Northern California Condominium – HOA Disputes
Peterson, Martin & Reynolds LLP provides litigation services to homeowners, commercial property owners, board members, and common interest developments of all types throughout California, including condo associations, homeowners’ associations (HOAs), 55+ communities, mixed-use communities, commercial and industrial associations, and master-planned communities.
Our law firm provides innovative and practical legal solutions to clients facing a variety of condominium and HOA disputes. With over 25 years in practice, we have a thorough understanding of this state’s HOA laws and leverage that knowledge to benefit our clients. If you require assistance with a condo or HOA dispute, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.
What is a Condo Association or HOA?
In 1985, the California State Assembly passed the Davis-Stirling Act, which allows developers of common-interest developments to create a Homeowners Association to govern that development. When planning condominiums, subdivisions, and master-planned communities, real estate developers form HOAs, which are established as non-profit mutual benefit corporations.
Anyone who purchases a unit in a common-interest development will receive a copy of the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) for the HOA. The purchaser is supposed to receive relevant HOA docs prior to closing on a property, so they understand their rights and obligations. Once a property is purchased in an HOA development, the owner automatically becomes a member who is subject to the rules of the association.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Having an HOA
Many communities and property owners have a love-hate relationship with HOAs. That’s understandable since the arrangements have both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of HOAs
- Access to Amenities — Many HOAs are in communities with common areas that have things like swimming pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, and other benefits like yard upkeep, cable TV, and trash pickup.
- Property Values — Well-maintained and uniform-looking neighborhoods like those you find in HOAs may have higher property values.
- Financial Stability — HOAs collect dues and hold reserves to pay for the maintenance and repair of common areas.
- Community Pride — Having amenities, regular events, and included common areas instills a sense of community pride.
Disadvantages of HOAs
- Maintenance Fees — Purchasing a home in an HOA involves a commitment to pay the established fees, which can increase over time. Special assessments can also make this option less affordable for some homeowners.
- Rules and Regulations — An HOA acts as a mini-government within your community, which can create and enforce rules. While living in an HOA, you may not be able to decorate the exterior of your home the way you want, park an RV in your driveway, or even host a yard sale.
- Non-Compliant Neighbors — When neighbors aren’t compliant with HOA rules and regulations, others in the community pay the price by having to pursue legal remedies.
- Disagreements and Disputes — It’s not uncommon to have disagreements and disputes among neighbors in HOAs, between HOAs and homeowners, and between HOAs and management companies, among others.
California Laws Governing Condo Associations and HOAs
It would be nearly impossible to compile a list of every law that might apply to an HOA in California. However, at the top of the list, the fair housing and debt collection laws and the Davis-Stirling Act would be a good start.
As previously mentioned, the Davis-Stirling Act is California’s statute that specifically applies to community associations. It delivers a framework for the creation of common interest development, and its more than 200 individual code sections outline the legal rights and responsibilities of condo associations or HOA members.
Similar to many other state HOA statutes, Davis-Stirling gives association boards certain powers to act on behalf of their communities, protects homeowner’s rights, and places various limitations on offices and board members.
In addition to state statutes, the federal Fair House Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act have provisions that may be applicable to disputes in condo associations and HOAs.
Common HOA Disputes in California
HOA and condo disputes can quickly become complex and tense. Depending on the nature of the disputes, various parties may be involved, including:
HOA and Resident Disputes
These are the most common types of HOA and condo association disputes. While HOAs regulate how properties are used, disputes often arise over the payment of dues, an alleged violation of HOA rules, and the use of common areas. Typical areas of litigation include:
- Collection of unpaid assessments
- Lien foreclosures
- Enforcement of HOA rule violations
- Whether damage involves a common area or the owner’s separate property
Disputes Among Other HOA Members
Conflicts among neighbors who live in close proximity are all too common. Disputes can range from property damage claims to disagreements over shared costs to nuisance claims.
Disputes With Developers and Contractors
Condo associations and HOAs start with developers and contractors that develop and build the communities. When defects or other problems are discovered, certain pre-litigation procedures must be followed to resolve them, and protracted litigation may become necessary. In addition, when associations hire other contractors or vendors to maintain common areas and make necessary repairs, litigation may become necessary when those professionals fail to perform per the standards in the industry.
Disputes with Association Management Companies
Many condo associations and HOA contract with professional organizations to manage their properties and keep track of the association’s finances. When a professional fails to honor their contract, misuses association reserve funds or is otherwise negligent, the association may have cause to file suit and pursue damages.
Contact our Experienced Condo – HOA Dispute Law Firm Today
At Peterson, Martin & Reynolds, we have extensive experience handling condo and HOA disputes throughout the state. Our lawyers are familiar with the applicable statutes, and case law, and understand how local courts are likely to evaluate various legal claims and how to position your case to secure the best possible outcome.
We always put the needs and goals of our clients first. Our firm makes sure you understand your legal options so you can make the most informed choice about your case. Call our office today at (415) 399-2900 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. We have offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Lafayette, California.