Fighting a special assessment typically involves understanding the assessment, reviewing the governing documents of your community or property, and taking appropriate steps to dispute the assessment if you believe it is unfair or unjustified. Here’s a general guide on how you might approach this situation:
Understand the Special Assessment:
- Review the Details: Carefully examine the details of the special assessment. Understand why it’s being levied, how the amount was determined, and the purpose for which the funds will be used.
Review Governing Documents:
- Association Bylaws and Covenants: Examine the association bylaws, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), and any other governing documents. These documents often outline the procedures for levying special assessments and may include dispute resolution mechanisms.
Attend Association Meetings:
- Participate in Meetings: Attend association meetings where the special assessment is discussed. This is an opportunity to voice your concerns, ask questions, and understand the rationale behind the assessment.
- Research Comparable Assessments: Gather information about similar special assessments in comparable communities. This can help you assess whether the amount being levied is reasonable and in line with industry standards.
Engage in Dialogue:
- Communicate with the Board: Engage in open and respectful communication with the association board. Seek clarification on any aspects of the special assessment that you find unclear or unfair.
Form a Homeowners Committee:
- Collaborate with Neighbors: If there is widespread dissatisfaction, consider forming a committee with other homeowners who share your concerns. A unified approach may carry more weight when addressing the association.
Alternative Funding Solutions:
- Propose Alternatives: If you have identified alternative funding solutions or sources, present them to the association. Sometimes, boards are open to considering different options if presented with viable alternatives.
Consider Legal Advice:
- Consult an Attorney: If the special assessment appears to be unjust or if the association is not responsive to your concerns, consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate or community association law. They can provide advice on your legal rights and potential courses of action.
- Keep Records: Maintain detailed records of all communications, meetings attended, and any evidence supporting your position. This documentation may be valuable if legal action becomes necessary.
Vote or Appeal:
- Participate in the Voting Process: If the special assessment requires homeowner approval, actively participate in the voting process. If the assessment is already approved, check if there is an appeals process outlined in the governing documents.
Consider Mediation or Arbitration:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: Some governing documents may have provisions for mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes. This can be a less adversarial way to address issues compared to legal action.
- Last Resort: If all else fails, and you believe the special assessment is unlawful or unfairly implemented, you may need to consider legal action. Consult with an attorney to explore your options.
Always remember to approach the situation with a cooperative and solution-oriented mindset. Disputes within community associations can be complex, and finding an amicable resolution is often in the best interest of all parties involved.