Upholding HOA Architectural Restrictions & Enforcement Procedures

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A HOA’s diligence in detailing its restrictions and in handling its enforcement procedures are vital to ensuring its success in court…

Many disputes arise between Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) and homeowners over the HOA’s architectural rules and regulations. These disputes often involve enforcement of restrictions on unapproved structural installations, such as windows and doors.

Lawyers are often asked by HOA Boards of Directors and Community Association Management whether or not their HOA’s architectural rules and regulations will be upheld in a court action. The answer is generally yes, provided that the HOA:

  • • Has established clear guidelines/rules as to acceptable locations for the installation of improvements;
  • • Has a history of consistent enforcement of their rules and regulations as to all homeowners;
  • • Has utilized all internal administrative procedures, such as providing a clear an timely denial of an architectural application
  • • Has, in the event of homeowner noncompliance, used the correct enforcement procedures (such as cease and desist correspondence, disciplinary hearings, Alternative Dispute Resolution, etc.) prior to resorting to litigation.

This process was recently confirmed in the Suprior Court of San Diego County case of Chapala Management Corporation v. Stanton, 186 Cal.App.4th 1532, 2010 (“Stanton”). The homeowners in Stanton refused to submit to the HOA’s architectural rules and regulations when installing new windows. Efforts to resolve the dispute through non-judicial measures were unsuccessful. The court ultimately ruled for the HOA largely because the HOA had demonstrated the elements listed above. The court issued an order allowing the HOA to enter the homeowner’s property to modify the windows, at the homeowner’s expense, if the homeowner voluntarily failed to do so within a specific timeframe. The court also ordered the homeowner to pay the HOA’s attorney’s fees and costs with interest.

hoa laws Litigation is an expensive option of last resort. However, a HOA may be unsuccessful in resolving a dispute with a homeowner over enforcement of the HOA’s architectural rules and regulations. In such a case, where litigation becomes necessary, a HOA’s diligence in detailing its restrictions and in handling its enforcement procedures are vital to ensuring a beneficial outcome.

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