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Dispute Resolution with Homeowners Associations: The Davis-Stirling Act Civil Code § 5930-5935

Dispute Resolution with Homeowners Associations

Disputes with Homeowners Associations (HOAs) can be complex. Understanding your rights under the Davis-Stirling Act Cal Civil Code § 5930-5935 can empower you to take the proper legal steps, including drafting a letter to your HOA to initiate dispute resolution or hiring an attorney.

Key Provisions

The Davis-Stirling Act lays out specific requirements for dispute resolution:

  1. Pre-Litigation IDR (Internal Dispute Resolution): Good faith participation in IDR is required before filing a civil action.
  2. Pre-Litigation ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution): Endeavoring to submit a dispute to ADR is necessary for certain types of relief.
  3. Initiating a Request for ADR: Detailed guidelines must be followed, including serving a Request for Resolution containing specific elements.
  4. Deadline to Respond: A 30-day deadline to accept or reject the request.
  5. Refusal to Participate: Unreasonable refusal can influence the court’s award of attorneys’ fees.

Hypothetical Situation

Imagine a homeowner, Mrs. Johnson, who disagrees with her HOA over an assessment charge. Below is how she could navigate the Davis-Stirling Act’s requirements:

  1. Draft a Request for Resolution: Mrs. Johnson writes a detailed letter to her HOA (see the Sample ADR Request Form) outlining the dispute and requesting ADR.
  2. Send the Request: Service of the request must be done via personal delivery, first-class mail, or other means providing actual notice.
  3. Wait for a Response: The HOA has 30 days to accept or reject the request.
  4. Consider Professional Help: If the process becomes complex, Mrs. Johnson can hire an attorney to assist her.

How to Draft a Letter to Your HOA

Here’s a simplified guide to drafting a letter for initiating ADR with your HOA:

  1. Describe the Dispute: Clearly outline the nature of the disagreement.
  2. Request ADR: State your wish to engage in alternative dispute resolution.
  3. Include the Required Notice: Specify that the HOA has 30 days to respond or the request will be deemed rejected.
  4. Attach a Copy of the Article: If you are the member, include a copy of the applicable laws or this article.
  5. Choose the Right Service Method: Follow the appropriate delivery method under Civil Code § 5935(b).


Understanding the Davis-Stirling Act’s requirements empowers homeowners to engage in dispute resolution with their HOAs properly. Drafting a letter to initiate the process is a manageable task, but hiring an attorney could be a wise step if the dispute becomes complex.

For personalized assistance, please consult with a qualified real estate attorney who specializes in HOA Law.