Community Association Law

We at Nagle & Zaller, P.C. devote the predominant portion of our practice to the representation of condominiums, cooperatives¬†and homeowner’s associations. Based on personal and professional experience, we work with associations and their boards of directors to establish sound organizational and administrative practices, and we endeavor to insure compliance with the association’s governing documents and with applicable local, state and federal law. We provide legal advice regarding assessment collection, rules enforcement, architectural control and other association matters, and we advise and assist associations in standardizing procedures, negotiating contracts, revising governing documents and reviewing insurance coverage. In providing these services, we are sensitive to “people problems” and work with boards to establish procedures we hope will avoid or, if necessary, correct problems both within and without the association. Finally, we provide complete litigation services including trial and defense of cases involving associations, should that become necessary.

As legal counsel to association clients, we are frequently requested to provide other services. For example, it is sometimes prudent for a board to act on the basis of a written legal opinion interpreting the association’s governing documents and applicable law. We are also available to attend board meetings, working sessions and annual or special meetings of the association whenever necessary and with a modicum of notice. This service is provided in the regular course of our representation of community association clients at our special hourly rate, as many boards find it helpful to have the association’s attorney present to assist in developing policies or dealing with immediate problems or fielding legal questions from the owners.

Our normal charges for these services are based on hourly rates for time actually expended,. We do not charge for clerical or secretarial work and all out-of-pocket expenses are billed at actual cost, without a surcharge. Our minimum billing unit is still 1/10 of an hour, and our invoices for legal services rendered provide you with a complete breakdown of all work performed and can be separated into several billing categories, as necessary for your record keeping. It is our policy to have work done for clients by the best qualified person at the lowest billing rate-unless otherwise directed by you.

Until such time as we initiate suit or foreclosure proceedings or a delinquent owner files for bankruptcy protection, we provide complete assessment collection services to the association and do not bill the association for our services. We have determined that it is much easier for all parties concerned if the association and management are not required to track attorney’s fees after an account is turned over to us for legal action. Accordingly, we ask for a complete account history at the time of turnover, and then require the delinquent owner to deal only with us until the account is brought current. All costs, assessments, late charges and interest due the association are returned to the association upon collection and our fees are paid by the owner. We can also provide an accounting as to how monies collected should be applied based upon the original account history supplied by the association or management and including all costs, assessments and charges accumulating after the date of turnover. We insist that each association establish and publish to the owners a detailed assessment collection policy because a written collection policy is crucial for everyone-owners, board members, management and attorneys-to understand the process. We believe such a policy is so important that for associations which do not have such a policy or wish to modify existing policy, we will assist you to do so without charge.

It has been our experience that many of the accounts turned over to us for legal action do not actually go so far as suit, foreclosure or bankruptcy. If, however, a delinquency persists and we are required to file suit or foreclosure proceedings against a delinquent owner or if the owner files a petition for bankruptcy protection, all attorney’s fees accumulated to date will be made a part of those actions and billed to you in the next monthly cycle. All monies then collected as a part of either procedure are returned directly to the association along with the appropriate accounting.

We provide exclusively to our community association clients information regarding significant developments in the law affecting association operations and administration. We do so through special client letters which include an analysis of the practical effect of the developments and any new measures associations may be required to take to comply with the law. Because the governing documents and practices and procedures for each association are unique to that association, the special client letters do not purport to advise any particular client, but should give you information sufficient to determine whether you need to seek specific legal advice.

This information generally describes the services we at Nagle & Zaller, P.C. provide to communities. Associations and their managers should feel free to contact us should you have any questions or should you wish to schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time so that we can better explain the services which we can provide and so that we can learn more about your community. We will be happy to attend such a meeting free of charge.