Responding to process servers is often a problem for associations with employees stationed at the entry gate of a homeowner association or at the front desk of a condominium highrise. Some associations simply throw away legal documents which have been "dropped" in their laps even though the documents are intended for a resident. This can create liability for the association if the resident suffers adverse consequences as a result of the association's failure to forward the documents.
Authorized Personnel. As provided for in Section 415.21 of the Civil Code, associations must allow process servers onto the property if they identify the person they intend to serve, display a driver's license or other identification, and provide evidence that they are a:
- county sheriff,
- registered process server, or
- licensed private investigator.
Substitute Service. If an association is gated and has a manned guard gate, substitute served on the guard may be appropriate. In Bein v. Brechtel-Jochim, a process server made three separate attempts to serve a party at their residence. Each time, the gate guard denied access. The court held that substitute service was appropriate. This does not apply to associations with unmanned security systems. To qualify, the substitute services must be on a guard.
Recommendation: Associations with manned security gates or buildings with front desk personnel should adopt a policy regarding process servers.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.