Most people are familiar with the musical genius of Nat King Cole, who was a California resident at the time of his death in 1965 at the young age of 45. He was the father of singer Natalie Cole and the creator of universal favorites such as "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable." In the late 1940s and thereafter, the entertainer had to contend with the evils of racial discrimination in housing that was engineered against him and his family by a homeowners' association created just to keep him out of a stately Los Angeles neighborhood.
Nothing sparks the holiday spirit like a glowing tree covered in colorful lights or a lawn display of the nativity scene. However, for those who live in California communities managed by homeowners associations, such displays may violate the Covenant, Conditions & Restrictions they agree to when they purchase homes in that community. At this time of year, it is not unusual for homeowners to lock horns with an HOA regarding their holiday decorations. However, one family recently prevailed when their HOA stepped over the line.
California and other states are attempting to find a middle ground where private homeowners can rent their properties out on a short-term basis but where such rentals will be limited in time and scope. In some communities, the homeowners' association has come forward to put restrictions on short-term rentals. Homeowners complain that short-term rentals deflate the value of the homes by bringing transient residents with detrimental practices into the neighborhood.
A successful homeowners association must provide an equal balance of benefit and responsibility. California homeowners who choose to live in HOA communities must understand that they will be making certain sacrifices to comply with the covenants they sign. In exchange, they expect their board members to maintain an aesthetically pleasing and tranquil environment. Nevertheless, HOA boards regularly deal with complaints about a variety of issues.
California Senate Bill 1265 would seek to curb abuses of power by homeowner associations. The bill intends to further democratize the process of HOA elections but there are others who say that the bill is misdirected. The bill's detractors point out that the current system of elections in the state's 55,000 homeowners' associations is the strongest in the nation. They claim that the current system is fair.
Buying a home in a private California community often means accepting the governance of a homeowners association. An HOA is established by the developer of the community, and its management is then transferred to its board, which is made up of property owners in the community. The board enforces the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R), which are the rules every homeowner in the community agrees to live by. Homeowners pay monthly HOA fees, which can be less than $100 or well over $1,000, depending on the services the HOA provides for its residents.
In California, those looking to buy a home will find that many homes on the market are subject to a homeowners' association. A HOA can be a benefit under many circumstances, but there are also times when its rules conflict with a homebuyer's desires or circumstances. It is best to research the rules and practices of the association prior to deciding to make the purchase of a residential premises.
The pettiness of some disputes that homeowners have with their homeowners' associations explains why buyers do not always choose to locate in such a community. Basic rights of expression and harmless efforts by California homeowners to be helpful are not always welcomed by the HOA, which often leads to expensive, time-wasting conflicts. This is how one family in another state views an association's efforts to have a Little Free Library box removed from their front yard.
California courts host a continual flow of disputes between homeowners' associations and their tenants or others. Most condo and single-family residential developments utilize the HOA as a method to administer certain management functions that are common to the homes comprising the development. The state has passed a regiment of laws that govern how the association is to be formed and the general scope of its authority.
California is replete with homeowners' associations that govern many high-valued real estate communities throughout the state. A homeowners' association exists to maintain standards in landscaping, recreational facilities and other land restrictions that are mandated in the group's bylaws. Theoretically a protective device for homeowners, they have also become famous for the variety and intensity of disputes and lawsuits that they engender with member homeowners.