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"Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way," Community Association Attorneys Told

11/17/1998  -  Alexandria, VA

It's time for lawyers to lead the effort to eliminate the prevailing "command and control" mentality in condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations, noted Atlanta attorney Wayne S. Hyatt told attendees at the Community Associations Institute 45th National Conference in Arlington, Va. Calling for a halt to "business as usual" in the nation's 205,000 community associations, Hyatt said attorneys must work toward a new model for governance that puts the "community" back in community associations.

"We must move from a legalistic concentration on managing people and property to building and sustaining community using new systems that empower rather than impose," Hyatt said. "The costs of conflict, apathy and litigation are far too high."

Hyatt's solutions for refocusing community association governance include:

  • Provisions in governing documents to permit adoption, modification or abrogation of rules through a community legislative process;
  • Standards of conduct, maintenance and design that establish ranges of expected activity without being overly restrictive or disruptive of individual choice;
  • A "bill of rights" for owners guaranteeing a hearing and appeals process;
  • Creation of a youth board and community council led by a community extension agent or ombudsman to build community spirit;
  • Flexibility to provide additional services, such as social services, learning centers and maintenance as the need arises;
  • Encouragement of renter involvement in association governance;
  • Establishment of non-profit foundations and trusts for charitable activities, community outreach, environmental preservation and education; and
  • Education and training for homeowners and board members.

Hyatt is a partner in the law firm of Hyatt & Stubblefield, Atlanta. His previous works include Condominium and Homeowner Association Practice: Community Association Law and "Common Interest Communities: Evolution and Reinvention," published in the John Marshall Law Review.

The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.


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