Important Tips To Hire An HOA Attorney In Texas
A Comprehensive Guide For Texas Homeowners
Do you have a dispute with your homeowners association? Are you looking for options to file or defend a lawsuit? Confused about verbiage in your HOA governing documents or Texas Property Code? Do you need an affordable Texas HOA attorney without mortgaging the rest of your entire life?
While exploring your legal options, be sure to consult with AT LEAST 2 or more HOA attorneys. Even if legal action is not imminent or not your immediate intention, it’s best to be proactive and get clarity BEFORE your HOA disagreement escalates.
Quite frankly, hiring the right Texas HOA attorney can be daunting. It’s not uncommon for attorneys to be dismissive and not take your grievances seriously. Others may accept your case but lack the tenacity to win, are inexperienced, OR are just incompetent. And yet some HOA attorneys demand rates that price out the average homeowner in desperate need of legal assistance.
In order to SAVE YOURSELF THE FRUSTRATIONS & COSTLY MISTAKES homeowners experience with HOA’s & Attorneys…use the following IMPORTANT TIPS to find the best HOA Attorney in Texas for your situation:
- READ and try to get a clear understanding of the Association governing documents and Texas Property Code.
- Research law and previous cases that may apply to your situation.
- Have all documents organized, ready to refer to and submit upon request.
- Regarding your complaints against your HOA, have key questions you want answered and clear/chronological notes.
- To find local HOA attorneys & firms that represent homeowners against HOA’s, Google search, ask for recommendations, research, and check disciplinary histories. (Use the “Find a Lawyer” section to lookup attorney; for disciplinary info older than 10 years, contact the Chief Disciplinary Counsel 877-953-5555.)
- Also check their reviews on top review sites Better Business Bureau and Yelp.
- Contact HOA attorneys & ask if there is a fee for the initial consultation.
- To avoid a conflict of interest, inform the attorneys of ALL parties involved… including each board member, property manager, vendor/contractor, and your HOA’s attorney. Ask the attorneys if they are associated with ANY of the aforementioned.
- Give a brief & clear background of your issue. Try to remain Calm & Concise.
- Answer the attorney’s questions directly. Selectively leaving out pertinent details can cause the attorney to withdraw from your case later.
- Share your preferred course of action, your desired outcome, and reasons why. Also ask for alternative options…the risk/reward of litigating vs settling.
- For larger firms, ask which HOA attorney will lead your case.
- NOT ALL REAL ESTATE ATTORNEYS WILL BE QUALIFIED TO HANDLE YOUR HOA DISPUTE!!!
- Ask what experience the attorneys have with HOA mediation and litigation.
- Have they ever litigated an HOA case similar to yours?
- What was the case number & where can you read about it?
- What was it about… how was it handled… and did they win?
- The HOA attorney should set proper expectations. If considering litigation, they should give a realistic outlook on:
- possible outcomes
- possible/reasonable expectation of how long legal proceedings could last
- potential long-term costs based on evidence, applicable laws, and their experience
- Ask what their turn-around time is for responding to clients’ communications. How do they communicate with their clients and how often about their case?
- Get the specifics on how the attorney bills:
- retainer fee? TYPICAL retainer or upfront fees can range $5k-$10k AND hourly rates $200-$300. Before you balk at attorney fees, please understand the amount of schooling lawyers have to go through and the cost of law school, $84k-$148k, to interpret legalese into layman’s terms. And when working with more experienced or larger law firms, the fees can increase exponentially.
- hourly rate?
- minimum billing increment?
- are statements itemized? how often will they be sent?
- billing rate for emails, phone calls and demand letters?
- additional expenses? (document preparation, court filing fees, etc)
- how are charges outside the agreed upon scope of work applied? (will the attorney obtain your approval before proceeding with additional necessary work?)
- how/when will payment be required?
- Before hiring an attorney to sue your Texas HOA, ask if there could be ANY factors, outside of unforeseeable disruptive events, that would cause them to drop your case PRIOR to the resolution of your HOA dispute.
- If representation is cancelled by attorney or client, what is the process to have any unused retainer fee refunded.
- FOR EACH HOA ATTORNEY YOU INTERVIEW, PAY ATTENTION TO POSITIVE & NEGATIVE VIBES FROM YOUR INTERACTION.
After You Choose A Texas HOA Attorney:
- Ensure ALL terms & conditions discussed are written in the engagement letter.
- After you hire an attorney to represent you, ALL communication to and from your HOA will go through your attorney.
- Strategize…what is your attorney’s plan of action? Ask how you can help with the process.
- REMAIN PROACTIVE IN RESEARCHING FOR YOUR CASE. Your groundwork could tilt the scales in your favor.
- The attorney should provide updates as necessary.
- Respect the attorney’s time. Understand that you are entering into a BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP, not a friendship. Just as any potential lawsuit, HOA litigation can be emotionally draining… if you need an outlet and techniques to cope, please consider getting guidance from a therapist.
- If your case goes to trial, YOUR ATTORNEY SHOULD PREPARE YOU ON…
- What exhibits/evidence will be presented?
- What questions might the opposing side ask?
- What to expect during the courtroom procedures?
- What questions will be directed to the opposing side?
- Your attorney’s previous experience with the presiding judge?
- Have note cards with questions that your attorney will ask the opposing side. During the hearing, slide or chat them to your attorney as needed.
- After your court case has concluded AND/OR you have no further intent of pursuing additional legal action with your HOA attorney, request a non-representation letter or closure letter or disengagement letter, and your complete file to save to your records.
- If there is a break down in communication with your Texas HOA attorney, consider contacting the Client-Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP) to resolve disagreements.
- If you feel your Texas HOA attorney has handled your case inappropriately, go here and read the Texas Attorney Complaint Information brochure, then file a formal grievance.
If you feel your Texas homeowner rights have been abused by your HOA…understand that KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS, taking action steps, and utilizing tools at your disposal can help shield you from further violations…and potentially assist you to victory over your HOA.
BEFORE HIRING A TEXAS HOA ATTORNEY, check out our resource page for options to protect you, your property and HOA community as thoroughly detailed in…
One frequently asked question from homeowners is “Can you refer an HOA attorney?” At this time, we DO NOT refer any particular HOA litigation attorney. The best option we have found for HOA legal matters thus far is *LegalShield. We recommend their legal services for multiple reasons:
- Affordability. For a small monthly subscription, you get upfront unlimited consultations, letters sent and calls made on your behalf to resolve disagreements, plus more. Having the ability to hire an attorney can be the difference between getting justice and getting screwed.
- Practicality. WHY PAY BIG BUCKS FOR SIMPLE DISPUTES? Mediation through an attorney is the best route for MOST homeowners but LegalShield referred attorneys can also help if litigation is demanded for more complicated situations.
- Feasibility. It’s not workable for Love Investors to create attorney relationships in the multitude of judicial districts across the vast state of Texas.
- Efficiency. LegalShield does not litigate but has already built a network of referral attorneys throughout the state.
- Quick Access. Responsiveness plus the opportunity to schedule your first legal consult within 48 business hours after choosing a plan.
- Convenience. LegalShield offers a BROAD range of legal services & is the ONE go-to source for all Texans…wherever you may be, homeowner or not, and for most legal matters. PLEASE also take time to consult with a LegalShield attorney to ensure your estate affairs are in order.
*Although we earn a small commission for subscriptions through our referral link, we believe LegalShield is one of the best solutions for most homeowners. We have always and still suggest you get a 2nd and 3rd legal opinion then make the best decision for YOU.
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