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Alabama Law for You

  • Writer's pictureGregory Stanley

Property Owner Association Trends in 2023 - Part Five

Updated: Apr 21

This is the 5th in a Series of 5 association trends in 2023 for Alabama COA and HOA Group | Facebook.

  1. More HOAs and COAs nationally, but especially in coastal and resort areas

  2. Owners expecting better communication from their boards

  3. Expenses and dues going up

  4. Automation is a Necessity

  5. Disputes on the rise (See Powers of The Board)

 

My Associations isn’t Enforcing the Rules!

  

More people are working from home and staying in their neighborhoods during the day and people are noticing things.  They are noticing things that have always been that way, but now they want it fixed. Immediately.  With more time on their hands, owners may move forward with a renovation, host social events more frequently, or take up an old hobby in the yard. You can see how each one of these things could bring about complaints from neighbors.  Complaints that the police don’t care about, but the neighbors sure do!  Perhaps a neighbor is upset by all the noise caused by the renovation, or thinks a new fence is not allowed, or too high, or for some other reason violates the covenants.  But these complaints may not actually violate the bylaws, and in that case, the association can not do much.

           

People who live in communities governed by associations frequently complain that the board does not follow through on comments and complaints made by the homeowners that they represent.  These comments and complaints refer to grass, furniture, fences, trash, immobile automobiles, and so on.  If your Association doesn’t have a formal complaint process, you can count on them NOT dealing with sticky problems.  Formal, written complaint processes depersonalize the complaint process and make the whole experience better for everyone:  It isn’t about the owner when the complainant is required to write down the rule that is being violated, its about the grass, or trash etc. and the interactions can be much less emotional.

 

The Association is not your mom.

           

Not every complaint about a neighbor is actually a violation, and it is a problem when board members don’t keep this in mind.  Personal disputes and grudges are different than violations, and when a board spends its time trying to mediate interpersonal disputes between owners, the Board has less energy to spend on actual violations.  Associations that are struggling to keep up with complaints can establish a violations committee or hire a property management company if they don’t have one already.  Standardizing and formalizing the complaint process should be done according to the applicable laws, and in Alabama that could mean any of the three main sets of laws for associations. 


Update your formal complaint process to remove personalities and conflict.

       

There are exemplars and template rules and bylaws for formal complaint systems, but having an attorney draft the rules designed for your association can save the association money and time.  Your association attorney can also keep the board informed of changes in the laws and give you advice on how to handle matters as they come up. Associations typically have the responsibility to maintain “everything outside the sheetrock” in condominiums including the common areas of your community, but associations don't have the right to infringe on owners’ freedom, personal life, and enjoyment of their property.

 

Rule of thumb:  If the complaint doesn’t cite the specific rule being violated, the Board should respond that it cannot get involved.


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


(205) 451-4196


[1] Homeowners Associations & Property Owners Associations follow the same laws, Condo Associations have their own laws in Alabama, based on what year they were formed.

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