R.J. from Contra Costa County, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a very large senior community (roughly 7,000 residents). We have numerous condominiums scattered about in buildings housing up to 20 condo units. Most all building are above street level except for the building my condo is in. My building has six condos, all at ground level. People walk in the backyard in close proximity to my unit in violation of what I believe is my right to privacy. The HOA guidelines mention only “common grounds”, placing no restriction on their usage. I have two questions: (1) Does my right to privacy supersede the right of people walking on common grounds in my backyard, and (2) Would I prevail in court if I sued the association for failing to limit access? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Mister Condo replies:
R.J., this sounds like a very uncomfortable living situation. Of course, it isn’t as if ground floor unit owners didn’t know they were buying ground floor units when they purchased. I am not aware of a “right to privacy” other than others may not enter your home or approach your home for the purpose of looking in, which would fall under the category of a “peeping Tom”. California does offer you protection from such occurrences but proving that someone is spying on you or truly peeping on you may be difficult to prove. The use of common grounds by unit owners would very likely prevail here unless the governance documents specifically forbids other unit owners from walking in certain areas designated as “off limits”. It doesn’t sound like that is the case here. I would recommend you speak to an attorney about the likelihood of you having legal rights and/or prevailing in a court case. It would likely go to arbitration rather than a courtroom. From what you have shared here, I just don’t see where you have much of a case. That is what the attorney is to decide. All the best!