Call Today 866-382-9335

Orange County Real Estate Law Blog

Water damages and resultant neighbor disputes

As many of the citizens of California might have experienced first-hand, runoff water can be devastating to a house. Moreover, if a homeowner's property was damaged as a result of runoff water coming from the neighbor's land, disputes are bound to arise. That being said, it is worth bearing in mind that the law will consider neighbors legally liable for the damages only when they have landscaped their land and this alteration has influenced the path of the runoff water.

With that said, an individual looking for restitution from their neighbor for damaged property has three types of laws with which to tackle this neighbor dispute. The Reasonable Use Rule, a law followed by a majority of states, requires the aggrieved to show that the alterations carried out by their neighbor were unreasonable and that these alterations are directly to blame for the increased flow of water onto the damaged property.

HOA issues fine over alleged obscene snow outline

Many homeowners in California who live in homeowners associations are likely aware of the potential for property-related disputes. In some cases, alleged HOA agreement violations are valid. However, other disagreements are questionable, to say the very least. The latter is what allegedly happened to a woman in Tennessee.

This particular homeowner dispute started with a light snowfall. The woman was fined $100 after her HOA discovered what it considered an obscene outline in the snow that remained when her car was moved. According to the HOA, the offensive imprint in the snow resembled the male genitalia, which they said was a violation of a rule against displaying offensive images or slogans. In the letter sent to the woman, the HOA claimed to have a photograph showing the suggestive imprint. The homeowner found the alleged HOA violation laughable and refused to pay the fine.

Before you buy, know about the community HOA

Buying a home is an exciting time. In California, finding a good residential property for an affordable price is quite the accomplishment, yet there are a few important things to know before you rush ahead with the purchase. One of the most crucial factors that can determine how you will use and enjoy your new home is the community Homeowners' Association.

The HOA in your potential neighborhood could greatly impact everything from what color you can paint your house to how many visitors can park at your home at a time. Before you sign on the bottom line, it is in your interests to get to know the HOA and how it works. Knowing the rules and enforcement procedures can save you time, money and stress in the future.

HOA restrictions can be burdensome

For many California residents, home ownership continues to rank high on the list of what it means to live the "American dream." The sense of pride in ownership coupled with the security of having one's own refuge from the world can, however, be challenged if a dispute arises between the homeowner and the homeowners association. The biggest area of controversy regularly revolves around choices a homeowner makes or wishes to make regarding architectural or landscaping changes. Although membership in an HOA is not voluntary, there are rights a homeowner retains and options that may be pursued when problems arise.

As a condition of purchasing a home in a neighborhood or area that is governed by an HOA, a homeowner agrees to follow all the rules, which are known as the covenants, conditions and restrictions. HOA experts caution that it is a good idea to review HOA rules prior to home purchase to avoid unexpected surprises. The reality, however, is that most people never do so until they are informed that something they have done places them in noncompliance.

Man battling HOA blames harassment on racial discrimination

Homeowners' associations govern communities throughout California, and their covenants and rules sometimes inspire legal battles. A man living in one in another state has been battling his HOA for two years. His latest motion filed with his local court demands dismissal of the HOA's case. He also wants $1 million in damages for racial discrimination and family stress.

A disagreement about a shed first brought the man to court. He believed that the neighborhood's covenants allowed him to have a shed while he was building an addition to his house. The HOA countered that only sheds in existence prior to the regulations about sheds were acceptable. To comply with the rules, other homeowners had needed to remove their sheds. The court ruled in favor of the HOA and told the man to comply and pay $2,500 in legal expenses for the HOA.

Lawsuit filed in American flag HOA dispute

Many California residents choose to live in planned communities with strict homeowner association rules covering issues ranging from the color of front doors to what type of vehicle owners can park in their driveways. These rules are designed to protect property prices and prevent unruly property owners or tenants from disrupting the community, but they sometimes prompt bitter disputes and protracted legal battles.

One such case is currently attracting headlines in South Carolina. A U.S. Air Force veteran has filed a lawsuit against his homeowner association after they denied his application to fly an American flag on his property. The association allows small flags to be mounted to homes, but the veteran wanted to mount his Stars and Stripes on a removable freestanding flagpole. The homeowners association claims that the flag would dominate the neighborhood and prompt other residents to mount flags of their own.

HOA dispute may result in jail time for homeowner

Some homeowners in California and other states have a love-hate relationship with homeowners' associations. HOAs can help maintain the appearance of a neighborhood, but disputes sometimes escalate and result in long, drawn-out battles. The latter is exactly what's happening with one man who has been having issues with his HOA over a shed on his property. He is now facing the possibility of jail time if he doesn't pay more than $3,000 in attorney fees.

The homeowner dispute involves a man, who is black, who believes his race is behind his HOA issues. He alleges the HOA is enforcing covenants on him but not on white neighbors. The HOA's attorney, who is also black, contends the HOA board did not know of the homeowner's race when he was informed of the violation. HOA violations against the mandate back to 2013 when the homeowner was accused of changing the color of his shutters without getting permission.

Your HOA is responsible for maintaining roads and parking lots

Nothing is worse on your vehicle than potholes and shoddy roads. When you move into a California neighborhood, you expect those things not to be present, especially if you become the member of a homeowners' association.

It may surprise you that keeping the roads in good condition falls to the HOA and not to local authorities. Knowing that, you probably expect that at least part of your HOA dues go toward making sure that the roadways and parking lots in the community remain well maintained.

Approaches that could resolve problems with noisy neighbors

Many people in California live in densely populated urban and suburban areas. Everyone expects some noise, but excessive disturbances that impact a person's quality of life could create tension between neighbors. When late-night parties or barking dogs irritate a person, a friendly or at least civil conversation with the noisy neighbor should be the first step.

Ideally, the complaint should be framed in a way that acknowledges that the person might simply not have realized how disturbing the noise was. The conversation gives someone a chance to reform behavior and reduce noise. Unfortunately, these informal complaints do not always resolve the situation. A noisy neighbor might react with hostility and continue to make noise. When a neighbor ignores a request to quiet down, then written complaints are appropriate.

Homeowners battle HOA to keep their paint color choices

Many communities in California observe aesthetic standards established by homeowners' associations. The paint colors chosen by one couple in another state has pitted them against the homeowners' association. Both parties suing each other and headed to trial. The HOA wants the homeowners to comply with the earth-tone color scheme mandated for the community and remove the multi-colored stripes that the couple painted on their home.

Written communications from the homeowners have stated that they will only alter their color choices if forced by a court order. They believe that their colors match the community. Their court filings insist that the HOA does not enforce its rules equally across the community. The homeowners described the HOA as "parasitic" and are seeking a formal separation from the HOA. They also want their road maintenance fees reduced.