10 tips to reduce HOA legal fees

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These 10 tips could help keep your HOA from overspending on legal fees.

Your homeowners association (HOA) shouldn’t skimp when it comes to protecting itself legally, but there’s no reason to overspend, either. Here are 10 tips that could potentially shave dollars off your legal fees without increasing your HOA’s liability.

  1. Budget. Include legal fees as part of your monthly association budget. That way your board won’t feel pinched when it needs to consult an attorney.
  1. Don’t go DIY. There may be many issues that don’t need an attorney’s assistance, but don’t be tempted to do it yourself when entering into a substantial contract or determining whether your HOA needs to comply with an accommodation request. Contacting an attorney early in the process could cost much less than needing an attorney to help correct any issues later on.
  1. Know your governing documents.  All those quick phone calls and email questions equal billable time—and many could be avoided by simply understanding your HOA’s CC&Rs, rules and regulations.
  1. Set fixed fees. Many attorneys are willing to set fixed fees for phone calls and emails, or set up a retainer system. (But be sure to talk through the pros and cons of a retainer before entering one.)
  1. Be clear on costs and expectations. If your HOA can only afford to pay a certain amount toward a legal issue, let your attorney know this in advance. And be sure you both understand what you will receive from that payment.
  1. Coordinate communications. Attorneys who must respond to several board members about the same issue are doubling-up on their time—and your HOA’s money. Designate one board member as the “go to” person for discussing issues with your attorney.
  1. Negotiate. You may be able to get a discount by agreeing to pay your attorney’s fees within a certain timeframe.
  1. Shop around. Talk to several different firms to understand their costs. But don’t choose a firm solely on cost. Be sure your attorney understands community associations and has the experience to help your HOA.
  1. Create standard forms. There may be instances where your HOA can use one standard form for all future transactions, like a rental agreement. Asking your attorney to create a standard form could help keep future expenses down.
  1. Create procedures. Rather than call your attorney with a recurring question, create a procedure on how to handle the matter. Write down the steps and all pertinent information on how to respond to a frequent issue so your board doesn’t need to place another call to your attorney.

This article contains general information. Individual financial and legal situations are unique; please, consult your financial advisor or attorney before utilizing any of the information contained in this article.

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Source: HOALeader.com; Spectrum Association Management, LP
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