MEDIATION–ANOTHER WAY TO SOLVE HOA DISPUTES
Whether it is dispute between homeowners, a homeowner against the HOA or between two HOAs, mediation can create win-win resolutions. A mediator does not decide the issue but, working separately with each party and then with both parties together, the mediator helps them craft a solution that everyone can live with. Neither side will probably get everything it wants, unless one party is way off the mark.
The Council has court trained mediators who are familiar with HOA issues, and know how to read the CC&Rs and Architectural Guidelines/Rules and other pertinent documents. We do several mediations every year and have a high success rate. The mediator will come prepared as he/she will ask for the documents in advance and will also be prepared to spend considerable time trying to reach resolution between the parties. There is a modest charge for the mediation service–$25 per side. We used to provide this service free for between homeowner issues but found that if each side had some skin in the name they worked harder to reach resolution. Our mediators apply the correct HOA rules but also deal with the emotions involved, which often run high, and apply common sense. If resolution is not reached, the mediator can ask to file a recommendation with the Board of Directors which then can follow the mediator’s recommendation or reach its own binding resolution of the issue.
There is a growing trend for HOAs to build into its by-laws or CC&Rs a resolution process which begins with the parties trying to resolve the issue themselves, then requiring mediation with the mediator required to file a recommendation with the Board if the mediation fails, and finally Board resolution.
Mediation is inexpensive, prevents any party from thinking they are being ganged up on or being disfavored for personal issues since the mediator is a neutral third party outside the HOA realm of close friendships and shared history, and results in resolution more often. If your HOA needs help on an issue, call us. Our mediators will do their best to provide a process that both resolves the problem and leaves both sides of the issue feeling heard and satisfied.
Original in the Green Valley News – June 13, 2018, page B11.