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3 of the common reasons why HOAs are sued

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Condominium and Planned Community Practice

People intentionally choose to live in communities governed by homeowners associations (HOAs). They may want the security that comes from knowing people can’t remodel their homes in crazy ways or from strict local noise and property use ordinances.

Most people who live in HOA communities cooperate with the HOA, pay their dues and enjoy living in the community. However, some homeowners end up in a dispute with their HOA. Sometimes, homeowners even need to take the local HOA to civil court.

What are some of the reasons that homeowners sue the HOA managing their community?

They raise claims of negligence

Did the HOA fail to install a locking gate in the fence for the swimming pool, which meant that your child and a friend gained access when there was no lifeguard and nearly drowned? Did negligent maintenance of communal areas lead to a tree losing a major branch that damaged your vehicle or your house?

When negligent maintenance of the community, including shared spaces, results in losses for you, you may be able to take the HOA to court for that negligence.

They fight against uneven rule enforcement

HOAs typically impose a number of different restrictions on what residents can do with their properties. From limiting the size and timing of social gatherings to rules about how people maintain their lawns, HOA rules can lead to enforcement actions.

Homeowners who are not compliant with the regulations may face fines or other penalties, including rescinded access to shared community amenities. If the HOA has enforced rules against you that it ignored in other situations, that biased or prejudiced rule enforcement could give rise to a civil lawsuit.

They want to stop an action by the board

Homeowners who want to prevent the demolition of a community center or the addition of a swimming pool to public spaces and who believe that the HOA board did not follow the proper procedures before making a decision could ask the courts to intervene. Homeowners could also take action against the board for other infractions, like holding closed-door meetings or engaging in acts of obvious corruption or discrimination.

If you are in a dispute with your HOA board, you need to know when you require outside help to resolve those matters. Pursuing an HOA dispute in civil court could help you reach a more favorable resolution to the matter. Pennsylvania also has laws encouraging mediation of HOA disputes and many associations have adopted the mediation provisions encouraged by the law. In some cases, the PA Attorney General’s office is even empowered by the law to help force associations to comply with their governing documents. A lawyer familiar with these laws can help you to take the right path to resolution.