Property owners in California who allowed their grass to turn brown during the state's lengthy drought may soon be receiving notices from their homeowners associations. Water restrictions that had been imposed were lifted across most of the Golden State by Gov. Jerry Brown in April, and that means that rules preventing property owners from watering their lawns are no longer in effect. It has been observed that HOAs have wasted little time in letting their members know that brown lawns are no longer acceptable and violators are likely to face sanctions.
California homeowners associations must have what are referred to as operating or house rules. These rules must be written and adopted by a board of directors, and they must be adopted or changed in accordance with Civil Code 4360. There are five sets of rules that all associations must have regardless of size. For instance, there must be election rules that apply to both board elections and any matter that requires a membership vote.
Covenants, conditions and restrictions, also known as CC&Rs, are the documents that spell out how homeowners' associations and neighborhood or community bylaws are to operate. The purpose of these is to clearly communicate procedures and expectations in order to eliminate problems between neighbors, owners and HOAs.
Many Californians live in areas that are controlled by homeowners' associations. When they do, they are subjected to the established rules of the associations that control their neighborhoods. Some HOAs have rules that are overly restrictive, and a pending bill would limit the ability of HOAs to place restrictions on the rights of homeowners.
According to a 2015 study, the average HOA fees in San Diego County, California were $296 a month. Typically, such fees can range from $150 on the low end to as high as $850 a month, and the fee will cover different items depending on where a home or condo is located. In most cases, the fees will cover landscaping in community areas, but it may also cover the cost of a rec center or a pool.
In California, a homeowners’ association, or HOA, is subject to federal and state laws regarding housing discrimination and other issues. Within those legal parameters, however, an HOA has quite a lot of leverage, as a recent story illustrates.