Legal assistance for condominium and homeowners associations.
Do you need assistance forming or governing a condominium or homeowners association, addressing unpaid assessments or covenant violations? At Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC, we have experience with a wide range of community association issues and can assist you with your condominium and homeowners association questions. Our mission is to provide efficient and cost effective services to all of our clients.
From inception through operations and termination, the real estate law group of Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC work with condominium and homeowners associations. Our Baltimore based real estate lawyers have considerable experience providing comprehensive and creative real estate law services to developers, builders, property managers, and condominium and homeowners associations and their boards of directors concerning the governance of their communities.
What is a community association?
Homeowners associations, popularly known as HOAs, and condominium associations, are governing community bodies. While most prevalent in condominium and planned communities, some other neighborhoods may be governed by these bodies.
It’s important to understand that these governing bodies are legally recognized to take actions on behalf of the community. They manage issues affecting the entire community, such as safety and security, lack of property maintenance, local nuisances or the provision of services not taken care of by the local government. Most of these governing bodies have an elected board of directors who act while overseeing the community.
How to form a condominium association or homeowners association.
The core focus of the Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC’s Maryland real estate practice is the creation and formation of new condominium and homeowners association communities, which are generally formed by developers when a new community is developed and constructed. Accordingly, our condominium and homeowners association lawyers represent builders and real estate developers working on new residential communities, as well as commercial and mixed-use properties. Ensuring that a new community follows all state guidelines in regards to property and real estate law is a difficult task for the layperson. If you are interested in forming a homeowners association or condominium association, it is essential that you work with a qualified real estate attorney. At Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC we have experience assisting new associations and will be happy to guide you through this sometimes daunting process.
The process for establishing an HOA or condominium association depends on where it is located, but the following steps will probably be required:
- Establishing a business structure by forming an LLC or nonprofit corporation.
- Creating covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that describe how the association will operate and what rules govern the owners.
- Establishing a procedure for future modification of the CC&Rs.
- Writing rules and regulations that put the CC&Rs into easy-to-understand language for the owners.
- Drafting governing documents, such as articles of incorporation and bylaws (which outline meeting frequency, voting guidelines, election of association leaders and other operating procedures).
- Electing qualified officers/board members (the treasurer actually needs to understand how to keep books and manage money, for example).
In addition, when forming a residential condominium association, a public offering statement that is approved by the State of Maryland is required.
Avoid costly delays. Work with an experienced real estate lawyer.
If those involved with creating a homeowners association or condominium association are not well versed and experienced, there can be delays and substantial costs involved, including unenforceability of the various covenants as well as title claims. An effective condominium or homeowners association attorney can also point out key issues to the associations which are important, to avoid legal problems once the association is active. Our attorneys can offer advice on the interplay between between federal, state, and local government laws and regulations and the community’s governing documents.
Representing and protecting existing homeowners association communities.
We routinely support our clients with document interpretation, amendment of governing documents, the collection of assessments, covenant and rule enforcement, architectural control issues, and negotiation of contracts. Condominium and homeowners associations need revenue to function, and that money comes from the community’s residents, which is why the community association attorneys at Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC specialize in real estate collections.
Our Maryland real estate firm provides the necessary legal support for HOA to conduct daily business, including:
- Contract and document amendments.
- Drafting opinion letters for HOA board of directors.
- Attending HOA meetings to manage operational and governance procedures.
- Negotiating contracts with services providers (i.e. snow removal and landscaping).
Winegrad, Hess & Heimlicher, LLC understands that communities are on a budget and that legal fees are paid by the owners. Our efficient and creative solutions to everyday problems keep costs under control. Whenever possible, we seek alternatives to litigation, such as mediation and arbitration, but if traditional court litigation is unavoidable, we aggressively use all pre-trial, trial, and appellate tools and proceedings to achieve our clients’ objectives. Our real estate attorneys fairly assess each matter and advise our clients of the risks and costs of litigation or other potential resolutions. If a favorable settlement is an option, our attorneys skillfully pursue that resolution as well. When collecting assessments, we provide our clients with all the options available to them, including pursuing traditional litigation or collection through the Maryland Contract Lien Act.