This is probably the most common question that clients ask us when they come to LS Carlson Law for help with their HOAs. And we generally give them all the same answer—in most cases, yes.
In fact, as is discussed below, not only are homeowners entitled to their attorneys’ fees and costs once they win a lawsuit filed against (or by) their HOAs, but a good HOA attorney can often ensure that homeowners are paid their attorneys’ fees even before a lawsuit is ever filed (i.e., during pre-litigation mediation), as well as during the pendency of a lawsuit if the case settles (which the vast majority do).
Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) in California are governed by the Davis-Stirling Act, a series of statutes located in the Civil Code (although there are sections of other laws, such as those found in the Corporations Code, that also apply to HOAs).
There are multiple sections of the Davis-Stirling Act that entitle homeowners to recover their attorneys’ fees after winning lawsuits involving their HOAs. For example, a homeowner might sue his/her HOA to enforce the HOA’s governing documents. “Enforcing the governing documents,” can, however, mean a lot of things, such as forcing the HOA to maintain the common areas, hold required open meetings, provide proper notice of meetings, or repair damage to a homeowner’s property. Likewise, sometimes “enforcing the governing documents” can mean challenging an unfair decision by the board (e.g., preventing a homeowner from making an improvement to his/her property), stopping the board from treating certain homeowners differently than others, or wrongfully using community funds.