Often, our topic choices for our Beginner’s Guide series are pulled from questions we receive at the reference desk and via our Ask a Librarian service. The topic for this Beginner’s Guide, the law regarding homeowner’s associations, is no exception to the rule, as we have fielded questions about this area of law for many years. It can sometimes be tricky to offer reference guidance in this area, however, because the law is largely state-specific (and thus, dependent on state and local laws), and can also be known by a variety of names, including homeowners’ associations law, condominium associations law, cooperative (or co-op) associations law, and common interest realty associations (or CIRAs) law. While each of these terms refers to a different kind of group, the basic idea underlying them is that of a common-interest community, which is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as a “real-estate development in which individually owned lots or units are burdened with private land-use restrictions administered by a homeowners’ association, as in a housing tract or condominium project.”
First, as with most of our guides, we strongly suggest that beginners in this area of the law start their research with a secondary source. Secondary sources not only summarize and analyze the law, allowing researchers to get their footing in an unfamiliar area, but also point researchers to the statutes, regulations, ordinances, and case law, among other primary sources, that they can use to build their cases. Some books in the Library of Congress’s collection that may be of help include:
- Guide to Homeowners’ Associations and Other Common Interest Realty Associations
- Community Association Law: Cases and Materials on Common Interest Communities, by Wayne S. Hyatt & Susan F. French
- Condos and Co-ops, by Tim Meline
- Condominium and Homeowner Association Practice: Community Association Law, by Wayne S. Hyatt
- Homeowners Association and You: The Ultimate Guide to Harmonious Community Living, by Marlene M. Coleman & William Huss
- New Neighborhoods: The Consumer’s Guide to Condominium, Co-op, and HOA Living, by Gary A. Poliakoff & Ryan Poliakoff
- Drafting Rules: How Community Associations Maintain Peace & Harmony: A Guide for Association Practitioners, by Gurdon H. Buck
- Conflicts of Interest: How Community Association Leaders Honor Their Duties, by Tonia C. Sellers & Jay S. Lazega
- Conflict Resolution: How ADR Helps Community Associations: A Guide for Association Practitioners, by Mary Avgerinos
If you are unable to visit the Law Library of Congress, you might consider using the WorldCat catalog, or your local law library’s catalog, to find these resources in your area. To do so, simply perform a search, choose a resource from the results list, and use the “Find a copy in the library” feature on the resource’s catalog page to locate a nearby library that has the resource in its collection.
In one of our previous research guides, How to Use Subject Headings to Browse the Library of Congress Online Catalog, we discussed how to use the subject headings assigned to all resources in the Library of Congress online catalog to find other resources on your topic. Using the techniques in that guide, we suggest looking to these subject headings:
- Condominium associations.
- Condominium associations–[State Name].
- Condominium associations–Law and legislation.
- Condominium associations–Law and legislation–[State Name].
- Condominium associations–Law and legislation–United States
- Condominium associations–Law and legislation–United States–Popular works.
- Housing, Cooperative–Law and legislation–United States–Popular works.
- Housing, Cooperative–United States–Popular works.
- Homeowners’ associations.
- Homeowners’ associations–[State Name].
- Homeowners’ associations–Law and legislation–[State Name].
- Homeowners’ associations–Law and legislation–United States.
- Homeowners’ associations–Law and legislation–United States–Popular works.
- Homeowners’ associations–United States–Popular works.
You can use the advanced search feature on WorldCat to search by subject headings, as well.
Finally, some helpful online resources include:
- “State Condo Laws,” by National Conference of State Legislatures
- “Condominium Homeownership in the United States: A Selected Annotated Bibliography of Legal Sources,” by Donna S. Bennett
- “Homeowners Association Law,” by HG.org
- “Living Under a Homeowners’ Association,” by Nolo
Researchers can also use the Law Library of Congress’s Guide to Law Online to find free, state-specific online legal resources.
As always, if you have any other legal research questions after using the resources above, please feel free to use our Ask a Librarian service.