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Attorney Douglas MacNeille has been representing both homeowners associations and property owners in a broad range of HOA matters since 1984.
homeowner association
PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENTS
COVENANTS & BYLAWS
CONDOMINIUM & TIMESHARE LAW
COVENANT & RULE ENFORCEMENT
COLLECTION OF DUES
Representing Strong Communities in Beaufort County
From offices on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Ruth & MacNeille, P.A. proudly protects homeowners associations (HOA) and the individuals who govern and manage them. In the Beaufort County area, we help new developments become great communities based on extensive experience in seeing HOA's through the difficult transition from developer control.
Whether you are a member of a board of directors of an HOA, or are responsible for its management, our attorneys can help ensure your community is efficient and well managed.
What is an HOA? Or POA?
A Homeowner's Association (HOA) or Property Owners Association (POA) is comprised of two or more homeowners that belong to a mandatory membership organization for the maintenance of commonly owned real estate and improvements and regulations of privately owned property in a given area. New community developments are often required to form a nonprofit corporation charged with maintaining common areas within the development. These are commonly called homeowners or community associations. HOAs typically are responsible for managing community finances and their board's direction, and enforcing the guidelines in their covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). Collecting unpaid assessments, enforcing the association's governing documents, handling disputes and dealing with contractors are just a few of the issues HOAs face daily.
What are Association Bylaws?
The Bylaws are the guidelines for the operation of the Homeowner's Association. The bylaws define the duties of the various offices of the Board of Directors, the terms of the Directors, the membership's voting rights, required meetings and notices of meetings, and the principal office of the association, as well as other specific items that are necessary to run the homeowner's association as a business. The bylaws for the association may be viewed online within the Documents page of this site.
Can a Homeowner's Association require assessment fees?
Homeowner's Associations can, and often do, assess mandatory fees for common property (roads, recreational amenities, maintenance of common property, and setting up reserves to assure the availability of funds required to sustain the common property).
Can the Homeowner's Association obtain a lien on a homeowner's property for failure to pay their homeowners assessment?
Under South Carolina law, a homeowner's association can place a lien upon an owner's property for failure to pay assessments, and may foreclose upon that lien if the owner still refuses to pay past homeowners assessments. A lien may also be placed on the property for failure to pay fines properly imposed upon the owner; however the foreclosure process for foreclosing upon a lien for fines is more complicated and cumbersome. A lien is an encumbrance on the owner's property and remains so until the property is sold, when the lien must be paid.
What are Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions?
Commonly called CC&R's the term usually refers to a written recorded declaration which sets forth certain covenants, conditions, restrictions, rules or regulations established by a Homeowner's Association to create uniformity of buildings and use within tracts of land or groups of lots.  CC& R's also define and establish various rights of the Association and the owners concerning the common property.
What can a Homeowner's Association regulate?
Homeowner's Association rules and regulations can regulate many different things in the homeowner's area such as:
  • Basketball hoops
  • House design sheds
  • Pets
  • Clotheslines, lawns, shingles
  • Exterior paint, mailboxes, swing sets, fences
  • Garages, outdoor lights, TV antennas
  • Garbage cans, views, window coverings
Why retain legal counsel?
Serving on your HOA board of directors, no matter how committed and accomplished you may be, can be time consuming, complicated and exasperating - because you are dealing with peoples' homes, and the devil is always in the details of the rules. Legal assistance can save your HOA money and many communal (and personal) headaches by improving efficiency and addressing situations before they escalate into expensive problems. This is commonly accomplished by the development of effective rules & regulations and, in some cases, Security Regulations.
As your legal counsel, Ruth & MacNeille, P.A. attorneys can help you to better understand the HOA laws, assist in resolving disputes and provide other services including:
  • Development and enforcement of articles of incorporation, bylaws, CC&Rs and other governing documents
  • Counseling on interpretation of governing documents
  • Notification of CC&R violations and application of penalties
  • Collecting delinquent assessments
  • Processing approval of individual home exterior modifications to ensure cohesiveness of community appearance
  • Construction defect litigation
In fact, our collections efforts for recovery of past due assessments from delinquent owners has yielded outstanding results.
Condominium Law
Condominium law governs and regulates the functioning of these types of units and their boards and associations. Associations, also called Regimes, as provided by the master deed are responsible for the management and administration of condominiums and condominium property in South Carolina, which includes the activities that are of common interest to the owners of the units. Our firm represents condo associations and boards of directors in handling any type of legal matter concerning them, from general representation to the transition from the developer to the managing of associations, to disputes and lawsuits involving unpaid maintenance fees, faulty construction, hazardous conditions, tax appeals, and other issues.
Our South Carolina Condominium Law attorney will meet with you to discuss your particular legal matter involving your condominium, review your situation, and advise you on what legal options you may have to resolve the matter. Our firm is knowledgeable in condominium law and has experience handling civil litigation with such matters.
Timeshare Law
A timeshare is a type of ownership or right to use a property, such as a resort condominium unit in which many owners hold the rights to use it, generally being allotted an agreed-upon time period every year.  Several types of timeshares exist, including deeded and right to use contracts. Deeded contracts are sold as fractional ownerships of real property. Such owners are responsible for their portion of real estate taxes, generally collected as part of their association maintenance fees. Right-to-use contracts allow purchasers to use the property according to the terms of their contract until the contract expires, at which point these rights revert back to the property owner. Timeshares may be sold as fixed weeks, floating weeks, or rotating weeks. As in any real estate transaction, specific laws and regulations govern timeshare transactions and matters, which is why it is important to consult with a reliable attorney in any aspect of the timeshare business.