D.B. from Alameda County, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A homeowner sued the HOA company over water damage to her home. Our governing documents clearly state damage done to your unit from water is homeowner responsibility. If it’s a common area pipe, HOA will fix the leak but you are still responsible for damage. She actually won the lawsuit and HOA had to pay for the entire unit to be fixed. My question is should other homeowners have been informed about the lawsuit? Since we are the ones actually paying for it? The same unit has since had another leak and HOA is paying AGAIN. Also, a side question: Two homeowners were elected to be on the board recently and both quit after a month. Within three months they also sold their units. Is this cause for concern!??? Thank you in advance.
Mister Condo replies:
D.B., I am sorry that you and your fellow homeowners have been on the losing side of an HOA lawsuit and may end up on that side again should the aggrieved homeowner prevail in this latest suit. Clearly, regardless of how the HOA governing documents read, this homeowner made a winning argument in court. The Board isn’t typically under immediate obligation to reveal that the association is being sued unless your governing documents read differently. However, you will likely find mention of the lawsuit in previous Board Minutes as it has likely been discussed at length during previous Board meetings. Those records are available to all homeowners, although there may be a small fee to request and view them. As for the Board Members who joined the Board, resigned, and quickly sold their units, there may be cause for concern but without knowing what went on in their minds that made them choose that course of action, I can’t say. Losing a lawsuit doesn’t typically break and HOA’s budget and unless there is a very large lawsuit coming, I can’t imagine that their reason for selling was a pending lawsuit. Since it seems that there will be vacancies on the Board, have you considered getting involved? That would solve your community’s leadership problem and give you a seat at the table to see what is really going on. Other than that, neither you nor I will know exactly what the Board knows and it would likely be several months from the time a problem occurred until the unit owners are told. Your best strategy for early access to information comes from being on the Board or having a Board member tell you exactly what is going on. All the best!