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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Yes, a sober-living home could be in your community

Living in a Homeowner's Association, you may assume that everyone has to be of a certain background. Maybe everyone would have to afford the home and work for a living, being quiet and supportive of the community, for example. That's not always how HOA's are, though. Sometimes, they contain other facilities, like residential care facilities.

By law, HOA governing documents can't ban the use of "residential care facilities" for six or fewer people. These care facilities may refer to family day care homes or drug and alcohol abuse or treatment facilities. A good example of a drug and alcohol-based treatment facility is a sober-living home.

Should a sober-living home be allowed in your HOA?

Since California's laws prohibit HOA's from banning these facilities for six or fewer people, there isn't much you can do to prevent a sober-living home in your community. In fact, the sober-living home may be considered to be a residential use of the property by a single family, even though the people inside are not related to one another. This all falls under the California Community Care Facilities Act.

What is a sober-living house, exactly?

Before you get too upset about the potential for a sober-living home in your community, remember that it is not exactly the same as an addiction program's facility. A sober-living home is where many people go following treatment to begin to merge back into society. This home gives these individuals a chance to adjust before entering back into a normal way of life with a job, schooling or other responsibilities.

There are rules in these homes, which include curfews, meeting requirements and other restrictions. Neither drugs nor alcohol are allowed in the sober-living facility. During the stay, individuals are encouraged to locate housing for after recovery, to find a job and to make amends with those they may have hurt when abusing drugs or alcohol.

It is not always easy for HOA's to adjust to a sober-living home on the premises, but the reality is that these facilities are needed. With a positive community willing to help people through recovery, there is actually a better chance of these people avoiding relapse and becoming law-abiding citizens you can trust in your own community. It takes a community to help others with recovery, and that should be the goal if your HOA will have a sober-living home within your community as well.

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