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Laguna Hills California Homeowners' Association Law Blog

Homeowners' association members question use of funds

Those living in housing communities here in Laguna Hills may enjoy numerous amenities and beautifully landscaped common areas. More than likely, this is due to the existence of an HOA. As homeowners' association members, those who live in these communities should be afforded the right to know where their dues go.

Residents of one community in another state that pay dues to an HOA are currently asking these questions. The board is accused of mismanaging more than a quarter of a million dollars in fees. As for the board, it says that the allegations against it are politically motivated due to upcoming elections and have no basis in fact.

Homeowners' association boards could have troubles with the city

Many of California's neighborhoods butt up against public lands. In some cases, the homeowners' association boards have entered into agreements with the cities in which they are located. For a variety of reasons, a board may end up with an issue concerning its agreements with the city.

For instance, an HOA in another state is currently in a dispute with the city in which it is located. Back during the development of the residential community, the HOA and the city made an agreement regarding access to a river near it. The community wanted to make sure that its residents had two entrances and access to the trail to the river, and the city wanted the property in question to remain public.

What should prospective homeowners' association members look for?

Finding the right house here in California can take some time. Prospective buyers look at several factors when deciding the right location and type of home. One other thing they need to consider is the pros and cons of becoming homeowners' association members.

Many communities across California have HOAs. If the house a person is looking at comes with an HOA, it would be a good idea to investigate it first. Of course, the cost of being a member would be at the top of nearly everyone's list. However, what exactly do homeowners get for the price?

Homeowners' association members often fear special assessments

Many California residents live on a budget. Fixed costs such as mortgage loan payments allow them to find the wiggle room in their budgets that allow them to pay off bills, go on vacation or buy new furniture. Another ordinarily fixed cost that homeowners' association members rely on is their monthly or quarterly dues. When an HOA notifies members of a special assessment, it could come as a shocking addition to the budget.

This is what happened to HOA members in another state. Residents of a condominium community knew about repairs to the whole HVAC system, but believed the cost was covered by a court settlement worth millions. It appears that is not the case, and the HOA levied a special assessment on each of its members for thousands of dollars.

Changes in California law for homeowners' association boards

The 2017 California legislative session saw some changes that affect residential communities. Some of the changes specifically apply to homeowners' association boards. Since these new laws may change the way HOAs work, it may be helpful to know what happened.

First, every document recorded with one of California's county recorders will be assessed a new tax of $75. This does not apply to documents transferring ownership of property, but it does apply to everything else. For instance, if an HOA needs to file a lien against a homeowner, it will cost $75, and when the lien is removed, it will require another $75 fee. More than likely, HOAs will pass on this cost to the homeowner, but it may still require budgeting for this new tax.

Preventing homeowner association disputes on solar panels

In any homeowners association, members are likely to disagree about what they think is or isn't best for the community as a whole. Knowing this, you can hopefully prevent disputes by getting one step ahead of the problem.

One area your members may argue about is the use of solar panels on homes. Some members may think they are worth it because they are better for the environment while others may believe they look tacky. Here are some suggestions for how you can hopefully prevent a dispute in the future.

Homeowners' association members should be wary and ask questions

Most people who deal with money do so honestly. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of their positions and are less than scrupulous. Embezzlement and misappropriation of funds can occur anywhere, even within a homeowners association. Homeowners' association members here in California would more than likely benefit from remaining wary and asking questions when they find something just is not right.

It took some time, but that is what the members of an out-of-state HOA did. Many members received odd billing statements indicating that they were behind in payments ranging from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. When others found that their bills increased without explanation, it took them some time to ask why.

Rights of homeowners' association members during development

The process of moving into a new area can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. Many individuals in California and elsewhere may feel as though becoming homeowners' association members will have its inherent perks. However, if a community is still under development, any control that a homeowner may have could be limited, and understanding the process might impact a person's decisions on buying a home in the area.

According to reports, concerns have been raised in two separate neighborhoods in another state, both of which are under development by the same company. An investigation into the claims allegedly led homeowners to discover that the rights of control over the homeowners' association remained with the builder throughout development, regardless of how long the process takes. In both situations, the communities have been in this stage for up to 11 years.

What regulations do homeowners' association members face?

California residents must take many factors into consideration when looking for a home. Many consider how far a house is from their place of employment or what schools are nearby. Depending on the area, potential homeowners must ask themselves if they would be comfortable as homeowners' association members. Unfortunately, some people have unfavorable views of HOAs because of negative media portrayals or stories of poorly run programs, so it is important to understand exactly what these associations may actually regulate.

HOAs are typically established to uphold functionality and uniformity among a common interest development, which usually involves certain shared neighborhood amenities. While HOA fees are usually used to support these CID standards, additional regulations may also be enforced among homeowners. These may include the number and types of pets allowed, vegetable gardens, home-based businesses, acceptable noise levels and more.

How do homeowners' association members deal with complaints?

One of the draws for many of California's housing communities is the amenities they provide. In most cases, that also means that living there comes with a homeowners' association, which could end up lodging a complaint against you. So how do homeowners' association members deal with complaints from the HOA board?

First, do not ignore it. HOA's can levy serious consequences against you, including filing a foreclosure. Before taking any action, it would benefit you to investigate the claims made in the complaint. If the supposed violation is not mentioned in your contract, the HOA may have no case. Furthermore, the allegations may not even be true.

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