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Homeowner associations and maintenance obligations

California residents who live in condominiums are typically subject to their homeowner association (HOA) regulations. One of the most confusing situations a homeowner may face is who is responsible for repairs and general maintenance. Laws and regulations may differ if the unit is a condominium rather than a planned unit development (PUD).

Generally speaking, the homeowner association takes care of repairs and maintenance on all common areas. Homeowners are responsible for all repairs and maintenance inside units.

Common areas that are available for the exclusive use of the homeowner are generally the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain. Examples include porches, balconies, door frames and screens. Homeowners should consult HOA governing documents before making repairs. The situation may become unclear when HOA documents do not clearly designate which areas are common areas versus individual unit areas.

In PUDs, the homeowner generally owns the unit itself and the ground underneath. The homeowner association is typically responsible for painting the exterior walls, maintaining and replacing the roof and maintaining some areas of landscaping adjacent to the home. PUDs vary in the extent of responsibility they take for general maintenance, repairs and replacements.

Homeowners who are in dispute with their HOA regarding who is responsible for repair and maintenance may wish to consult an attorney experienced in handling HOA disputes. When HOA documents are unclear about who is responsible for repairs, an attorney could provide legal advice about relevant state and federal laws and regulations. HOA board members can also benefit from the advice of an attorney regarding maintenance issues.

Prior to meeting with an HOA lawyer, it is a good idea for prospective clients to gather any relevant documents, such as governing documents regarding the HOA rules, restrictions and regulations, contracts, photographs and financial documents.

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