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Orange County Real Estate Law Blog

The connection between HOA woes and security clearances

These days, more potential employers and workers in California need to pass security clearances. One of the more unique factors that may be considered for security clearances is an individual's homeowner's association (HOA) disputes. The connection may seem a bit odd. However, it's not so unusual for HOA-related problems to be a contributing factor in clearance denial and revocation cases.

For instance, if an HOA dispute involves a clearance holder's failure to pay dues assessed by an HOA board, this may raise red flags during a security clearance assessment. That's because the government often considers outstanding HOA debts as a sign that a security clearance holder may not be financially responsible. How much weight HOA issues are given will depend on the nature of the dispute, the amount owed and if there is a valid reason for disputing HOA fines or charges.

Homeowners seeking repairs two years after storm

Those who live in California may relate to the frustration that some Colorado residents are having. In May 2017, homes in Garrison Village experienced significant damage in a hail storm. Residents are still waiting for their homes to be completely repaired. Since the storm occurred, repairs have been made to roofs but not to siding or windows that were broken and battered in its aftermath.

Repairs have come along slowly because of issues between the HOA's management company and its insurance company. Each side has a different idea as to how much it would cost to repair the damage as well as what needs to be repaired. Although the parties went to mediation in December 2018, there was no resolution to the standoff. The case has gone to a U.S. District Court, and a trial date has been set for March 2020.

HOA issues that can lead to legal complications for you

California homeowners who live in communities with homeowners' associations know that it is not always easy to deal with these organizations. Homeowners and HOAs do not always get along, and these conflicts can sometimes lead to difficult legal disputes. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, it may be in your interests to know how to avoid problems. 

One of the most effective ways to deal with HOA problems is to avoid them in the first place. Homeowners who move into HOA communities likely have to sign a covenant that outlines what the HOA and the homeowner can expect from each other. Sometimes, simply reviewing this contract can help you deal with issues on which you may be unsure. However, there are times when an HOA can infringe on the rights of the property owner, and action may be necessary.

Nature path garden leads to HOA dispute

People who live in Orange County communities with homeowners' associations and other types of governing boards may find that even pleasant enhancements lead to community disputes. For example, a family living near a desert nature walk and trail in Mesa, Ariz., are engaged in just such a battle over enhancements they have added between their backyard and the walking path. The nature trail is part of the Dreamland Villas Retirement Community, where the couple lives.

While the retirement community is not governed by an HOA, it has a governing board with responsibility for common areas that belong to the community as a whole. The retirement community consists of around 3,700 houses, all owned by people aged 55 and older. The board manages the strip of desert land converted into the nature trail. It attracts walkers, joggers, birders and others looking for outdoor recreation, and the board created regulations to govern its operation. However, the board does not have the authority to levy fines on homeowners that violate the rules because it is not an HOA.

The impact of light on neighborhoods

Homeowners in California and elsewhere may find it to be annoying when light from a neighbor's house illuminates their properties as well. There are many ways in which the issue of light trespass can be resolved. The easiest solution could be to turn off lights when they are not in use. However, another solution may be to angle the lights toward the ground. If this isn't possible, a hood or shield can be used to restrict the area being illuminated.

Motion detectors can also be effective tools for limiting light pollution or light trespass. Prior to installing lights, property owners may want to discuss doing so with their neighbors. This allows a neighbor to express any concerns that he or she may have. It also allows a homeowner to make adjustments in a timely manner if issues are uncovered during this conversation. If a neighbor is committing light trespass, there is a good chance that this person is unaware of the problem.

Handling a noise complaint in a constructive manner

Disputes over noise aren't uncommon in situations where people live close together in an apartment complex or condo. However, California residents generally have a right to peace and quiet while at home. There are a few options that individuals may have when attempting to deal with a noisy neighbor. The first option is to simply explain the problem and work out a solution in a calm and reasonable manner.

In some cases, the neighbor may not have been aware that the noise was a problem before hearing the complaint. It is important to specify what the problem is when addressing the culprit. For instance, if there is loud music at night, ask that the stereo be turned down after a certain hour. In the event that a solution cannot be found, it may be necessary to make a written request with potential consequences spelled out if the problem isn't resolved soon.

How to handle arguments over property lines

Property disputes can happen in California or any other state in the country. They can occur because a tree grows too large or because a person accidentally placed a driveway or other path onto an area that didn't belong to him or her. There are many different ways that a dispute can be resolved. For example, it may be possible to get rid of a tree or plant that has grown onto a neighbor's property.

It may also be possible to grant an easement or otherwise deed the extra space to the person who is using it. If the homeowners themselves cannot come to an agreement, the problem can be resolved through mediation or a lawsuit. A survey can be done to clarify where one person's property ends and another begins. This may be used in negotiating a settlement if a dispute arises.

Couple wins lawsuit over holiday lights display

Some homeowners in California really get into the spirit when decking their halls, sometimes to the point where light displays are fairly elaborate and creative. In some instances, not all neighbors in the area are pleased with the attention that such displays get, especially if a normally quiet neighborhood becomes inundated with pedestrian and vehicle traffic. However, there is something to be said for the rights of homeowners to responsibly express their seasonal enthusiasm.

This is essentially what was at the heart of a neighbor dispute involving an Idaho couple. They annually drape their home with more than 200,000 lights, invite carolers to perform and set up a live nativity complete with a real camel. It's a spectacle that brings in busloads of visitors. While the couple does not charge a fee, they do accept donations, which they give to local charities. They ran into trouble when they moved to a new home and encountered difficulties with their local homeowners' association.

Moving during an HOA dispute? Here's is what you should know.

There are many benefits to living in a neighborhood or community with a Homeowners' Association. These organizations, when run properly, maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood and enforce certain rules that are important to the community. However, you, like other California homeowners, may know that these groups can sometimes overstep the boundaries of their authority.

When HOAs are out of line, it places homeowners in difficult positions, especially if they want to move or are already in the process of transitioning. HOA disputes can quickly spiral to become much more than a simple dispute, and it can become a legal matter you may need help to resolve. If you are moving during a dispute, you may find it beneficial to seek help as you deal with these complex matters. 

Christmas event leads to homeowners association conflict

Homeowners' associations are plentiful in California and across the United States. In most cases, these associations work to protect and beautify neighborhoods. Sometimes, however, members find themselves at odds with associations and their governing entities, leading to legal woes. This may be due to unfulfilled contractual obligations and complaints from neighbors, but it may also be due to causing a perceived road hazard.

For example, a homeowner in Idaho recently ended a legal battle with his neighborhood's association over complaints regarding a Christmas display. The display in question featured a live camel and nativity scene as well as over 200,000 lights, leading to large crowds gathering to take part in the event. Between the camel and the traffic congestion caused by the crowds, the event became a point of legal contention between the homeowner and the association.