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Why can HOA not enter a vacant property even with owner's authorization? Nuisance alarms not HOA noise/quiet enjoyment issue?

Los Angeles, CA |

Smoke alarm in currently vacant home going off for nearly 48 hours (not just chirping). Owner lives overseas; rents property. FIre & Sheriff's Depts couldn't enter bcoz no emergency (smoke/fire).

Only HOA management had owner's contact info. Notified owner but clarified it wasn't an HOA issue.
CC&Rs contain queit enjoyment/nuisance prevention clauses. Alarm sound could be heard on the whole street/in homes.
HOA management said: "the HOA is responsible for common area only – EVEN IF AN OWNER GAVE US PERMISSION, legally we cannot enter their units without calling them to a hearing first."

What's the legal basis (if any) for their treating the noise disturbance as not an HOA issue & contending that even with owner consent, that they cannot 'legally' enter without hearing.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

If the property owner gives the HOA legal permission to enter his or her property then the HOA has the right to do so. Absent that permission, the HOA should not enter the property. In the scenario set forth above, I suspect the HOA did not want to do so for fear of being accused later of some wrongdoing. A loud alarm sounding for 48 hours rises to the level of a general nuisance which should have been dealt with by the association either by obtaining the owner's permission and entering the home or by contacting the alarm company to deactivate the alarm remotely.

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Posted

Thank you for your response. I too suspect that's the reason the HOA did not want to enter even with owner authorization. I cannot understand how the HOA treated the incident as not being an HOA issue, despite there being nuisance provision in the CC&Rs & though the alarm disturbed homeowners living on the entire street - am I missing a possible basis for not considering this a nuisance & therefore not an HOA issue?

Posted

Regardless of whether the HOA can go into the property, you are probably not going to be able to force them to do so. HOAs have discretion in how they enforce covenants and govern the association. An HOA is well within its rights to refuse to enter someone's home. This is certainly a frustrating situation and there may not be anything you can do to address the immediate problem of the running alarm. Try calling the city/county often enough and they may eventually find it to be an emergency. Good luck to you.

I hope that this answer helps you in a general sense, but it does not constitute legal advice, nor tax advice of any kind, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and myself or my firm.

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Posted

Thanks for the reply. I guess I was unclear but I realize that I cannot force them to do that & not trying to do so. Just wanted to understand how they "legally" cannot enter even with owner consent (as they say). I also realize they have discretion on "how" to enforce rules & govern. Does that discretion extend to determining that such noise disturbances like this is not an HOA issue, even in light of the quiet enjoyment/nuisance CC&Rs? The CC&R state that the Board "shall enforce the Declaration.." By treating the noise disturbance as a non-HOA issue is that not some sort of refusal to enforce the relevant CC&R?

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