Disclosing Discipline
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DISCLOSING DISCIPLINARY ACTION

QUESTION: When a homeowner files a complaint against a neighbor for a violation of the governing documents, is that homeowner allowed to know the results of any disciplinary action?

ANSWER
: Members do not have a "right" to know the results. Unlike the public court system where almost every detail of every criminal and civil action can be published, HOA disciplinary actions are held in executive session and minutes or other documents related to the disciplinary action are not subject to review by the membership. (Civ. Code §4950, Civ. Code §5215(a)(5)(B).)

Reported Generally. Even so, it is allowable to report in open meeting minutes and in the association's newsletter generic information. For example, "During the month of April, disciplinary hearings were held on the following violations: (i) dog not on a leash that resulted in a warning, (ii) nuisance noise from a late night party that resulted in a fine of $75, and (iii) a parking violation that resulted in a fine of $50." This kind of reporting keeps the membership informed without identifying the persons involved.

Possible Exception to Privacy.
If the person being disciplined represents a foreseeable threat to the community, the board may have a duty to warn the membership. For example, a member who likes to set small fires in the common areas or has been vandalizing properties. That duty may be satisfied by publishing the board's findings in the newsletter. Boards should consult with their legal counsel on such issues.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC