A Rental Dispute Travels All The Way To The State Supreme Court
In what may be one of the most surprising cases this year to date, a dispute between a homeowner’s association in Indio, California and the residents who live there will appear before the California Supreme Court in a matter of weeks.
To summarize the situation, a controversial ruling by The Orchard community’s homeowners association to restrict short-term rental opportunities has been challenged by some residents of the area. These residents claim that the decision endorsed by the homeowners association is not legally valid due to the fact that the original amendment to restrict these rentals did not receive the necessary supermajority during the vote to allow it to pass.
Looking at Homeowners Associations and the Law
While it is true that the amendment did not receive 67% of the vote, also referred to as the supermajority, homeowners in support of the restrictions discovered that California state law allows for a petitioning of a local court to reduce the size of the supermajority needed to pass an amendment. In order for the local court to agree to these changes, it must be effectively demonstrated by the HOA that they expended the necessary time and energy to encourage individuals to vote on this issue at hand. Additionally, the HOA must prove with evidence that more than half of current HOA members voted in favor of the amendment itself.
Almost immediately after it was made clear that the HOA was seeking to circumvent supermajority rules, this process was challenged by a group of homeowners who were arguing against the liberties taken by their former HOA. These property owners, calling themselves The Orchard Homeowner Alliance, expressed in court that opposing sides should not have the opportunity to circumvent standard legal processes if the results of a ballot were not to their liking. The Orchard Homeowner Alliance also argued that the provision being used by the HOA was designed to protect the voting process in the event of low turnout, which was certainly not the case in this situation. Unfortunately for them, the court rejected the arguments of The Orchard Homeowner Alliance and sided with the original HOA.
Moving to the California Supreme Counrt
Fast forward to spring 2019, and the case continues to gain momentum as it makes its way to the California Supreme Court. The ruling against the Homeowner’s Alliance galvanized individuals and former residents opposing the favorable HOA ruling, who then proceeded to file suit against the HOA in order to protect their freedoms.
According to The Orchard Homeowner Alliance, their actions are grounded in the idea that it is unwise to provide the HOA with numerous opportunities to make decisions without the consent of the supermajority. This warning is based in large part on the fact that allowing an HOA to adjust policies as needed and on a discretionary basis effectively reduces the autonomy of its members and, thus, their personal freedoms.
The Orchard Homeowner’s Alliance also made the case that Civil Code section 4275, the specific statute relating to how the government can act to reduce the number of votes needed to pass HOA amendments, should not be modified hastily and consequently create a dangerous precedent moving forward.
Now that the case has made its way to the Supreme Court, advocates on both sides of the issue can rest assured that a decision will be made for them sooner or later.
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DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.