Just look at any HOA forum and you can see that HOAs face a wide range of issues. Some are pretty common, while others are simply dumbfounding. While reading and participating in these online forums, I often see questions that should be directed to HOA attorneys. The responses to these questions will often encourage them to seek legal counsel. But… as you probably know, many HOAs don’t have a huge legal budget so hiring an attorney for every question can be a problem. On the other hand, failing to seek the counsel of a qualified HOA attorney can be very risky.
The trick is to find an attorney who will help your association accomplish its goals without blowing the budget. So what should associations look for in an HOA attorney?
Not all HOAs are the same, and neither are HOA attorneys. Most HOA attorneys will have a good understanding of common interest communities and the laws associated with them. Finding an attorney who represents communities like yours means they have more experience with situations you are likely to face. And more experience means they can help you avoid mistakes.
An attorney with experience in communities similar to yours will increase the likelihood that they will know the best course for your HOA when issues arise. Since the attorney knows how to address these common issues, time is spent on getting stuff done rather than researching the problem. I don’t have to tell you that when it comes to lawyers… time is money!
Let’s face it, nobody ever gets the bill from their attorney and says, “What a great deal!” But with the right attorney and the right price structure you can feel more confident that it’s money well spent.
I can’t say what the best price structure is for your HOA, maybe it’s hourly, or maybe it’s a prearranged price for specific services. Find an attorney who knows your situation, understands that you have a budget, and will place the interest of your HOA first. That doesn’t mean that that attorneys won’t bill you, but if they have your best interest in mind they will help your association get the best bang for the buck.
They say trust needs to go both ways and when it comes to HOA attorneys that is especially true. Associations need to trust that the attorney is looking out for their best interest. Attorneys need to trust that the HOA won’t do anything too stupid.
Sometimes associations will close off communication with their attorney for fear that they will run up a legal bill. Or perhaps they want to make their position in the dispute look better. Always be honest with your attorney and trust that they have your best interest in mind. But don’t be afraid to question your attorney if something doesn’t feel right.
Your relationship with your HOA attorney can offer a lot of peace of mind or it can be a source of frustration and anxiety. Clear and open communication about expectations, needs, and your budget will help you to work together to reach the goals of your association.
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