For homeowner in North Carolina homeowners associations, access to a mediation process, for their HOA-related grievances, recently became much more accessible.
In 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed a law encouraging homeowners associations and aggrieved members to agree to voluntary, non-binding mediation to resolve HOA-related disputes (see our 2013 blog discussing the law here). The law has mostly gathered proverbial dust, and we have not actually seen any owners or HOAs avail themselves of it.
Recently, the North Carolina Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, a group which gathers no dust and is deeply involved with educating homeowners and property managers throughout the state, began offering mediation services through its new CAMP program (CAMP stands for Community Association Mediation Program). In full disclosure, we as a firm are members of CAI-NC, and we strongly believe in its mission, education and advocacy. We are excited that this new program may provide a cost-effective means for working out HOA disputes without the necessity of court proceedings.
CAMP Program Details
The program offers to locate an experienced mediator with significant HOA experience, who is either a professional community manager or an attorney, to preside over an owner-versus-HOA dispute.
The cost for this process is $500.00, which is evenly split between both sides. The fee ensures a minimum, 2-hour mediation, although the parties may engage the mediator for longer time periods, paid by the hour.
Neither party is required to hire an attorney for representation during the mediation, although the parties may be represented by counsel if they wish.
How Parties Enter the CAMP Program
Since mediation is voluntary, both parties must agree to mediation by filling out an online application on the CAMP webpage. Each party must pay its half of the mediation fee at this time.
Upon submitting the required forms and paperwork, a mediator will contact the parties within thirty days. The mediator is permitted to speak with the parties before the mediation commences, and to hold separate meetings or discussions with the parties prior to or during the mediation.
The mediator may also request the parties to provide a written statement summarizing the dispute and to request the parties to submit all documents supporting their claims and the dispute.
All information received by the mediator will remain confidential. The mediator’s role is that of a settlement facilitator; the mediator does not render a decision about which side has the better argument or would win the case if a lawsuit were filed, but assists the parties in reaching a mutual settlement.