Enforcement of Association Rule Violations Against Homebuyers

Question: We recently purchased a Glendale home with a large backyard for our two German Shepherds. Both of our German Shepherds are more than 10 years old and are not the least bit aggressive, and are more like the Cowardly Lion. When we bought our home, the escrow company gave us a “book” of CC&Rs, but we never had any time to review them. Yesterday, we received a notice from our HOA that our CC&Rs prohibit dogs over 40 pounds, and that we need to meet with the HOA Board of Directors. We are terrified that we will have to either place our German Shepherds in a kennel or sell our home. Do we have any arguments that we could make at the HOA Board of Directors meeting?

Answer: The underlying problem is that CC&Rs in the last 50 years have changed drastically in length and complexity. From 50 years ago when CC&Rs were 2-3 pages with less than 20 paragraphs, to today when CC&Rs are typically at least 40-60 pages with hundreds of paragraphs and sub-paragraphs.

The standard AAR Purchase Contract (“Purchase Contract”), lines 123-132, only allows a buyer five days after receipt of the CC&Rs from the escrow company to provide written notice of cancellation of the Purchase Contract because of disapproval of the CC&Rs. During this same five-day time period, however, most buyers are trying to arrange home inspections and financing, and rarely have the time to thoroughly review the CC&Rs. In your situation, however, unless there have been problems with large dogs in your HOA community, most HOAs will try to work with you as “innocent” homeowners, e.g., you agree to keep your two German Shepherds in your backyard and not take them on the streets within the community, even on a leash.

Note: CC&Rs are private regulations governing a community, and are generally enforceable against all homeowners in that community, unless there is a Fair Housing violation or other violation of state or federal law.

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