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HOMEOWNERS HOAs

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Dispute resolution services for homeowners

There are more than 62 million people in the United States that live in HOA communities. When you buy a home in an HOA community you have agreed to abide by the CC&Rs and rules of the community. However, in each community an HOA board has been elected to collect dues, allocate funds, manage the community and enforce the CC&Rs and rules. HOA boards are made up of unpaid volunteers from the community. The HOA boards are empowered by the CC&Rs and state statutes that provide them with substantial power over what homeowners can and cannot do with their homes. Homeowners pay a lot of money for their homes and they want the freedom to use and improve their homes without significant interference from the HOA board. The HOA board on the other hand has the responsibility to enforce the CC&Rs and rules to maximize the property values in the community. Inevitably disputes arise between homeowners and HOA boards regarding their individual objectives.

But when a dispute arises, the parties are faced with the daunting task of litigating in court and spending tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees over a two year period to have their day in court. HLS has developed a unique Dispute Resolution Program that uses a combination of community training, mediation and arbitration to resolve homeowner disputes. We have tailored our program to maximize efficiency and to minimize costs, making effective dispute resolution available to everyone.

 

How HLS Can Help Your Community

Eliminate Homeowner Litigationimg1

Prolonged litigation between homeowners and their HOAs doesn’t benefit anyone. Litigation can cost a homeowner anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 and it often takes two years or more to get to trial. The longer the case goes on the more in attorneys’ fees the parties spend and the more entrenched they become in their positions. Prolonged litigation also tends to deeply divide communities. But even if the homeowner wins, the HOA board can appeal which would cost the homeowner an additional $20,000 or more and another year of their life. Then, if the homeowner wins on appeal the HOA may have to reimburse the homeowner their $70,000 in attorneys’ fees. Success right? Well, maybe not. If the $70,000 is paid out by the HOA insurance company, the HOA insurance rates will surely rise and that cost will be passed on to the community. If the $70,000 is paid from community funds, the community will either have less money to spend on maintaining and upgrading the community or the HOA could make a special assessment and you and your neighbors would have to pay extra money to replenish the funds spent in litigation. Your friends and neighbors might view your win in court as a punishment to them.

As you can see, litigating homeowner disputes in court doesn’t make much sense. But allowing HOA boards to have unchecked power and discretion is not a good idea either. To have happy and healthy communities there needs to be a balance. There needs to be an easy, open and honest way for disputes to be resolved without creating antagonism in the community and draining community funds. Using the HLS Dispute Resolution Program you will first have the opportunity to resolve your dispute with a qualified and knowledgeable attorney acting as mediator. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the dispute will be resolved by a fully qualified retired judge within 60 days so you and your community can move forward. Disputes should not consume years of your life and thousands of dollars. Get in, get out and move on.

Eliminate Efforts To Recall Board Members
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If homeowners do not have an easy and inexpensive method of resolving their disputes, they typically turn their attention to trying to remove board members that they disagree with. This turns into a power struggle which divides communities and often causes people to resort to personal attacks. If a quick and inexpensive dispute resolution program is in place homeowners can focus their attention on healthy dispute resolution rather than on divisive board member recall elections.

Reduce Homeowner Frustrationimg1

Before close of escrow, homeowners are provided with copies of the CC&Rs and Rules and Regulations of the community. However, what is unknown to them is how those CC&Rs and Rules and Regulations will be interpreted and enforced by the HOA Board. What causes even more frustration is that over time, as new board members are elected and as property managers change, the interpretation and enforcement of the community rules and regulations changes as well. And if you don’t comply, the HOA Board may put a lien on your house and can even sell it.

When homeowner complaints or concerns fall on deaf ears, their level of frustration increases. When there is not a quick and easy way to have their dispute heard homeowner frustration increases even more. With the HLS Dispute Resolution Program there is no reason for homeowners to be frustrated. At no additional charge, homeowners have access to a real estate attorney to help them understand the law and to help them resolve the dispute with the HOA. But if mediation isn’t successful, the dispute will be decided by a retired judge within 60 days.

Reduce Community Divisionimg1

When disputes arise within the community they should be quickly and efficiently resolved or they have a tendency to fester. When homeowners don’t have a healthy way to resolve their dispute with the HOA they often turn to social media and begin venting to their friends, neighbors and the entire world about their grievances. The details of the dispute  circulate throughout the community, and sometimes in the media, and over time the members of the community begin taking sides. These divisions within the community are not healthy. They create contention and animosity among neighbors living side by side. The longer the dispute remains unresolved, the deeper the divide becomes and the more difficult it becomes to bridge. Don’t let homeowner disputes spiral out of control and divide your community. The HLS Dispute Resolution Program provides a healthy outlet for easy, open and honest dispute resolution.

Increase Homeowner Participation
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Like any good government, an HOA operates more effectively with participation from its members. If homeowner concerns or complaints are disregarded and homeowners feel like their voice isn’t heard they will disengage and become apathetic to their community. When homeowners disengage it is very difficult to make any necessary changes in the community that require a majority vote of the members. Also, when there isn’t a healthy way to resolve disputes the board members often find themselves in the middle of a nasty argument. The result being that fewer and fewer members are willing to serve on the HOA board. And your community could find it difficult to fill the HOA board positions to effectively run the community.

With an effective dispute resolution program in place homeowners are able to have their voice heard which leads to greater homeowner involvement in the affairs of the community. In addition, the number of people willing to serve on the board will increase, giving the community more options to choose from when voting for board members. This type of homeowner participation is required for communities to thrive.

Happier Healthier Communities

Disputes in communities can actually be healthy. But if handled improperly they can be destructive and divisive. So, one of the critical requirements of a happy and healthy community is an easy, open and honest dispute resolution system that allows everyone’s voice to be heard. The difference between healthy communities and toxic communities is how effectively disputes are resolved.

Balanced Governance

The CC&Rs establish an HOA Board of homeowners elected from the community to make decisions that affect the lives and finances of each member of the community. HOA Boards are given great power to care for the well-being of the community. But like any good government there should be a way to keep their power in check. For those checks to be effective they must be easy for homeowners to access and implement. Previously, the only real way for homeowners to resolve their disputes was to file an expensive and time consuming lawsuit. There is now a better way. The HLS Arbitration Program is a simple way for communities to implement checks and balances so the rights of the entire community are protected and preserved.


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