the District of Columbia Code (§42-1901.01 et seq.), and foundational documents like the declaration and bylaws. The property developer typically initiated the creation of the associations based on the foundational documents, which community members can later amend. The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) often outlines and underscores the framework for managing and regulating the association and its relevant property. Prospective buyers are usually allowed to review these rules before completing their purchase.
CC&Rs and bylaws aim to preserve a community’s value, aesthetic appeal, and consistency. Before contesting any actions taken against you, it’s crucial to examine these rules thoroughly. If, upon review, you determine that your behavior doesn’t breach the CC&Rs, you may have grounds to challenge the actions imposed upon you.
Disputes against Homeowner & Condominium Associations
When functioning optimally, HOAs and COAs enhance property values and community standards by establishing and enforcing rules and resorting to litigation if needed. However, these associations often face criticism for rigid rule-setting and enforcement methods. Navigating disputes with HOAs and COAs requires an intimate understanding of Washington, DC statutes and extensive experience in interpreting commercial contracts and complex legal documents. Often, comprehension of the association’s own governing documents is just as crucial as understanding applicable laws.
If an HOA fails to meet its community obligations, it could face legal challenges. Some common grounds for disputes against an HOA may include:
- Unnotified or unapproved amendments to rules and regulations;
- Negligence in maintaining common elements;
- Violation of neighborhood covenants;
- Property boundary disputes;
- Nuisance complaints; and
- Inconsistent enforcement of governing documents.
As a property owner, you have a vested interest in creating and applying these rules. Should you perceive that the association isn’t adequately enforcing its regulations, you may have a valid case against your HOA.
Disputes Against Homeowners
Policies, rules and procedures of HOAs and COAs are typically initially put forth by the property developer as a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). These CC&Rs are generally revised or replaced by the association’s board of directors when the development shifts from developer to owner control. CC&Rs are likely to contain many use restrictions that bind members when they buy property in the community.
The primary mechanism for HOAs to enforce their rules is through levying fines. These fines may or may not be preceded by a warning letter and could include additional charges incurred by the association to rectify the violation. Accumulated or unpaid fines could result in a property lien and even lead to foreclosure proceedings initiated by the association. Zaharevich Law Office aims to resolve issues related to association rule enforcement as efficiently as possible, striving to avoid litigation whenever feasible.
Collection of Delinquent Assessments
Collecting monthly fees from unit owners is crucial for community association durability and longevity, as these funds are allocated for essential community maintenance and amenities. These collections are key to sustaining property values and the community’s overall well-being. In some instances, special assessments may be imposed for unanticipated repairs, often leading to disputes among members who had opted out of annual reserve contributions.
The importance of recouping overdue payments cannot be overstated. Zaharevich Law Office provides various legal solutions—from issuing demand letters to initiating lawsuits and property attachments—to address such delinquencies efficiently and ensure the association’s financial stability.
HOAs and COAs possess the legal right to place liens on properties for unpaid fees, rule enforcement, or delinquent assessments. Once a lien is in place, it restricts the owner from selling the property unless the debt is cleared, compelling them to settle the outstanding amount.
Associations are not obliged to wait for the owner to resolve the lien passively. They can initiate foreclosure procedures to sell the property and apply the proceeds toward the owed amount. Foreclosure is a judicial action where both parties can make their cases. Alternatively, property owners can propose a qualifying offer before judgment is entered. If accepted by the association, the owner can clear the lien and avoid foreclosure.
Consult a Washington, DC Condo Association Lawyer Before Purchasing a Condominium Unit
Whether you’re a homeowner navigating challenges with a developer, association, or its board, or an association encountering issues with a homeowner, it’s advisable to consult a licensed attorney before proceeding with legal measures. Many disputes can be resolved amicably without court action, and mediation may offer a viable solution. Zaharevich Law Office provides legal representation for homeowners and owners’ associations in HOA and condominium disputes. Contact our office today to discuss your situation with an informed legal expert.
Call 202-747-6478 to discuss your needs with a knowledgeable and experienced Washington, DC and Maryland community association lawyer.