Operating an association to deal with challenges faced by people who live close to each other can make a big difference. There are, however, several legal challenges that come along with forming and running an association. Here are four concerns an association attorney may be able to help you with.
Unincorporated associations do exist, but it is wise to get a formal legal framework in place. This can answer one of the most basic questions: "Who put you in charge?" It also can enhance the chances that an association will be recognized as having legal standing when disputes come up. An incorporated association will have an easier time granting legally recognized membership, too. Banks may also be more receptive to doing business with associations that have incorporated.
Equal Enforcement and Protection
Putting everyone on the same footing is essential in building a healthy association. To this end, restrictions have to be enforced equally. Likewise, protections have to be made available to everyone in the same way. If there are questions about the equality of the provision of the association's resources or the application of its powers, it's best to run those issues past a lawyer.
Having rules is one thing, but making sure people understand those rules can be quite the other. As an association moves forward, board members will change, as will property owners within the association. Institutional knowledge can be lost along the way, and it can be helpful to refresh the understanding of the rules from time to time. An association attorney can sit down with stakeholders and help them understand what the rules are and how they should be applied. Similarly, a lawyer can assist an association in drawing up its rulebook that will be given to all members.
Collection of Fees and Use of Money
Associations take in a respectable amount of money. There should always be a clear set of rules defining who can collect fees and where the money has to go. This reduces the risk that fraud or embezzlement might occur, and it fosters trust in the association.
Along the same lines, money must be accessible for the association to do its job. This may include dealing with maintenance and repair work in common areas. Just as there needs to be accountability when money goes in, there has to be accountability whenever money is spent or withdrawn. Contact an association attorney to learn more.