More than 50,000 developments in California fall under the regulation of homeowners' associations. The passage of SB 407 resulted from ongoing incidents of association boards preventing residents from expressing their political views or engaging in political activities. The new law affirms the rights of people to engage in political speech without interference from an HOA board.
California residents who live in a common interest community such as an HOA don't necessarily have full control over their property. Instead, they elect a group of people to make decisions on behalf of the entire community. When done properly, this may provide them with greater security and help them live a higher quality of life.
Homeowner associations, like other organizations, are often required to balance the needs of the individual property owner against the needs of the subdivision or condominium building. An HOA in the Santa Clarita Valley recently learned this over a scandal involving an email list of its members.
Tenants and homeowners in California and across the United States are grappling with lawsuits over smoking in buildings and secondhand smoke. Some condo owners or tenants who are sick or particularly sensitive to secondhand cigarette smoke are pursuing lawsuits against management companies and other homeowners or tenants in an effort to enforce no-smoking orders on the entire building.
When prospective homeowners are looking at Orange County properties, they might consider the views, the peacefulness of a neighborhood or the safety of surrounding streets. Unfortunately, land development and moving neighbors can result in the loss of these qualities, which can impact enjoyment of the property as well as reduce its value. A lawsuit may be capable of remedying a damage to property rights in some situations.
Civil codes in California regulate the interactions between condominium owners and homeowner associations. One source of confusion for owners is the level of autonomy and privacy that they have when making changes or repairs inside their homes. The written Condominium Plan specific to each community designates exactly where common and personal spaces begin. In general, the unit owner has control of the space bounded by the surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings.
Many California residents pay fees to homeowners associations each month, and they expect this money to be spent wisely. They also expect a certain degree of transparency from their HOAs, and unexpected bills or unannounced fee hikes can lead to bitter disputes and protracted litigation. Matters can become particularly thorny when the costs of improvement projects spiral out of control or work has to be halted due to budgetary constraints.
California residents may be aware that the staff of foreign embassies and consulates are protected from prosecution for all but the most serious crimes by diplomatic immunity. However, they may not know that this privilege may also extend to shield diplomats from liability in civil actions, such as homeowners association disputes. The concept of diplomatic immunity dates back to ancient times, and it has been recognized in the United States since the late 18th century.
Many dog lovers live in California, but the incessant or late-night barking of a neighbor's dog could leave a person wondering how to fix the problem. Even if a city has laws about noise, people are advised not to call the police as their opening move. The first step should be to approach the neighbor to discuss the situation.
While it may be possible for California residents to represent themselves in cases against homeowners association boards, it may not be the best strategy. This is because a case against an HOA may be a complicated one. It is possible for a board to argue that the claim is derivative. This means others may experience a negative outcome if a single case is dismissed or doesn't result in a positive outcome for a single plaintiff.