Why Does My Homeowners’ Association Need An Attorney?
Florida is one of the U.S. states with the highest number of homeowners’ associations (HOAs), particularly in the southern part of the state. These bodies can seem all-powerful, making significant decisions for themselves and for those who own parcels in the association itself – but sometimes, HOA boards as a whole can benefit from the expertise of an attorney, particularly when a serious issue makes itself known. There are several situations when bringing in an attorney can be to the distinct advantage to your HOA board, as long as they keep the best interests of the HOA front and center.
Review, Update & Interpret Governing Documents
One of the major reasons for an HOA board to enlist an attorney – or even keep one on retainer, depending on the size and budget of the association – is that very often, the association’s governing documents will require interpretation and upkeep, and a knowledgeable attorney can perform these tasks in an unbiased and effective manner. With the help of an attorney, it can often be easier to identify provisions in the governing documents that are not being enforced, are out of date in general, or require adjustments after an election or other vote.
Negotiating With Vendors
While sometimes a community manager can perform this function, an experienced attorney can handle negotiations with vendors in order to increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome for the association. This is particularly important if negotiations may become acrimonious or will last a long time – the peace of mind that comes with having a licensed professional handle things cannot be overvalued.
Assisting With Collections
No board enjoys collections, but when someone purchases a parcel, they consent to paying assessments and other fees. Florida law establishes that if stated in the governing documents of the HOA, the association has a lien on each parcel “to secure the payment of assessments,” and sometimes, it does become necessary for the association to enforce the lien. This can, in extreme cases, even result in necessarily foreclosing on the unit – it is absolutely imperative to have a legal professional at your disposal in navigating these complex procedures. Trying to ‘go it alone’ can lead to mistakes that can deny your association the funds to which it is entitled.
Handling Liability Issues
In Florida, having an attorney to represent your HOA can even come in handy if someone is injured on the premises – complex legal issues of premises liability or negligence can be beyond the understanding of the average person, but most attorneys have at least some training in these matters. Even if your attorney is not ordinarily a litigator, they can still assist a trial lawyer with document preparation and planning strategy.
Contact A Tampa HOA Attorney
While HOA boards can handle many issues on their own, sometimes it is best to involve a legal professional. If you are a board member looking for legal help for your homeowners’ association, a Tampa HOA attorney from the Seward Law Office is ready and willing to try and assist. Contact our office today at 813-252-6789 to schedule a consultation.