How To Hire An HOA Attorney In Texas
Do you have a dispute with your HOA? 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?
If you’re looking for an attorney to take your HOA case on contingency or pro bono, understand that this is not a common occurrence. Check out this article that gives a great explanation why.
Be sure to explore your legal options by consulting 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 HOA attorney can be daunting. Some attorneys may be very dismissive and not take your grievances seriously. Others may take on your case but lack the tenacity to win, are inexperienced, or are just incompetent. And yet others demand rates that price out the average homeowner in desperate need of legal assistance.
In order to save yourself the frustrations that many homeowners experience with HOA’s, here are some tips on how to hire an HOA attorney in Texas:
- READ and try to get a clear understanding of the Association governing documents and Texas Property Code.
- 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 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.)
- Contact attorney & ask if there is a fee for the initial consultation.
- Advise attorney what other parties are involved to avoid a conflict of interest.
- Give a brief & clear background of your issue. Try to remain Calm & Concise. Share ALL the facts and DO NOT selectively leave out pertinent details.
- Share your preferred course of action, what you want to achieve, and reasons why. Also ask for alternative options…risk/reward of litigating vs settling.
- The attorney should set proper expectations. If litigation is the chosen or only route, they should give a realistic outlook on possible outcomes, time needed, and potential costs incurred based on evidence, applicable laws, and their experience.
- Ask what experience they have with HOA disputes. Have they ever litigated an HOA case similar to yours? What was the case number and where can you read about it… how was it handled, what was it about, and did they win?
- For larger firms, ask who will be handling your case.
- Ask for hourly rate, retainer fees, and additional expenses (document preparation, court filing fees, etc). How do they bill? Minimum billing increment? Are statements itemized? How/when will you need to pay? If there are any charges outside of the agreed upon fees or scope of work, do they get your approval to proceed before adding it to your bill? 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.
- 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? Is there a charge for every email, phone call, letter? If so, how much is the fee?
- PAY ATTENTION TO POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE VIBES FROM YOUR INTERACTION.
After you decide on an HOA attorney:
- Make certain 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 the attorney’s plan of action? Ask how you can help with the process.
- REMAIN PROACTIVE IN RESEARCHING FOR YOUR DISPUTE. Your groundwork may 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. What questions might the opposing side ask? What questions will be directed to the opposing side? What exhibits/evidence will be presented? Etc…
- 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 is complete AND you have no further intent of pursuing additional legal action with your current attorney, ask for your complete file to save to your records.
- If there is a break down in communication with your attorney, consider contacting the Client-Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP) to resolve disagreements.
- If you feel your attorney has handled your case inappropriately, go here and read the Texas Attorney Complaint Information brochure, then file a formal grievance.
One frequently asked question from homeowners is “Can you refer an HOA attorney?” At this time, we DO NOT refer any particular HOA attorney. The best option we’ve found for HOA legal matters thus far is *LegalShield. We recommend their legal services for several 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 have reliable & competent attorney contacts in the multitude of judicial districts across the vast state Texas.
- Efficiency. LegalShield has already built an EXTENSIVE network of attorneys throughout the state.
- Quick Access. Responsiveness plus the opportunity to have your first legal consult within 24-48 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 opinion then make the best decision for YOU.