Those who have been involved with homeowners associations know that they often deal with all kinds of technical legal issues and potential lawsuits involving the properties that they are helping to manage. In theory, homeowners associations are designed to help protect the interests of their members. Consistent with this purpose, the California Legislator has carved out certain instances where a homeowners association has standing to sue on behalf of its members.
In order to file a lawsuit, a party must be the “real party in interest”. (CCP § 367.) However, statutory exceptions exist allowing another party to file a lawsuit on behalf of the “real party in interest”. One of these statutory exceptions allows homeowners associations or apartment owners associations to file a lawsuit, on behalf of its members, against a third party, as long as the organization’s claim falls under at least one of four categories. Pursuant to California Civil Code section 5980, an association that is organized to manage common interest developments may institute litigation on behalf of the development, in matters pertaining to (1) enforcement of the governing documents, (2) damage to the common area, (3) damage to a separate interest that the association is obligated to maintain or repair or, (4) damage to a separate interest that arises out of, or is integrally related to, damage to the common area or a separate interest that the association is obligated to maintain or repair. (Civ. C. § 5980.) In essence, an association has standing to sue where the purported damages to its members will, ultimately, result in losses to the homeowners association itself.
We have experience representing a wide array of parties in disputes involving real estate.
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