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Alabama Law for You

  • Writer's pictureGregory Stanley

Are HOA Dues Enforceable?

Updated: Apr 21

“Dunning Krueger told me that association dues are always enforceable!”


Assessments May Not be Enforceable Without Notice

Recently in Jefferson County District Court the court ruled that a lien against a condo for assessments by the condo association was unlawful, and the ~$7000 of assessments were not enforceable.  This is because the association did not follow requisite corporate formalities for meetings, motions, minutes, elections, notices, and published budgets. (By the way, dues are also called “assessments,” and “POAs are HOAs, but POAs are not COAs.”)


“It's the Law!” works both ways

Dunning Krueger told me that association assessments are enforceable by law no matter what, because the association documents are recorded with the deeds at the county probate office. That is true, that is what the law says…it is also true that the association must comply with those documents as well as other applicable state law for any actions to be effective, including assessing costs to owners.  Think of the CC&Rs as the Constitution.  Think of the Bylaws as Laws.  Think of association policies and procedures as how the cops enforce those laws.  If enforcement violates the laws or the laws violate the Constitution, then the courts will not enforce the laws. 

A simple way to look at this is: Unless the association or its board has signed, dated  minutes showing the name of the board member that made the motion to adopt the annual budget, that the president (or chair) called for a vote, and the motion passed, and that the approved budget was properly delivered to each owner in the association with an accounting showing how much each owner was to pay, then the assessment probably isn’t enforceable against anyone. 


COAs and HOAs have very different laws

Board members sometimes refer to their organization as a COA or as an HOA, but it cannot be both.  Certain laws apply to HOAs and other laws apply to COAs.  There are even different laws if the association was formed before 2016.  COA/HOA laws and compliance is a special field in Real estate, and unless the board president is an attorney practicing in that area, she probably needs counsel on retainer.  Retained counsel will usually provide free board member training including how to run a lawful meeting and provide templates for required policies on rule enforcement, collections and more.  If you board attorney doesn’t have these, think again.


Rule of thumb: your association's rules are probably enforceable if your board follows Robert’s Rules of Order, and the documents that must be made available by every owners’ association in Alabama are online.

Always use a reputable Alabama Lawyer when you are dealing with real property, whether it has an association or not.


(205) 451-4196

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