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Unenforceable HOA rules and how you can fight back in California

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2022 | Real Estate Law

Homeowner Associations in California help ensure people living in a community or neighborhood are protected, cared for, and have an easier (or rather comfortable) stay. To do this, they enforce some rules that all homeowners must adhere to. But sometimes, their regulations are unreasonable and downright illegal. Let’s look at some unenforceable HOA rules and how to fight back against them in California.

Rules HOA can’t enforce

  • Making you get rid of your pets: HOAs can set restrictions on pets, but they cannot outright ban them.
  • Restricting how you use your home: For example, an HOA cannot tell you that you cannot have a barbecue in your backyard.
  • Making you pay for their mistake: If your HOA makes a mistake, such as overcharging you for dues or assessments, you do not have to just accept it and pay up; you can fight back by demanding a refund of the money that was wrongly charged to you.
  • Refusing to let you see the books: California law (Civil Code Section 5200) requires HOAs to keep financial records and make them available for homeowners to see upon request.

What to do when your HOA is breaking the law

  1. Talk to them to change that rule – Sometimes, HOAs are willing to change their rules if they realize that they are not legally enforceable.
  2. File a complaint with the state – If you believe that your HOA is breaking the law, you can file a complaint with California’s the Department of Real Estate (DRE).
  3. You can sue them in court – Most HOA disputes can be solved through mediation or arbitration, but if that isn’t giving you the results you want, you can file a lawsuit with the court.

HOAs are created principally to make residing in a particular community more comfortable and secure. If they are doing the opposite by imposing unenforceable rules, they are breaking the law. Fortunately, you can use one or more of the various options available to protect your rights as a homeowner.