Sound legal counsel for your homeowner association (HOA) and condo board makes a vast difference in your HOA’s effectiveness, efficiency, and even the enjoyment of living in the community. In an ever-changing environment great community association lawyers lead their clients through complex legal and business issues and protect them from potential legal pitfalls, provide effective methods of adapting to new challenges, and help HOA Boards avoid costly (both financially and reputationally) errors. With such a wide variety of homeowners, condominium, and high-rise condominium associations there is an even greater variety of complex legal issues to navigate. Finding the right HOA lawyer for your community is important to getting the most for your money. RISE Association Management Group has worked with dozens of Houston HOA attorneys and law firms that specialize in community association management. No law firm is perfect for everyone so here we share what we have seen some of these firms do very well for our clients in hopes that it might help you hasten your search for a new lawyer for your HOA. While RISE works with these law firms, as well as many others, we do not have any affiliation with any of them outside of the routine course of day-to-day business..
How Attorneys Help HOA and Condo Boards
Having a good lawyer for your HOA or condo board is an important investment and one that should be considered for both current needs and to future-proof your community. Community association lawyers provide services and expertise beyond that of management companies and are an integral part of your HOA Board of Directors’ advisory group. They provide perspective on things such as:
- Interpretation and advisory input on governing documents – HOAs and condo boards are governed by a complex set of documents, including the declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), bylaws, and rules and regulations. An experienced community association lawyer will guide the board and management to ensure it is acting in accordance with current local and federal laws with its governing documents. Interpreting and enforcing old or outdated documents and understanding how they have been affected by law changes, case law, as well as amendments to the rules and regulations is an esoteric practice that only trained and experienced community association lawyers can navigate effectively.
- Contract drafting and review – community associations frequently enter into contracts with vendors, contractors, and other third parties. While it is typical that management may play a role in this process, it is not a substitute for a legal team’s review and advice which will also help the board draft and negotiate amendments to contracts to ensure that they are fair and protect the interests of the association.
- Compliance consultation – HOAs and condo boards must comply with a variety of federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Industry-specific lawyers like those RISE works with help boards ensure they not only comply with all current laws and regulations, they also stay abreast of changes and how boards should prepare.
- Representation in legal disputes – HOA Boards and condominium associations are frequently targets of litigation. We’ve seen clients through thousands of matters over the decades and those who fare the best have experienced legal counsel who are familiar with the unique defenses and strategies available to HOAs and condominium associations. If your HOA or condo board is involved in a legal dispute that puts everyone in your community at risk. You want a lawyer knowledgeable about HOA rules, property code, litigation defense, and regulations to represent the board in court and protect your interests.
RISE Recommendations for Best Houston Community Association Lawyers
Just like the Farmers Insurance commercial says, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Here at RISE, we believe it’s part of our job to prepare condo boards and HOAs to always be prepared for the unexpected. Condo and HOA rules and regulations issues can get complicated very quickly. These are the firms RISE routinely recommends to keep our clients focused on their job of keeping their communities safe and property values high.
- Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey (RMWBH)– Best in class for litigation defense. They have 100+ attorneys versed in HOA law and many of their attorneys have worked closely to author or amend the very law that governs homeowners’ associations and condominium associations. They’re extremely well versed in the unique defenses available to HOAs and Boards when they’re the target of litigation and have experts of nearly every facet of law your HOA may need. They are frequently also the preferred firm of the HOA insurance carriers which means you do not need to switch attorneys if you’re sued. The firm’s size means you may have different points of contact for different types of matters. This is a consideration should your board prefer to have one person who handles all aspects of your needs. This firm also handles all types of complex litigation, document writing, general counsel, contractor negotiations, training, and more. If your HOA should find itself in need of new counsel we recommend you reach out to Sipra Boyd at RMWBH.
- Holt and Tollett – A good balance between large and small. This firm is generally very flexible and can help you to create customized solutions for your HOA’s specific challenges. You’re more likely to be working with a senior level attorney at this firm. They also have decades of experience and knowledge in HOA matters including deed restriction enforcement, collections and bankruptcy, and general counsel. We have worked with this firm on both single family and condominium associations. Talk to Luke Tollet or Russell Holt.
- Sears Bennett Gerdes – Among the fastest when it comes to collection of assessments. This firm rates high for its effectiveness when it comes to debt collection matters. We generally see them working on the side of condominium associations, however, that is not to say they do not specialize in other kinds of community associations. Talk to Terry
- Winstead PC – Rivals RMWBH in size and depth. They’re known as THE law firm in this industry when it comes to creating a new community association or writing documents however their practice extends to all kinds of HOA and condominium niche practice areas. This firms also handles all types of sophisticated litigation and has successfully handled dozens of matters for RISE clients.Talk to Teddy Holtz.
- Daughtry and Farine– Somewhere in the middle, Daughtry and Farine has found a great balance of flexible problem solving, with great business attorneys, who are effective at finding solutions for clients. They’ve worked successfully with some very complicated matters for top clients. We have worked with this firm on both single family and condominium association matters.
- Lambright and McKee – All around good business lawyers. They know the law and they also have good relationship skills too (a combination that is rare in this line of work). They generally work well with all types of people and know how to get things done without the court system. They are not a big box firm and you’re more likely to work with a senior member of the team. Talk to Casey Lambright or Shaune Farrell.
- Hoover Slovacek – Another firm that has lots of great business lawyers. This firm is also excellent for complicated matters, employment matters, deed restriction enforcement, general counsel, and contract negotiations. We’ve seen them work with very sophisticated clients on complex business matters including very high stakes negotiation which resulted in favorable outcomes for our clients.
This represents Part I of our Best-in-Class HOA Lawyers review. This list is certainly not exhaustive of all the Houston HOA law firms that specialize in the areas of community association law. This list also does not include the many firms who specialize in insurance defense work for homeowners and condominium associations. However, the firms mentioned in this article all practice in the area community association law regularly and you’re certain to find a great variety of expertise at any of these firms. Our experiences with these firms may certainly vary from others however having worked with some of these firms for approaching twenty years we feel confident you’ll see many of the same advantages to working with them.
The Benefits of Having an Experienced Community Association Lawyer
The best defense is not a good offense. Here at RISE, we’ve worked with HOAs and condo boards long enough to know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. No one likes dealing with years of invasive litigation and working with the right attorneys and management can help your HOA stay focused on progress. Having clear governing documents and being consistent in your approach to governance goes a long way to efficient and congenial community management. With a strong HOA and condo board lawyer by your side, it takes a great burden off your shoulders for tasks like these:
- Drafting new rules or amending existing regulations;
- Negotiating a contract with a new vendor;
- Advising the board on its fiduciary duties to the homeowners;
- Helping the board prepare for high stakes meetings;
- Keeping the board up-to-date on changes on regulatory and legal changes pertaining to community associations;
- Representing the board in a lawsuit with a homeowner or vendor;
At RISE, we believe a skilled and experienced community association lawyer is an essential part of the management team. With sound advice and informed legal advice and counsel, a good lawyer can help the board avoid legal problems, protect the interests of the association, and ensure that the association is operating in a fair and legal manner.