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Steps HOAs can take to deal with covenant violations

Homeowners' associations are widespread throughout California. They are tasked with enforcing the standards and covenants of their communities, but their agents must tread carefully when confronted with the need to take direct action. An uncooperative homeowner might charge an association's agents with trespassing if they attempt to perform maintenance.

Self help describes direct action taken by an association without a court order. Before sending people to work on a building or landscape, the people in charge of the association must identify their authority to act. The recorded Declaration of Covenants must specifically state the circumstances under which the association can act upon a property without the occupant's permission. Citing the provisions within the governing documents might provide the association's only defense if a legal battle results.

Before proceeding with any work, an association should exhaust its other options. The occupant should be sent a notice describing the problem and setting a deadline for the completion of maintenance. This could give the occupant a chance to comply before an association must resort to direct action. If an association ends up sending workers onto a property, the occupant might resist by threatening them or calling the police. If the police come, they will not sanction an association's entry without a court order.

A homeower involved in an HOA dispute might benefit from discussing the issue with an attorney before resorting to self help. An attorney might write a letter proposing a timeline for a solution. If this does not produce the desired result, an attorney could take the case to court.

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