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Invalid Restriction. Older documents sometimes have restrictions that limited occupancy to persons related by blood, adoption or marriage. Such restrictions are no longer enforceable. (City of Chula Vista v. Pagard (1981) 115 Cal.App.3d 785.)

Family Defined. Many municipalities have adopted a broad definition of "family" to include unrelated persons. For example, San Diego defines a family as:

two or more persons related through blood, marriage or legal adoption... or unrelated persons who jointly occupy and have equal access to all areas of a dwelling unit and who function together as an integrated economic unit. (San Diego Mun. Code, § 113.0103.)

In addition, a number of California cases have struck down attempts to limit the number of unrelated people from living together as one household. [See City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson (1980) 27 Cal.3d 123.] If limitations on occupancy are based on the number of occupants rather than the definition of family, they are generally enforceable. [City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc. (1995) 514 US 725.]

Room Rentals. Owners cannot use the broad definition of "family" as an excuse to engage in room rental commercial activity.

ASSISTANCE: Before taking action against occupants based on familial status, boards should seek legal counsel. Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

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