An HOA pest infestation is a pesky problem that many associations encounter. When faced with such an issue, it is important for your HOA board to know how to manage it properly. Yet, one question commonly remains, “Who must shoulder the cost of pest exterminations?”
How to Handle an HOA Pest Infestation
No matter where you live, one way or another, you will run into a pest problem. It is something that many community associations go through. In single-family homes, residents deal with squirrels, rats, raccoons, termites, and roaches. Some communities even struggle with rabbit infestations, which can cause serious damage to flower gardens and landscaping.
On the other hand, condo associations often experience cockroaches, which can easily spread from unit to unit. These pests can even invade the common areas in your community.
These pests are more than just a nuisance, though. They pose serious health risks and can even damage the integrity of structures. While it is easy to hire a pest control service to take care of the problem, a common question many ask is, “Who will pay for it?” If the infestation solely originates from one property, should the owner of that property shoulder the costs? Or, does that responsibility fall on the association?
Does the HOA Cover Pest Control?
Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer to this question. The law varies from state to state. Therefore, you must first look to your state laws to know who should cover the cost of pest control services.
For instance, according to the California Civil Code Section 1364, unless the association’s governing documents say otherwise, the association must cover the cost of repairs and maintenance of common areas.
According to the same law, property owners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their separate interests as well as “exclusive use common area.”
Keep in mind that this California law only applies if your association lacks any provisions concerning the subject in your governing documents. As such, you must also check your CC&Rs and bylaws to see what responsibility belongs to whom.
Typically, though, the HOA is only responsible for common areas, such as lobbies, pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses.
Some associations have it in their declarations that whoever causes the pest infestation must cover the cost of services. However, the cause of pest infestations is not always clear. More often than not, there is no direct cause.
In the case of a resident-caused pest problem, though, the association must practice proper and thorough documentation. This way, your HOA board can send appropriate notices to the resident in question. Should the resident refuse to stop the behavior that caused the infestation, the association can take legal action.
Can Residents Deny HOA Pest Extermination?
Some residents refuse to let the HOA enter their units or homes to address pest problems. However, that does not mean the HOA board has no other options. For such scenarios, your association must again turn to state laws to learn what you have the right to do.
In Illinois, for instance, owners have no right to bar the HOA from entering their unit for pest extermination. Of course, the board must first send reasonable notice beforehand. Additionally, the purpose of the entry must be for maintenance.
In Colorado, on the other hand, it depends. For single-family houses and townhomes, the law states that the association does not possess the right to enter units. For condominiums, though, Colorado law grants associations an easement to enter units for the purpose of handling pests. Should a condo unit owner refuse, the association can get a court order and charge the cost of the court order to the owner.
Can Residents Choose Which Materials to Use?
In some cases, a resident may allow the HOA to enter their unit but refuse the chemicals used to address the HOA pest infestation. If the resident is allergic or has a condition prohibiting the use of a certain chemical, the association must adjust to their request.
Relocation Due to HOA Pest Control
HOA pest infestations can sometimes grow to an uncontrollable state that requires fumigation. This can pose another problem in that the resident must find other accommodations while their unit undergoes the fumigation process. In terms of who should pay for the relocation expenses, the law also varies from state to state.
California law, for instance, states that the association may cover the relocation expenses if fumigation or other measures must take place. More often than not, residents are open to the possibility of temporary relocation provided the association pays for it. Residents get to enjoy a free mini-vacation and return to a pest-free home as well.
Amending Governing Documents to Address Pests in HOA Community
If your state does not have any laws pertaining to HOA pest infestations, you must check your governing documents to know what rights the association has. Unfortunately, not all associations cover such topics in their CC&Rs.
To avoid running into problems, consider amending your CC&Rs to address the proper way to handle these issues. Make sure to seek advice from your HOA attorney to prevent conflicts with existing declarations and laws.
It is also equally important to get input from members of your community. Collaboration and communication are paramount to amending your governing documents.
Prevention Is Better Than the Cure
An HOA pest infestation is detrimental to any community, which is why your HOA board must act fast to address the problem head-on. A good way to avoid pest infestations is to hire professionals to conduct inspections on a regular basis.
If you already have a pest problem, it is essential to hire an extermination service to prevent it from spiraling out of control. Keep in mind, though, that state laws may dictate what your association has a right to do and which party must cover various expenses.
If your HOA is having trouble navigating the ins and outs of pest infestations, consider turning to a management company for help. Feel free to contact us online, call us at (877) 252-3327, or email us.
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