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 page, the law regarding homeowners' 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.”
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:
If you are unable to visit the Law Library of Congress, you might consider using the WorldCat External 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 a different research guide, How to Use Subject Headings to Browse the Library of Congress Online Catalog, we discuss 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:
You can use the advanced search External feature on WorldCat to search by subject headings, as well.
Some helpful online resources include:
Researchers can also use the Law Library of Congress’s Guide to Law Online to find free, state-specific online legal resources.