How to sue your homeowner association to getrecords or repairs
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How to sue your homeowner association to get records or repairs
Stephen Glassman and DonieVanitzian, Special to The Time
September 5, 2010By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian
I am fed up with my homeowners association and successive boards for sabotagingowner requests for records and refusing to fix maintenance problems in common areas thatdirectly affect individual units. I believe I have no other choice than to sue the association and theboards. What are the steps I have to take?
Suing to obtain association records and suing to force an association to fix common-area problems are different types of lawsuits. The former can typically be done in Small ClaimsCourt. The latter must be brought in Superior Court; in such cases, consulting with an attorney toassess your chances of winning might be helpful.The only place you are not liable for attorney's fees if you lose is in Small Claims Court, and thatis probably where you should start.An action alleging the unreasonable failure of the association to deliver the records, if proved, is aviolation of Civil Code Section 1365.2(f) entitling you to the records and $500. Every time theassociation refuses to provide the records, you can go back to Small Claims Court and getanother order for the records and request another $500.After your demand for records, you will have to wait for the time limits in the Civil Code to expirebefore going to court, but don't delay.Your evidence should include a copy of the letter youwrote to the board requesting the records, the fact thatthe records you asked for were not provided and proof of the date that the request was mailed. Small ClaimsCourt allows you to subpoena those documents; theform can be obtained from the court in which you file.Although not necessary for Small Claims actions, inSuperior Court you will need to abide by the arbitrationrequirements found in the Davis-Stirling Act. A Superior Court lawsuit for the board's failure to make repairswould probably require that you contact an attorneyexperienced in representing titleholders with property incommon-interest developments.