California Skyline

California HOA Disputes & Resolutions

William B. Hanley Jan. 22, 2019

Anyone who’s ever lived under the reign of an overbearing homeowners association will tell you that HOAs can be demanding. By its very nature, the decision to live in an HOA community means answering to someone else about your own property — an experience that can make homeowners feel anywhere from comfortable in their well-maintained neighborhood to downright infuriated by the rules they must abide by to live there.

On the flip side of the argument, homeowners associations strive to uphold a strict set of rules so property values are maintained. Just as a community member can take disciplinary action against an unsatisfactory HOA, an HOA can take disciplinary action against a homeowner — up to and including a lawsuit.

HOA Disputes & How to Resolve Them

Petty disagreements about lawn care are by no means the only source of conflict between HOAs and homeowners. Here are just a few of the most common (and legally legitimate) reasons you might decide to take legal action against your HOA:

Bogus Fines

If your HOA tries to make you pay unfounded or excessive fines, you don’t have to sit back and allow it. Review your HOA contract, compare notes with your neighbors, and don’t hesitate to talk the issue over with an experienced real estate attorney in Orange County.

Architectural Disagreements

Many HOA disputes start with a homeowner’s architectural vision being squandered by their HOA. Although HOAs have a say in the structural layout of the neighborhood’s properties, there are limitations. Double-check the covenant restrictions laid out in your HOA agreement for details on what you can and can’t do (architecturally speaking) with your home.

Discriminatory Behavior

If an HOA refuses to accept you into their community — or if they accept you but treat you unfairly — based on your age, sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, or another identifying characteristic, they are 100% acting illegally. Taking legal action against them could not only help your situation but also prevent the same injustice from happening to others.

Failure to Uphold HOA Duties

Just as homeowners must adhere to their HOA contracts, so too much HOAs themselves. When an HOA fails to maintain shared resources, repair properties in a timely manner, or uphold other commitments outlined in your contract, you have every right to take a stand.

Depending on the gravity of your concern, you may decide that a full-blown lawsuit isn’t necessary. Instead, you can, of course, try communicating the concern to your HOA board members or gathering the support of your fellow community members. If those steps don’t yield the results you’re hoping for, consult with an attorney for further options.

Misappropriated Funds

According to The Community Association’s 2016 National and State Statistical Review, U.S. homeowners paid approximately $88 billion in assessments toward community associations in 2016. As a paying member of an HOA community, you want to know that your money is going toward the betterment of your neighborhood — not the hobbies or so-called “business lunches” of your HOA board members.

If you suspect that your HOA is misappropriating funds, don’t wait to speak up. The sooner you talk your case over with a lawyer, the sooner you can ensure that your money is being directed where it should be.

Lessons Learned from HOA Disputes

Whether you’re actively involved in a legal dispute with your homeowners association or you simply want to avoid running into such a dispute in the future, be sure to keep this information in mind when looking for your next home. Work with a lawyer who can identify those legal red flags, help you navigate your current predicament, and ultimately advise you on how best to sidestep future real estate disputes. Contact William B. Hanley, Attorney At Law today for more information.