Alternatives to Lawsuits for Homeowner Association Disputes

Dealing with homeowner’s association (HOA) disputes can be tough.  People just want to go home and enjoy it and their neighborhoods.  But disputes can arise, and they can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating for all involved.  

Alternative dispute resolution methods can help quickly resolve these kinds of issues.  These include arbitration, mediation and even online dispute resolution. Arbitration is like court but the parties typically select an arbitrator or arbitration panel, and the matter is tried in in private, instead of in a public court.  Mediation is where a neutral third party, again selected by the parties, helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their issues.  Online dispute resolution (ODR) is a small but growing area that can help smaller HOA disputes, like dues. Parties typically submit a single issue to an online platform that facilitates the negotiation process.  

Some advantages to these approaches include:

  • Parties Decide Outcome. Especially with mediation, the outcome is decided by the parties, instead of handed to them by a judge or jury.  Despite advances and experience, litigation outcomes are largely unpredictable, and can lead to unintended consequences. Control is an important hallmark of alternative dispute resolution.
  • Less Delay & Expense. Litigation is time consuming and expensive. Alternative Dispute Resolution methods are often not. And they take less time to complete.
  • Dispute is not Public Record. Typically only settlement agreements are put in writing, proceedings are not a matter of public record, like lawsuits are
  • Cooperation: Most people see solutions to HoA problems as win/win, or win/lose. The mediation process affords the opportunity to explore and fashion solutions that can maximize outcome satisfaction.

So when your neighborhood struggles with that fence, outbuilding or late paid dues, consider whether alternative dispute resolution can resolve the situation, before calling in the “big guns.”

About Chris McGrath

I'm a Carmel, Indiana business attorney providing business counsel, commercial litigation and mediation services based on over 20 years of experience. My firm is founded on a principle of supporting others' advancement and achievement, and my core values are service, passion, faith & loyalty.Chris McGrath's Google+ Profile