Community Association Law involves a number of interesting legal challenges. A homeowners association is the cornerstone of a planned residential community. The Association’s purpose is to bring continuity and order to the community by preserving the architectural integrity and to maintain the common areas. If an association is properly run, the association promotes the concept of community and protects the neighborhood’s property values. In many cases, associations have recreational facilities and clubhouse facilities that might not otherwise be affordable to homeowners and residents on an individual basis.
As the baby boomers age in our society, homeowners associations have become a much more popular part of the overall concept of residential living. The purpose of a residence in an association requires a mandatory membership in the association. The association provides the structure for operation and management of the residential community. In an association, the membership requires certain financial responsibilities and a commitment to abide by use restrictions and other rules of the association. In essence, it requires individual conformity for the good of the whole.
A homeowners association’s responsibilities may be limited to basic maintenance functions or they may be expanded to include extensive upkeep of the property as well as delivery of special services to individual residences (snowplowing, trash collection, etc.) To be successful, an association must be governed fairly and uniformly and it must have a reasonable level of participation by each homeowner.
The association has responsibility for maintaining the common elements as well as for managing the day to day affairs of the association, all in accordance with standards established by the governing documents when the association was first created. The association is governed by a Board of Directors which is elected by its members and those directors carry out the duties and the responsibilities to maintain the common elements and to enforce architectural standards. The association has officers such as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The officers are selected by the Board, which is elected by the members. The members of the board of directors and each officer of the association have a fiduciary relationship with the members of the association. The fiduciary relationship imposes obligations of trust and confidence in favor of the association. The members of the Board must act in good faith and in the best interests of the members of the association and not in the best interests of any individual member. The Board must exercise due care and diligence when acting for the community.
The operation of a homeowners association carries with it many of the very same duties and responsibilities as overseeing any other business. Serving as a board member is a valuable and rewarding experience that should be undertaken only by those who see it as an opportunity to serve their fellow neighbors while protecting and enhancing the assets of the community.
If you have any legal questions regarding Community Association Law, contact Bill LaForte at Trevett Cristo Law today. A major aspect of his practice, he currently represents about thirty homeowner associations, primarily in the residential setting, and they include condominiums, townhouses and single family residences which are located in an association.