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How to Write a Demand Letter to an HOA (Free Template)

Claudia Diaz - HOA - February 26, 2024

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    Do you currently have a dispute against an HOA about property maintenance, fees, or rules? Before rushing to take legal action, consider sending a demand letter to the HOA first. In this article, we will discuss why sending a demand letter before taking legal action is important, provide a sample demand letter, and discuss the next steps after sending a demand letter. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to an HOA? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Common Reasons to Send a Demand Letter to an HOA

    Here are some common reasons you may want to send a demand letter to an HOA:

    • Property damage. For example, if a gate at the HOA malfunctions and damages your car.

    • Dispute over improperly assessed fees or fines. For example, the HOA fined you even though you didn’t violate any provisions in the CC&Rs (which stand for Covenants, Conditions, and Regulations).

    • Illegal or wrongful towing. For example, if an HOA did not provide a sign with the towing company information and towed your car even though you were not illegally parked. 

    • Breach of contract. For example, the CC&Rs state the HOA will pay for all plumbing repairs. You hire a plumber to fix a leak, and the HOA refuses to pay the plumbing bill.

    • Election disputes. For example, the board elects a new member to the HOA without following proper election procedures as per the HOA bylaws.

    • Disputes over disruptive neighbors. For example, your neighbor keeps making excessive noise on weekday nights, and the HOA has done nothing to resolve the problem. 

    Why is Sending a Demand Letter Important? 

    When you send a demand letter to an HOA, you are taking a proactive step to address your concerns and attempt to resolve the issue outside of court.

    Here are at least four reasons why you should consider sending a demand letter before taking legal action against an HOA:

    1. Depending on the state you are filing a lawsuit in, you may be required to demand payment from the HOA before filing. For example, in California, small claims court demanding payment is a requirement. By sending a demand letter to the HOA, you are fulfilling this requirement.  

    2. The HOA bylaws may require you to send notice to an HOA before taking legal action. This is why you should also consider checking the HOA bylaws or CC&Rs before filing a lawsuit against an HOA.

    3. A demand letter signals to the HOA that you are serious about resolving the dispute and that you are willing to take action.

    4. Sending a written demand letter assures you there is a record of your good-faith attempt to settle. So while some demands can be made orally, we recommend making any demands in writing. Writing a letter can sometimes be very effective as it is a more formal way of making a demand. 

    Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Write a Demand Letter to an HOA?

    There is no formal requirement that states you need a lawyer to write your HOA demand letter. You can do it on your own.

    However, you may want to consider the following factors when deciding to hire a lawyer to write a demand letter: 

    • Cost. One of the first things you should consider is the cost of hiring a lawyer to write a demand letter. 

    • The complexity of your case. You may be dealing with a serious issue like housing discrimination by the HOA. If this is the case, it may be worth discussing potential claims you have against an HOA with an HOA lawyer that deals with these types of lawsuits

    Learn about the pros and cons of using an attorney to write a demand letter

    What to Include in Your Demand Letter 

    Below are suggestions on important elements to include in your letter: 

    • Make sure to include background facts describing the issue at hand. For example, the HOA improperly fined you. Explain what the fine was for, how much the fine was, and why it was improper.  

    • State your demand in a professional and concise manner. Make sure you keep a professional tone throughout the letter. Remember you are asking the HOA to pay or take some type of action to resolve the problem. You don’t want to jeopardize resolving the dispute by using argumentative language. 

    • Reference any bylaws, CC&Rs, or state/federal laws you are relying on. For example, a neighboring unit causes damage to your property. State in your demand letter that, as per the CC&Rs, the HOA is responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations of the community, and they have failed to do this.

    • Include a deadline and intent to sue language. You may want to consider giving the HOA 14 days to respond to you and state that if they do not respond within that time, you intend to sue them. 

    Once you have sent your demand letter, keep it in your records. In the event you do end up filing a small claims lawsuit, you can bring it to the hearing and show it to the judge. This is especially handy if the HOA claims they didn’t know you wanted your property back. 

