Not All HOA Bylaws Are Etched in Stone

Many people who live in housing developments are required to join homeowners associations. A homeowners association is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of any common areas, such as swimming pools, tennis courts and other recreational areas. They might also mow your lawn, shovel snow and keep your sidewalks in good repair. You pay HOA fees every month in order to contribute to this type of care. With the HOA fees come bylaws, which you are required to obey when you live in the housing development or association. Some of these bylaws are common sense. For example, you might be prohibited from painting your house a loud or bright color that reflects poorly on the rest of the neighborhood. There might be regulations about how you are expected to keep your lawn maintained, or how often you should trim shrubs and hedges. The HOA will provide you with a copy of the bylaws regularly so you can keep up with updated. Keep in mind that not all HOA bylaws are etched in stone. You might be able to talk the association into an exception if you can present your case well.

Many HOAs like to take their authority a little too seriously. Homeowners who live within the jurisdiction of the HOA do have to agree to live by the set of rules and regulations established for the common good, but it’s always possible to ask for an exception or explain why a rule needs to be bent or broken. Many HOAs will be concerned that if they allow one resident to break the rules, all the homeowners in the neighborhood will be lining up to receive special treatment. However, it’s worth a try. For example, if you want to place a sign in your front yard during election season, but signs are not allowed according to your HOA bylaws, talk to the association about a compromise. Maybe you will be permitted to post the sign for one week before the election. Alternatively, you could post a sign in one of the windows of your home instead of in the lawn. Most HOAs have a board, and if you can get one board member on your side, you’ll have a shot.

Talk to other residents as well. Perhaps you want to plant a tree in your front yard but the branches would hang over the street, causing the HOA to complain or try and prevent you from planting the tree. If you take your case to your neighbors and demonstrate how the tree will provide extra shade, which is beneficial to everyone in the summertime, you might have a shot. Showing up to an HOA meeting with a team of concerned neighbors who want more trees can position you to get what you want, regardless of what the bylaws say.

If there is something in your HOA bylaws that is causing a problem for you, approach the topic reasonably. Don’t act combative or confrontational. Ask the HOA what you need to do in order to appeal for an exception. Get support from other residents. While the bylaws are agreed upon by all of you, they are not necessarily inflexible and etched in stone.

This post was written for Schorr Law’s Los Angeles Real Estate Blog by Stephen K Hachey. Stephen is a real estate lawyer specializing in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosure and much more. He is also the owner of his own practice, the Law Offices of Stephen Hachey, PA. This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on Mr. Hachey’s services, please visit his website at hacheylawpa.com.

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The Most Common Types of Real Estate Disputes in Los Angeles

Over the last decade the real estate attorneys at Schorr Law have been focusing on real estate disputes.  One of the most frequent questions we get are the most common types of real estate disputes.  While this result is by no means scientific, we have seen almost everything you can imagine, including disputes over interests in land outside of California, but here is a list of the most common types of real estate disputes we see in Los Angeles County and Southern California:

1.  Commercial Leasing Disputes

2.  Residential Purchase and Sale Disputes

3.  Commercial Purchase and Sale Disputes

4.   Commercial Guarantee Litigation

5.  Partition Actions (ownership disputes)

6.  Quiet Title Actions

7.  Landlord Tenant Disputes

8.  Mortgage Litigation

9. Construction Disputes

10.  Specific Performance

11.  Enforcement of Judgment (selling real property to satisfy judgments)

12.  Easement Disputes

We have experience in all of these areas. Keep in mind with the changing economy the nature of the disputes have changed.  In the bustling economy we saw a spike in ownership disputes where owners were fighting over equity, that was following by an influx of guarantee litigation.  By focusing on real estate matters, our Los Angeles based real estate attorneys gain insight and experience that the generalist simply cannot obtain.

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Post Judgment Collection in Los Angeles

As Los Angeles based real estate attorneys one of the necessary aspects of any case we file is determining whether or not it is collectible. After all, it is one thing to get a judgment (which is just a piece of paper) while it is another thing to actually collect on the judgment. So, for all of the disputes we handle, we put an emphasis at the start of the case on the ability to collect on a judgment. Some of the things that we do is to do an asset search for both real and personal property. If there are collectible assets then during the case we can even consider filing for a writ of attachment (available in certain types of cases) to put a lien on the assets pre-judgment to make sure that the assets are still there post-judgment.

We also utilize our experience with real property matters to put liens on real property. Perhaps the easiest lien to put on real property post-judgment is an abstract of judgment. The abstract of judgment then becomes the first step to a potential foreclosure on the property (execution on the judgment lien) via a sheriff’s sale. We find, where there is sufficient equity in the property, that a post-judgment sheriff’s sale is an effective way to collect on the judgment through a sale or through the serious pressure that we place on the debtor through the threat of losing a home or business.  The post-judgment lien or abstract of judgment can be placed on a judgment debtor’s real property regardless of whether the underlying dispute involved that property.

