Access Denier Ends Up on the Hook for Association’s Legal Bills
Governing documents generally allow associations to enter individual units with proper notice for maintenance and emergency repair purposes. Owners don’t always cooperate, though, and sometimes associations have to go to court to gain access. The good news? As a case involving a California owners association demonstrates, they may be able to recover their costs for doing so.
Throughout February and March 2016, the association made repeated efforts to obtain access to Susan Winchester’s unit to assess a water leak causing damage in the unit below. Winchester wouldn’t allow it.
After litigation threats from the owner of the downstairs unit, the association again requested access in August 2016. Winchester didn’t respond or allow access. She also refused to provide a phone number or email address and insisted on communicating only by mail.
The association sued Winchester, requesting an order requiring access to assess and repair the plumbing issue. Not surprisingly, she attempted to dodge the lawsuit, as well. “We were forced to have a process server sit in the lobby and wait for her to come out to walk her dog in order to communicate with Ms. Winchester,” says Mitchell Brachman of the Los Angeles firm Kulik, Gottesman, Siegel & Ware LLP, who represented the association.
To learn where the case went from there and the lessons for other associations, read our new article: