What rights do I have to review the complete CC&Rs including addenda added in the past twenty plus years we lived in this community? I do not require them to retain, but only to locate a particular addendum that was added several years ago that the current board cannot or will not search for. I am willing to go to whatever office will supply me with the material, probably the management company. I have been told that there is a fee for such access, but I cannot believe that. What is your advice on how to pursue this request without confrontation?
Thank you. M.S., Laguna Niguel
No confrontation is necessary. Your association CC&Rs should be recorded with the Orange County Recorder, along with any amendments. Technically, you could go to the Recorder’s office and request them, or you could ask a title company customer service department to retrieve copies. There may be a modest charge.
Associations frequently do not have an official copy of their covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). Make sure your HOA is distributing a copy of the recorded document, not an unrecorded copy. You can tell, because the recorded copy should have a stamp on each page. Watch out for CC&R amendments which are inadvertently unrecorded. If they aren’t recorded, new owners may not have legal notice of them, which could undermine their enforceability.
Thanks for your question,
We always enjoy your column, so a quick question. When we moved into Laguna Hills years ago we were not crazy about having an HOA but had to accept the reality. For the first many years there was rarely a problem but that changed when our board changed management firms. Now the threatening letters of compliance are going out on a regular basis. Many of the alleged violations are so petty we won’t bore you with the laundry list. Does our little community have to have an HOA or is there any legal way to dissolve it? There is a street in our tract that for some reason does not have an HOA and yet those homeowners take excellent care of their properties without a board.
R.Y., Laguna Hills
Common interest developments provide many efficiencies, conveniences and protections. One such protection is architectural standards enforcement. Associations should pick their battles but also uniformly enforce standards, for the benefit of all owners. Still, items which you see as petty might be seen by others as important. If the majority of your HOA wishes to ease standards, then at your next annual meeting, elect directors who will move the HOA in that direction, but completely abandoning enforcement is a bad idea.
Dissolving your HOA is technically possible, but impractical and undesirable. It would take unanimous agreement of owners, and probably also their lenders. Later, if your neighbor parks a car on the front lawn, you would immediately miss your HOA, and wish there were a board to issue a violation notice. So, there are two sides to this coin.
If all homeowners followed the “Golden Rule,” always cooperating with each other, HOAs would be rendered unnecessary (just as would be laws, and – gasp- even lawyers). However, people are not always considerate and cooperative. Architectural standards can be irritating, but they do protect you and your equity.