by Dorian MacDougall
…a homeowner has no law to protect them from unscrupulous boards, management companies, and association lawyers. My grandfather protection under US common law was not valid in a private corporate government. You can’t seek arbitration, and you can’t get help from the attorney general of your state. You gave that up when you signed the CC&Rs; didn’t they tell you that?
This area of law has developed into a cottage industry of lawyers who feed off liens, fines, and fees. Along with the management companies, HOA attorneys can increase profits by encouraging conflicts within a community. Covenant litigation has become a profitable legal specialization. The attorney who advises the board on whether to sue a homeowner will often be the same attorney who will handle the litigation (sound familiar?). The conflict of interest could not be more pronounced.
Even with comparatively minor disagreements between HOA boards and homeowners, an attorney will charge anywhere from $50.00 to $500.00 for violation notices (threats to sue) sent to homeowners. The profit incentive is clear – more trouble = more profit. [it is unknown exactly how many years ago this was written so I am sure attorney’s fees are much higher today, especially in Northern Virginia.]