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You come home tired and try to get some sleep, but your neighbor’s dog keeps barking. You kindly ask your neighbor to temper their dog, but they refuse. Or sometimes you have a disagreement with your neighbors because of unpleasant odors, illegal or disruptive behaviors, property maintenance issues, or their children’s unruly behavior.
Homeowner association (HOA) dispute arises if you and your neighbor fail to agree on those issues.
Disputes can also occur between homeowners and the HOA Board. In some cases, homeowners fail to get approval for a project. The HOA has the authority to remove the illegal building at the cost of the homeowner. Another example relates to enforcement of the CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions). If homeowners fail to pay their fee on time, the HOA Board can initiate appropriate legal procedures against them.
When a dispute arises between homeowners, each can request an HOA intervention. The HOA Board has a twofold role: it can either act as a decision-maker or a neutral negotiator between disputing homeowners.
On the other hand, in disputes between the HOA Board and homeowners, a neutral third party is called to resolve the matter. Namely, the HOA Board is involved in the conflict, for which reason it cannot maintain fairness and objectivity.
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Each of the mentioned methods is an internal resolution mechanism. If they fail in resolving the dispute, each party can file a lawsuit and initiate litigation.
Litigating HOA disputes is a lengthy, and costly process. In most cases, it can take months to get a court schedule. Besides, attorneys fees, court filing fees, and other administrative expenses make litigation exhausting and financially draining.
For that reason, the Florida law (Statute 720.311) mandates pre-suit mediation in disputes between homeowners and homeowners associations.
Mediating HOA/CONDO disputes is the most effective dispute resolution method between homeowners and the HOA Board.
Unlike adversarial litigation, mediation offers a peaceful and reconciliatory experience
. focusing on common ground between parties. With that foundation, a mediator leads negotiations attempting to bridge obstacles on the path to settlement.
A mediator is a neutral person voluntarily chosen by the parties to facilitate their negotiations. The mediator is a “neutral” party, not a judge or jury. The mediator makes no rulings, gives no advice to either party. The effect of mediation can be a settlement, partial agreement, or no agreement. If the mediation is “impassed” or unsuccessful, the parties can initiate litigation or continue litigation if suit has already been filed. Often, after an impasse, the parties attorneys keep talking and, a few days or weeks later, they get the case resolved to all parties satisfaction.
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Unless the parties agree, nothing shared during mediation can
not be disclosed outside the scope of the mediation. Confidentiality is an inherent trait of this alternative dispute resolution method, contrary to public litigation procedures.
Mediation is far quicker and more affordable than litigation. Without expensive, time-consuming discovery, witness examination, and closing arguments, mediation can bring resolution in weeks or even days AND save the parties a bundle
The process consists of private sessions (caucuses) and joint sessions. In private sessions, the parties share their views regarding the dispute with the mediator. After assessing each position and the possibility of settlement, the mediator holds a joint session where the parties openly discuss all contested issues. The role of the mediator is to stay neutral and facilitate negotiations.
The goal of mediation is exploring the opposite interests and finding the point where those interests converge. From that point, the mediator leads the parties to a settlement.
If they settle, both parties sign an enforceable binding agreement.