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Homeowners face a tsunami of regulations in battle with HOA

Living in a well-appointed California real estate development that is governed by a Homeowners' Association may be seen by residents as a point of prestige and matter of convenience. Getting involved in a dispute with the HOA can be a living nightmare of red tape and questionable association policies. In one dispute in another state, a family wanted to construct a small four-foot wooden fence to keep out trespassers and daily interlopers such as workers, teens, bicyclists and the like.

The problem with such matters is that the first thing that must be studied is the rules and regulations of the HOA. These can be voluminous, ambiguous and even oppressive, depending on a resident's particular perspective. Those rules, however, are not the end of the bureaucratic clutter. California also has a body of laws and regulations that may be pertinent and must be followed in such matters. The fence described above is now held in abeyance because of several issues that arose.

Neighbors objected to its placement. The owners had to also obtain a precise survey to determine where their property lines were located. The municipality regulating such matters issued a stop work order because the owners did not get proper permits. The proposed location of the fence had to be moved when the correct boundary lines were obtained. Pursuant to HOA regulations, the application had to be first submitted to an HOA architectural review committee, which the homeowners had not done.

The committee reviewed the specifications and denied the application for various stated reasons. In such situations, the HOA rules require mediation to determine an outcome. California laws must be consulted at the same time to determine whether the HOA procedure is compliant with state law. The best way for interested parties to confront the onslaught of regulations is to retain a real estate attorney experienced in HOA matters. The benefit of prior experience with similar situations can often be a deciding factor in getting a project approved under such demanding circumstances.

Source:, "Family battles homeowners association over fence installation", Adrianna Iwasinski, June 30, 2017

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