Condominium and townhouse associations are common interest communities (CIC) seeking to create a well-maintained and safe place to live. These associations are typically comprised of owners within that community who seek to self-regulate based on a set of governing documents. These documents form the basis of the association’s actions to resolve disputes and hold its members accountable to these governing documents.
Understanding the options for dispute resolution
Its board of directors primarily governs a CIC’s association. Unit owners elect these directors for a specific period. This process assumes that the directors will work to support and attempt to enhance the CIC’s value. Some of these powers may include amending, removing or creating new rules. When an inevitable dispute occurs between the association and a member or group of members, you must understand the many routes to dispute resolution. Here are the options for an association:
Communication: The board of directors must attempt to communicate with the members who have violated their agreements or governing rules. If communicating the issues at hand and the actions needed to resolve the problem are rejected, the board can move to other options.
Alternative dispute resolution: An association has an obligation to avoid litigation whenever it can to resolve disputes amongst unit owners and between unit owners and the association. Mediation may be a suitable alternative to litigation that an association can exercise to form a collaborative discussion with a neutral mediator. A mediator can help to raise concerns fairly and honestly and to encourage open communication.
Arbitration: Though arbitration is a more formal process than mediation, it is still less of an adversarial procedure than litigation. The procedure involves an independent arbitrator tasked with reviewing the parties’ claims and making a decision regarding the dispute. This decision may be non-binding or binding depending on the scenario.
Litigation: When other options fail, litigation may be the only method of receiving a suitable resolution. This process can be drawn-out, costly and may result in damaged interpersonal relationships. The litigation decision is typically binding.
Protecting the interests of an association
Governing an association can be a challenging task. It’s crucial that you understand the options available to preserve an association’s rules with the least amount of conflict possible.