    Sample Demand Letter to an HOA

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to an HOA? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Below is a sample demand letter. This sample demand letter pertains to a complaint about a neighbor, addressed to an HOA. When using this sample, make sure to include facts that relate directly to your situation

    [Your Name]

    [Your Address]

    [Date]

    [HOA Name]

    [HOA Address]

    RE: [Subject of your demand letter] 

    Dear [HOA Name], 

    I am contacting you to demand action be taken to resolve my complaint. I am attempting to resolve this out of court, but if we cannot come to an agreement, I intend to sue. 

    Here is a statement of my case that I intend to submit to the court:  

    I live in [your address], and my neighbor, [neighbor’s name], who resides at [neighbor’s address], has [discuss the situation in more detail]. As per the rules of the association, it is up to the HOA to enforce the community’s rules and regulations. By not taking action, the HOA is breaching this obligation. This is why I am now requesting that [insert your demands].  

    I look forward to resolving this matter amicably, and I am amenable to discussing mediation. You may contact me at [your email] if you would like to discuss this matter further. Please deliver payment to the address listed above. 

    If I do not hear from you by [14 days from now], you leave me no alternative but to file a lawsuit against you. In the event of a lawsuit, I intend to seek redress to the fullest extent permitted by law, including, but not limited to, additional damages, legal services costs, court costs, and accrued interest. 

    Sincerely,

    _____________________________

    [Your signature]

    How to Send a Demand Letter to an HOA

    The most common way people send their demand letter is via email or mail. However, you can also hand deliver the letter if you wish. 


    For letters that you mail, consider sending your letter with tracking information so that you know when it has been delivered.

    Next Steps After Sending a Demand Letter  

    Unfortunately, not many people know that small claims court is a great option for people who are trying to resolve disputes without the need for an attorney or where hiring an attorney doesn’t make sense. Usually, disputes that fall within the small claims limit your case may not be worth it for a lawyer. That is why small claims courts were designed to provide an affordable and efficient way for people to resolve various types of disputes in an informal setting.

    If after your attorney sends a demand letter, you don’t receive a response, consider suing an HOA in small claims court on your own. 

    Here are some quick facts about small claims court: 

    Common types of small claims lawsuits filed against HOAs 

    Breach of contract

    Property damage

    Illegal towing or wrongful towing

    Disputes over fines and assessment fees

    Election disputes

    Negligence 

    How much can I sue for in small claims court? 

    The amount you can sue for in small claims court is known as the small claims limit. This amount varies by state and even by court but is usually around $10,000

    If you want to sue for more than the small claims limit, you will have to waive whatever amount is over the limit or consider suing in a regular court (however, this is going to be more expensive). 

    How long do you have to sue in small claims court? 

    States have set deadlines, called statutes of limitations, that let you know by when you should sue an HOA. 

    These deadlines will vary by state and by type of claim. For example, if you are suing for breach of contract, you will want to check the breach of contract statute of limitations in your state.

    How much does it cost to sue in small claims court? 

    States have made filing in small claims court accessible. 

    Most small claims court charge between $10-$75 to file a lawsuit. 

    Some small claims courts also offer court fee waivers, which means if you apply, you could pay $0 to file and serve your lawsuit. 

    Who can represent you in small claims court? 

    Small claims courts were intended to allow individuals to file, and represent themselves without the need for a lawyer

    Some small claims courts, like California small claims, don’t even allow lawyers to represent individuals at the initial small claims hearing. 

    * Make sure the HOA is the right entity to sue for your issue. We often see clients get confused about who they need to sue for their claims. Check out our guides on suing landlords, and property managers to see what types of lawsuits are filed against them. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to an HOA? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Author

    Claudia Diaz

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Claudia holds a J.D. degree and is a certified mediator in New York and Florida. She has participated in dozens of small claims mediations in New York City courts.

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