A.V. from Los Angeles County, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello! I have been reading your columns and it’s pretty straight. Thanks! For the first time am asking a question. I hope it’s an easy one because it’s a tough one for us. Here it is: We live in a condo with a HOA/property management firm. We are renters. For the past 8 months we have been retro-fitting for earthquake (it is city mandated here) and the contractor is a joke. Without getting into much, they destroy private property like our garage door opener and denied they did it. Luckily, I had a camera installed and caught them in the act and they paid for the replacement! Because of the continued damages we’re finding (both HOA and PM along with my landlord aren’t much help and apparently as a renter I have no voice) in our garage currently it’s our cable for tv and internet has been damaged. Bottom line, I was told by cable that it needs to be fixed at my expense. Also, I can’t park in garage now so I park in handicap stall. I am legally handicapped and hold a valid placard. I was told by an HOA member I can’t park there. The space is not for residents; only guests! I stated I am legally allowed to park here (showed her my DMV registration). My landlord isn’t any help she just wants her rent! Help! I want my rights if any. I am finding that HOAs are pretty much except from and city state federal even ADA rules.
Mister Condo replies:
A.V., I am truly sorry for your predicament. You have two very separate events here so let’s talk about them separately. The contractor who damaged your garage door and cable/TV lines was hired by the HOA to do the work they did. The HOA is responsible for their any damage they did to the property while on site. However, as you have said, the contractor is long gone and your landlord isn’t stepping in to claim the property was damaged. As a renter, you have no standing as an association member because you are not one. Your landlord is. This may not be a fight you want to take on when the repair is likely a fairly inexpensive service call from your cable provider. Get a quote to have them repair your line and then decide if it makes sense to pursue your landlord and/or the HOA to collect. My guess is it won’t be. Your parking issue is more serious in my opinion. HOAs are not exempt from local, state, or federal laws or the ADA for that matter. However, the laws apply differently for private property versus public property. Most HOAs are private property so they do not have to grant use of their privately-owned Guest Parking spaces to residents. You can (and should) petition the Board for a handicapped parking space. They do have to review your request and either grant or deny the request based on the “reasonable accommodation” rule. If your request can be reasonable granted they should not deny it. If they do deny your request and you feel the denial was not reasonable, I would encourage you to seek the services of an attorney with ADA and HOA experience. Expecting the HOA or your landlord to look out for your best interests isn’t too likely a scenario. Taking the necessary steps to correct both problems is your best bet. Thanks for being a fan. Good luck!