QUESTION: Is it possible to partially turn off water for delinquent owners? For instance, can the association install turn-off valves for the unit so the deadbeat owner has some water but making it difficult for him to either bathe or do his dishes?
ANSWER: California's Supreme Court has determined that associations are "for all practical purposes" a landlord. (Francis T v. Village Green.) Under landlord-tenant law, landlords may not willfully cause, "directly or indirectly," the interruption or termination of utility service to a tenant's residence with the intent to terminate occupancy. Utilities covered include, but are not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, telephone, gas, elevators and refrigeration. (Civ. Code §789.3.) Cable TV does not qualify as a utility.
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