Once you find yourself in a conflict with your homeowners association, here are a few tips to get the resolution you want, according to lawyers and activists.

1. Know your rights. If you know your governing documents and are generally familiar with state laws that apply you will have the advantage.

2. Mind your manners. Association board members are volunteers and will respond better to a member that isn't engaged in name-calling or other disrespectful behavior.

3. Be patient. Like any bureaucracy, things move slowly in the association world.

4. Be creative. Rather than argue against the application of a rule to you, argue for a change in the rule to the benefit of the community.

5. Watch for discrimination. Even if the board is complying with the governing documents and state laws, determine if their actions can be viewed as arbitrary and capricious; that is, they have cited you for a violation while other homeowners go without being citied. That must be documented if you are going to sue in court.

6. Pay your fines. Do not ignore any fines because they will continue, and it will be very costly if you are sued by your association. You can lose your house.

7. Get organized. Remember, you are under a binding contract once you buy into an association. Document everything and get everything the association says in writing.

8. Consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation.

9. If all efforts fail, seek out a lawyer in your area familiar with homeowner-association disputes and local and state laws. Consider filing a lawsuit.