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How to handle a dispute with your HOA

Homeowners often choose to live in an association or planned development because it alleviates some of the stress and responsibility of home ownership. If you live in an association, you may not need to worry about disruptive neighbors, poorly maintained premises or dangerous pets nearby. 

However, despite all the reassurances that might come with living in a homeowners' association, there is room for disputes to arise. If you are at odds with an HOA in Florida, then you should understand your options for resolving an issue and protecting yourself as a homeowner.

Speaking to the HOA

In some cases, resolving a dispute is as simple as having a discussion to clear up miscommunication. Perhaps an argument stems from misinformation or misinterpretation of the regulations. In these situations, bringing the dispute to the attention of the HOA Board or property manager could be sufficient in getting the matter resolved. If the matter is serious, be sure to send your concerns to the board in writing (not just by email), date it, and send in some fashion that ensures its delivery and provides proof of delivery. Keep a record of events and communications. Dates matter.

Mediation or arbitration

In cases where a simple discussion is not going to solve a dispute, options like mediation or arbitration may be effective. Mediation involves two parties working with a neutral mediator to come up with an agreeable solution. Arbitration involves presenting the case to an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) who will make a ruling. Depending on the issue, mediation or arbitration could be required by HOA regulations or state law, as noted in this article.

Filing a lawsuit

If the above options are not effective in resolving a dispute with an HOA, a homeowner may file a lawsuit to take the case to court. Often times, this option is the last resort, as it can be the most expensive option and typically takes longer than the other methods. 

Understand that you do not have to wait until you are ready to file a lawsuit to benefit from legal representation. If you are involved in a dispute with your HOA, then an attorney can help you understand your options at every stage. These disputes can be quite contentious; having legal counsel can help homeowners level the playing field and secure a fair outcome.

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