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A homeowners association attorney represents and advises homeowners association board members on a wide variety of contract and property rights matters. The attorney is usually in charge of drafting community rules in a way that complies with governing law, enforcing those rules against homeowners, and providing broad advice to association members about leadership responsibilities and organizational structure. He or she also advises board members and residents as to their rights under law, and represents the association in any lawsuits.
Homeowners association law is a nuanced, highly specific branch of property law. The law sets out the sorts of power that a homeowners association can control, as well as setting out parameters for how that power can be executed. When neighborhoods or other defined communities agree to abide by a uniform set of rules, those rules are usually codified and enforced by a homeowner’s association board. The board is typically made up of individual residents, and is often filled by election.
In some respects, the homeowners association board becomes a quasi-legal entity, with insulated rules all its own. It is thus imperative for the board to secure legal representation and to make sure that all of its actions are carried out in a way that complies with the governing law. This representation is usually the task of the homeowners association attorney.
Homeowners association attorney job duties are primarily focused on advising. The lawyer will help the association review and update its rules to be sure that they do not violate governing laws. He or she will also provide guidance on how the rules can be updated.
The job description usually also covers rules enforcement against homeowners who are not in compliance. The attorney will typically contact the offending resident, explain the violation, and seek an amicable resolution. If the resident fails to cooperate, the attorney is usually the one who will begin legal eviction or other contempt filings. In many ways, the homeowners association attorney is the legal voice for the association.
As such, the attorney may also be called upon to represent the association in any outside legal proceedings. If a contractor did shoddy work in the development, for instance, or if a snow plow damaged association property, it is usually the lawyer’s task to seek remuneration and, if necessary, instigate a lawsuit. Should the association be sued, the homeowners association attorney would be the one to mount the association’s defense, as well.
Most of the time, representing the interests of a homeowners association is not a full time job. Homeowners association attorney careers usually involve representing numerous associations at once, or representing a few in addition to maintaining a related property law practice. There are no specific homeowners association attorney job requirements aside from a deep knowledge of the governing contract and property laws. So long as an attorney has an interest in homeowners association law and the time to dedicate to a particular board, the homeowners association attorney job is usually a relatively approachable one.
I know a homeowners association attorney and he absolutely loves his job. How did he wind up representing homeowners associations for a living? He wind up with one of them as a client, word got out and others sought out his expertise.
That is often how things go, isn't it? Do right by one client and others will follow.
An interesting area of law has to do with the winding down of homeowners associations. Believe it or not, dissolving a homeowners association is a somewhat complex matter.
Most of the time, the homeowners association can only be dissolved by the unanimous vote of its members (that's how it works around here, at least) so the homeowners association's attorney will have to make sure everything is done correctly along those lines. Also, what is to become of any real estate that the homeowners association owns? If it is to be donated to the city (that is somewhat common), then the attorney will have to step through that process with the city.
Also, there are issues such as money held by the homeowners association and what needs to be done with that.
There are attorneys out there who make a nice living helping homeowners associations dissolve. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
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