Can a Homeowner Sue Their HOA?
Oct. 18, 2023
In Tennessee, individuals who own homes within the same community may come together to form a homeowner's association (HOA). Generally, the HOA will be responsible for establishing and enforcing rules, maintaining common areas, collecting dues, supervising repairs, and managing funds. In addition, the HOA board members must act in good faith and protect the community and their members.
However, disagreements often occur between the HOA and its members. Such disputes may be due to maintenance delays, breach of fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, or misappropriation of HOA funds. In such situations, the aggrieved homeowner may be entitled to take legal action against the HOA or its board members.
At McCarter | East PLLC, we're dedicated to offering experienced legal counsel and reliable advocacy to clients in their HOA disputes and litigation matters. Our practiced Tennessee real estate attorneys can investigate every aspect of your unique situation, determine if you have a case, and explore your available legal options to seek relief. We're proud to serve clients across Middle Tennessee, with offices located in Murfreesboro, Manchester, and Woodbury.
Common Grievances Homeowners Have With Their HOA
The most common HOA disputes and complaints include:
Noise from neighbors' houses
Disregarding pet policies
Misappropriation of HOA funds
Excessive barking from pets
Children causing physical damage to properties
Children are excessively noisy or disruptive
Offensive flags or signs
Health code violations
Strong or unpleasant odors
Property maintenance issues
If you're involved in a HOA dispute, you should get in touch with an experienced real estate attorney immediately. Your legal counsel can enlighten you about the responsibilities of an HOA and determine whether you have a case.
Rights and Obligations of an HOA
If you purchase a home within a community governed by an HOA, you will become a member of the homeowners association. Here are some of the duties, rights, and responsibilities of an HOA:
Establish and approve bylaws, covenants, rules, and regulations.
Hold meetings for the board of directors and association members.
Appoint committees and assign tasks to board members.
Conduct routine home inspections.
Organize adequate maintenance and prompt repairs.
Review complaints and address the different concerns of residents and homeowners.
Enforce fees, penalties, and fines against residents and homeowners who violate the rules or bylaws.
Maintain common areas such as green spaces, community buildings, amenities, parks, and other facilities.
Maintain reserve funds for emergency needs and future community projects.
In most cases, the rights and obligations of the homeowners' association are often outlined in their governing documents.
Governing Documents of an HOA
Here are some of the basic governing documents of the HOA:
Articles of Incorporation
The articles of incorporation contain the basic information about the association, including its name, location, and purpose.
The HOA Declaration is the legal and physical description of the entire planned community. It describes the number of individual units within the community, including condos and family homes.
Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)
The CC&Rs outline the rules and regulations governing the use and maintenance of real property and homes within the homeowners association (HOA) or a planned community. The document will indicate the general structure, land area, each member's responsibilities, and more.
The bylaws outline how the association is operated, voting rights and procedures, rules for meetings, rights and responsibilities of the HOA, budgeting procedures, how elections are organized, and the terms for board members.
Rules and Regulations
The Rules and Regulations is a separate document that contains a more detailed explanation of the rules and regulations that association members, including homeowners and residents, must follow.
Taking Legal Action
However, it is often common for disputes to occur between homeowners and the HOA. Here are some possible legal options that you may pursue if the HOA acted improperly:
Breach of Covenant
The CC&Rs rules and regulations of the HOA are legally binding for members of the association. Should the HOA board members fail to obey the CC&Rs rules and regulations, you may take legal action for breach of covenant.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Each HOA board member owes the duty of loyalty, the duty of care, and the duty to act within the scope of authority. If the HOA board members acted unfairly or in bad faith, you may sue them for breach of fiduciary duty.
Lastly, you can sue the HOA for negligence for actions such as discriminatory behavior, maintenance delays, failure to repair, financial misappropriation, and violating noise and pet policies.
Seek Trusted Legal Guidance Today
If you believe that your homeowners association has acted improperly or violated your rights, you're entitled to file a lawsuit and seek relief. Contact us at McCarter | East PLLC today to schedule a simple case evaluation with reliable real estate lawyers. Our dedicated legal team can offer you the trusted guidance and personalized representation you need in your case. We proudly serve clients throughout Middle Tennessee with offices located in Murfreesboro, Manchester, and Woodbury