Serving Orange County since 2012
Serving Orange County since 2012
According to a 2016 study by the Community Associations Institute (CAI), there are approximately 23,000 Homeowners' Associations (HOA) in the State of California, consisting of over 9 million residents.
Generally speaking, HOAs are legal entities (sometimes incorporated, usually non-profit) consisting of the owners of a certain type of real estate development (i.e., a condominium complex, a housing tract, etc.). The purpose of the HOA is to formulate and enforce rules and regulations regarding the homes or units which make up the development. The rules and regulations are usually codified in a document called "Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions" (CC&R). HOAs are also responsible for maintaining the "common areas" of the community, such as pools, parks, clubhouses and other facilities which members are allowed to enjoy.
It is generally accepted that one of the benefits of living in an HOA is an overall increase in property values. CC&Rs generally require members to maintain their property according to certain minimum standards. Things like landscaping, exterior paint and additions/improvements to your home are all covered under the CC&Rs and usually, any departure from the CC&Rs (or other rules set by the HOA's Board of Directors) must be pre-approved. These rules not only require your neighbor to keep his grass trimmed and front yard free from junk cars, but also prevents him from hosting free heavy metal concerts in his backyard on the weekend or operating a petting zoo out of his garage.
HOAs essentially tell you what you can and cannot do with your property. In some respects, that is good because the actions of one member are not allowed to affect the community as a whole. However, oftentimes, the CC&Rs (and other rules enacted by the HOA Board) can be overly restrictive and outdated.
For example, in order to be more "water-conscious" you wanted to change the landscaping in your front yard from predominantly "softscape" (plants, grass, flowers, etc.) to mostly "hardscape" (decorative rock/stone, brickwork, etc.). You hire an experienced landscape architect to create what you think is a beautiful design which fits well within the community as a whole. When you submit your plan to the HOA Board, however, it is not approved because the CC&Rs require a certain ratio of hardscape to softscape and your plan does not meet those requirements.
The HOA is usually governed by a Board of Directors, whose members are elected by a vote of the members of the Association. The Board interprets and enforces the CC&Rs, and also usually has the power to enact other rules and restrictions "as necessary." Disputes often arise between homeowners and the Board over issues like:
Over the years, California has enacted a serious of laws which apply specifically to "common interest developments" like HOAs. The HOA usually has not only an experienced professional property management company, but also a law firm, already on its side, who know the ins and outs of the law and use this superior knowledge to the advantage of the HOA.
Let us help you level the playing field when dealing with your HOA. We have helped dozens of clients over the years successfully navigate a dispute with their HOA or other community association. Before you pay that assessment, scrap those improvement plans, or pay for that repair out of pocket, contact our office today for a free consultation.
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