For more information with judgment collection in Southern California, contact us at 310-954-1877, info@schorr-law.com, www.schorr-law.com.

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More Los Angeles County Court Closings

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting article today about a recent announcement of the closing of 10 court houses in Los Angeles County.  You can find the article at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-court-cuts-20121115,0,4405776.story.   What does this mean?  Is the court system going to slow down even further?

In my experience many of the “regional” Courthouses, like Malibu, have not handled unlimited civil litigation (matters over $25,000) for a long time.  In our real estate practice, which necessarily requires us to file complaints in the judicial district where the property at issue is located, we rarely found ourselves in the Court houses that are closing.  For example, most disputes in West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City wind up being handled at the Santa Monica Court House and have been handled there for many years.

That said, it is always interesting to the see how these cuts play out once they are implemented.

Posted in Civil Litigation | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Tune in on November 23, 2012 for Attorney Zachary Schorr’s Appearance on the Dr. Phil Show

On Friday, November 23, 2012 (the day after Thanksgiving), Los Angeles based real estate attorney Zachary D. Schorr will appear on the nationally televised Dr. Phil Show.  The Dr. Phil Show asked Mr. Schorr to appear on the show as a featured real estate attorney expert to talk about an adverse possession matter that Dr. Phil’s guests faced. Dr. Phil’s guests were a family from Colorado whose home was taken over by people who were essentially squatters. Dr. Phil asked Mr. Schorr to comment on the guests situation and the interplay between adverse possession, squatters’ rights (tenant’s rights) and the possessor’s bankruptcy.

For more information or for a free consultation on your real estate matter, contact Schorr Law, APC, www.schorr-law.com, info@schorr-law.com, 310-954-1877.

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An Uphill Battle: Seeking Relief from Terminating Sanctions

Last June, Schorr Law obtained terminating sanctions against a plaintiff who had sued Schorr Law’s client based on various landlord tenant matters relating to habitability and other real estate related issues.  After a number of discovery abuses, we obtained terminating sanctions against the Plaintiff.   Nearly six months later,Plaintiff’s counsel filed a motion for relief from terminating sanctions under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b) – based on an attorney affidavit of fault.

Even though terminating sanctions are rare, Schorr Law has obtained against at least 4 different parties in the past few years.  After a terminating sanctions order – which enters a defendant’s default or strike’s a complaint, the opposing attorney typically comes forward to fall on their sword with a motion for relief from the terminating sanctions order via Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b).  Each time, Schorr Law has successfully defeated these motions and kept the terminating sanctions award in tact.    This happened again just over a week ago.

Anyway, there is authority for denying 473(b) relief from terminating sanctions after repeated discovery abuses.  The relief is not mandatory in those situations.

For more information, contact us at Schorr Law, APC, info@schorr-law.com, 310-954-1877.

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Los Angeles Real Estate Attorney: Real Estate Non-Disclosure/Fraud Step 6 – Damages

The final step to resolving a non-disclosure or fraud case is actually proceeding with the litigation or the arbitration.  Litigation is long, complicated and not easily navigated without the assistance of a qualified attorney.

At some point in time, your will have to consider your damages – the amount you are seeking to make up for the non-disclosure.  The general measure of damages for real estate non-disclosure matters in the State of California is the difference between the price you paid at the time of purchase and the actual fair market value of the property at the time you purchased it had you received full disclosure of the item that you now claim the seller or the seller’s agent failed to disclose.

Figuring out this damages number is generally accomplished through the use of an expert.   In many of our cases, we retain an expert appraiser who can does a retroactive appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property at the time it was purchased if the knowing buyer was informed about the issue that was not disclosed.  For example, in one of our past cases, we alleged that the seller had committed fraud by failing to disclose that the vacant land that seller sold to our clients was able to be built upon.  In that case, in order to determine the damages, we had to retain an expert appraiser to opine about the fair market value of the property at the time it was sold to our clients had our clients been told that the vacant land could not be built upon.

There are, of course, other ways to evaluate damages beyond the use of an expert appraiser.  The real estate attorneys at Schorr Law have experience with non-disclosure and real estate fraud matters throughout Southern California.  For help with your non-disclosure matter and to obtain a free 30 minute consultation, contact us, www.schorr-law.com, info@schorr-law.com, 310-954-1877, info@schorr-law.com

Posted in Civil Litigation, Real Estate, Real Estate Litigation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment