Court Says Condo Owner Must Vacate Unit and Provide Key for Access
This case involved a dispute between condominium owners (“Owners”) and their homeowners association (“Association”) over Owners’ refusal to allow Association and its agent, a pest control company, access to Owners’ unit to perform necessary fumigation to treat termite infestation. Factually, after receiving notice from Association of the need to vacate their unit, Owner made arrangements to relocate during the period that their building was scheduled to be fumigated. Owner then attended a scheduled “fumigation preparation meeting” where she was requested to sign a document that not only agreed to temporarily vacate the unit, but also contained a provision whereby Owner agreed to turn over a copy of the key providing access to their unit to the pest management company. When Owner refused to agree to turn over a copy of her key, Association filed suit against Owner for breach of the CC&Rs, injunctive relief to compel compliance, and declaratory relief interpreting governing documents.
Association sought and obtained a preliminary injunction from the trial court which directed Owner to vacate the unit and to turn over a copy of the key providing access to the unit to Association so that Association could proceed with the scheduled fumigation of the building in which Owner’s unit was located. Owner then filed an appeal contending that the trial court abused its discretion in granting Association the preliminary injunction.
The appellate court stated that the Civil Code and the CC&Rs place the responsibility on the Association for the repair and maintenance of common areas that are infested with termites and that could only be possible with cooperation from the residents. The court found that Owner failed to present sufficient evidence to show what harm they would suffer by temporarily vacating their condominium or from delivering a copy of their key to the pest control management company. The court further found that Owners refusal to comply with the pest control company’s requests for a copy of the key to Owner’s unit and temporary removal from their unit would cause damage to Association by delaying fumigation, resulting in additional structural damage and contractual damages that would be owed to the pest control company of up to $1,100 per day for delay, and it undermined Association’s board’s authority and ability to fulfill its duties under the CC&Rs. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and further awarded attorney’s fees to Association.
UNPUBLISHED California Appellate Court decision (January 16, 2019).
See case decision: Windham_at_Carmel_Mountain_Ranch_Ass’n_v._Lacher_(Cal._App.,_2019)