Can a Homeowner
Sue Their HOA?

According to a 2014 Public Opinion Strategies survey published by the Community Associations Institute, approximately 24% of respondents reported that they had experienced a significant issue with their homeowners' association. From time to time, disputes may arise between a homeowners' association (HOA) and its members. Such disagreements may include discriminatory behavior, breach of fiduciary duty, maintenance delays, misappropriation of HOA funds, or bogus fines. If you are involved in a major homeowner's association disagreement, consulting with a knowledgeable California real estate attorney is crucial for detailed guidance.

At Wood Litigation, APC, we have the experience and resources to assist and guide clients in HOA disputes and other real estate litigation matters. Our attorneys are available to discuss your situation and explore your legal options to resolve the disagreement. Whether you are trying to resolve a dispute or considering filing a lawsuit against your HOA, we can offer you the experienced legal guidance and reliable representation you need.

Our team at Wood Litigation, APC proudly serves clients across San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Jose, San Mateo, Alameda, and Oakland, California. Call us today to schedule a case evaluation.

Rights and Obligations of an HOA

Homeowners' associations (HOAs) are created in many communities across the United States to establish specific rules and regulations by which all of the neighborhood’s residents must abide. If you buy real property in a community governed by an HOA, you will automatically become a member of that community’s homeowners’ association. Here are some of the common rights, duties, and obligations of an HOA:

  • Establish and approve bylaws, rules, regulations, and covenants
  • Appoint committees and assign tasks to members
  • Hold meetings for the board of directors and association members
  • Review complaints and address the various concerns of residents
  • Enforce fees, fines, and penalties against homeowners and residents who breach the rules or bylaws
  • Maintain common areas such as community buildings, green spaces, amenities, and other facilities
  • Maintain reserve funds for future community projects or emergency needs
  • Conduct routine home inspections
  • Budget and organize adequate maintenance and timely repairs

Governing Documents of an HOA

Below are the basic governing documents of a homeowners’ association:

Articles of Incorporation

The articles of incorporation usually contain the primary information about the association, including its name, location, and its purpose.

Declaration of Covenants,
Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)

The CC&Rs include the various rules and regulations of your community. They contain comprehensive and vital information about the following:

  • The general structure of the development and its operation
  • The land that is subject to the governing documents
  • The things you can or cannot do with your property
  • The authority and obligations of the association
  • The rights and responsibilities of every member of the association

Bylaws

Every homeowners’ association adopts a set of bylaws. The bylaws spell out the following:

  • How the association is run
  • Voting rights and procedures
  • Rules for holding meetings
  • Rights and responsibilities of the association
  • Procedures for establishing an annual budget and determining assessment amounts
  • The length of the terms for the board members and the procedures for organizing elections

Rules and Regulations

This is a separate document that contains lengthier and more detailed rules and regulations by which association members, including all residents and homeowners, are expected to abide.

HOA Declaration

An HOA declaration includes both the physical and legal descriptions of the whole community. The description will also describe the number of individual units in the community, such as family homes or condominiums.

Taking Legal Action

Conflicts between HOAs and homeowners are quite common. If you believe that your homeowners’ association has acted improperly, you can take legal action against the HOA. Common disputes involve:

Breach of Fiduciary Duty: The HOA board members have a fiduciary duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty to act within the scope of their authority. The HOA board members are expected to act fairly on behalf of the corporation and in good faith. Aggrieved homeowners can sue the HOA for breach of fiduciary duty.

Breach of Covenant: The CC&Rs rules and regulations of a homeowners’ association are legally binding for the association's members. Homeowners can take legal action against the HOA if they fail to follow the CC&Rs rules and regulations.

Negligence: Homeowners may also file a lawsuit against the HOA for negligent actions such as financial misappropriation, repair or maintenance delays, failure to implement rules about noise and barking dogs, or discriminatory behavior or enforcement of rules against certain residents.

Work With Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

Personal issues and disagreements often arise between HOA board members and homeowners. While some disputes may be resolved internally, individuals involved in the conflict may not be satisfied with the outcome. For some others, such issues may remain unresolved. If the dispute is considerably more serious and requires filing a lawsuit against the HOA, consulting with an experienced HOA litigation firm is important to protect your rights.

At Wood Litigation, APC, our attorneys are committed to offering comprehensive legal guidance and reliable representation in matters of HOA disputes and lawsuits. As your legal counsel, we can review and investigate your complaints and help you understand your available dispute resolution options. Using our extensive knowledge and legal understanding, we will help negotiate a fair resolution with your HOA or represent you in court, if necessary.

Contact us at Wood Litigation, APC today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced real estate attorney. Our attorneys can offer the detailed legal counsel, advocacy, and strong representation you need in your case. We're proud to represent homeowners across San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Jose, San Mateo, Alameda, and Oakland, CA.


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