Dear Kelly,

Thank you for your column in the newspaper.

We recently purchased a condo and did some remodeling. We do have a city permit and the FINAL on the permit. Now our HOA is stating that they want to come in and do “their” own inspection. Do they have the right to do this? We are hesitating since it feels like an invasion of privacy and really wonder why they need to since we have the final sign off from our City. They have advised they can do a “forced entry”. Is this true?

Best Regards,

K.S., Mission Viejo

Dear K.S.,

Absent in true emergencies, associations have no automatic “right of entry,” but often the governing documents (typically CC&Rs or rules) grant the association inspection rights in certain circumstances. Most such provisions include advance notification to the member before the inspection. If the association has an express right under the documents to enter your home for a particular reason, reasonable cooperation by association and homeowner is preferable — the board should never try to force entry. If the association has a legitimate inspection need and a homeowner refuses, a court order is the proper procedure.

Sometimes a board will need to inspect an interior due to an emergency, a water leak, or to follow up on an alteration of the residence, but the governing documents do not specifically grant such a right. Rather than force your association to pursue legal action, in such circumstances the better approach is to cooperate with a reasonable inspection.

Thanks for your question,

Dear Kelly,

Our board members seem to be taking turns electing themselves to the board. Outsiders are not able to penetrate this clique, what happens when a board becomes self-serving and does not hold the best interest of the residents. We have an office manager who repeatedly holds monthly gambling parties in our club house, the board’s friends are able to get away with not following procedure where if any other residents do anything outside of the rules their homes are usually tagged with warnings and threats of being fined. Any help that we can get would be greatly appreciated.

J.W., Hemet

Dear J.W.,

Association directors serve at the will of the members, and in their service to the corporation they should not favor friends or disfavor others. Directors serving for multiple terms is not bad, so long as they do a good job, so I normally recommend against term limits. The lack of volunteers to run or serve is usually from either of two reasons. Either the members are content with the current board (or at least not sufficiently discontent to volunteer to replace them), or members are discouraged from running. Sometimes boards are dominated by volunteers who are the de facto managers of the association. That discourages volunteers, most of whom are unable to expend that level of effort.

If you think there are other neighbors who would perform better in the role of director, try to get support for a slate of other candidates at the next election. If your neighbors support a change of leadership, then perhaps the association will soon have new faces on the board. However, if your neighbors are content, just leave it be until attitudes change.

Thanks and good luck to you and your association,

Written by Kelly G. Richardson

Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Principal of Richardson|Ober PC.

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