Problem Solution

Note from MHA: Never withhold either a fine or your condominium fee even if you think the fine is illegal and/or services are not being provided. There are cases across the country where failure to pay was used to run up legal costs and force homeowners into foreclosure. However, if you have been fined illegally, it is possible you can file a complaint against your Board in Small Claims Court and ask that your money be returned. There are cases where a Board did not follow proper procedures and a judgement against the Board was awarded. Further, some owners have been able to recover fees paid to an attorney when that is what it took to get a Board to act within the law or honor the governing documents. For a link to Maryland Small Claims Court (District Court), see below.

 For Information on Small Claims Court, click on:

Maryland Small Claims Court (District Court)

Mediation:

Mediation is a process in which a trained neutral person, a “mediator,” helps people in a dispute to communicate with one another, to understand each other, and if possible, to reach agreements that satisfy everyone’s needs.  If you do not sign a written agreement in mediation, and you decide to take your dispute to court, neither the mediator nor the participants can testify in court about what happened during the mediation. The mediation process in Maryland is called MACRO and is partially supported by the state resulting in very low fees.

For more information about MACRO (Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office) click on the following link: MACRO

Complaints:

A newly formed Federal Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, wants to hear about financial fraud in HOA and Condominium Associations. Click here for more information.

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If you are concerned that your condominium or homeowner’s association is violating the law, you can file a complaint with the Office of Maryland Attorney General (OAG) by calling the AG Hotline at:

1-410-528-8662

Mon-Fri at 9am to 3pm

Complaint forms can be filed on line or can be downloaded from the OAG website at:

http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm

However, complaints are accepted in letter form.

The OAG attempts to mediate complaints to the satisfaction of both parties. An easy-to-understand publication, The Consumer’s Edge, Issue #132, which explains OAG HOA and Condo homeowner services is available by clicking here, going to the Home section and clicking on Common Ownership Communities (COCs).

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If you live in Prince George’s County, you can contact the Office on Common Ownership Communities. This office offers training sessions, assists during transition periods, offers mediation services and provides needed information.

Call 301-952-4729 or go to the Office of Community Relationsweb site and choose  Common Ownership Communities.  For a direct link, click here.  The e-mail address isCommonOwnershipCommunities@co.pg.md.us.

Prince George’s County also has free mediation services available. Mediation is a neutral process in which participants are able to have a facilitated conversation about their dispute. Mediation can be used in conjunction with an existing court case or in lieu of court.      

For more information, contact the Office of Community Relations at 301-952-4729.

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If you live in Montgomery County and are concerned about arbitrary or illegal actions by your Board, you can contact the Commission on Common Ownership Communities at:

1-240-777-3636

For Commission information, click on the link below:

Commission on Common Ownership Communities

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If you live in Charles County, you can file a complaint with the Charles County Homeowner’s Association Dispute Review Board. The primary purpose of this Board is to help resolve conflicts between property owners and their governing associations. They can be reached at 301-645-0597. The complaint form can be found at http://www.charlescounty.org/

Put homeowner association in the Search box.

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If you live in Howard County, you can file a complaint with the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs if your complaint involves an unfair or deceptive trade practice by your developer. The contact information for this office is:

Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs

6751 Columbia Gateway Drive

Columbia, MD 21046

410-313-6420

http://consumer.howardcountymd.gov

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Federal Fair Housing Laws:

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).  Other practices are prohibited as well. For a complete description of prohibited practices, click above.  For a complaint form that can be filed electronically, click here.