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.
All homeowners associations must have an internal dispute resolution process. This process allows homeowners to meet with other homeowners or board members to resolve disputes without the need to go to court. If an association does not have its own rules, they must follow those as set forth in Civil Code 5915. Those who live in an HOA must be given an annual statement that sets forth lien rights as well as addresses how delinquent assessments will be handled.
There must be a process as to how a board proceeds if a member wishes to modify his or her home or adjacent common area. This procedure must be in writing and is required because it provides both members and the board with guidance as to how such issues should be handled. Finally, there must be a written schedule of fines as only those that are written can legally be enforced.
Those who are engaged in an HOA dispute may wish to talk with an attorney. At a minimum, an attorney may be able to help a homeowner find ways to resolve the dispute amicably. In some cases, this may mean using the internal resolution process to come to an agreement before taking the matter to court. However, legal counsel may represent homeowners in court if necessary.