QUESTION: A growing phenomenon in our community and others nearby is for operators to purchase homes to use as "sober living" facilities for individuals recovering from alcohol or drug issues. Can associations prohibit them?
ANSWER: As with day care homes for children, the legislature has overridden association restrictions. As a result, associations cannot prohibit owners or tenants from operating an alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility which serves six or fewer persons. (H&S Code §11834.23.) The same is true for licensed non-medical alcohol and drug treatment facilities--homes that provide one or more of the following services: detoxification; educational sessions; and recovery or treatment planning.
Challenges. A sober living facility can represent challenges involving the following:
- rules violations
- parking violations and guest parking problems
- smoking in the common areas
- excessive and unsupervised use of recreational facilities
- requests for extra keys and vehicle stickers
- harassment and intimidation of staff and residents
- security problems and criminal activity
- excessive noise
Recommendation: Because of the many protections afforded sober living homes, boards should not tackle these issues without first consulting with legal counsel.
Related. Also see: group care homes and day care centers.
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