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What is the Davis-Stirling Act?

The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act is the common name of the portion of the California Civil Code beginning with section 1350 which governs condominium, cooperative, and planned unit development communities in California.

It was enacted in 1985 by the California State Legislature. Under Davis-Stirling, a developer of a common interest development is able to create a homeowners' association (a HOA) to govern the development. As part of creating the HOA, the developer records a document known as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) against the units or parcels within the HOA with the county recorder.

Even though it is not a governmental entity, the HOA operates like one in some respects. As recognized by the Supreme Court of California, the declaration of CC&Rs are the constitution of the HOA and are legally binding upon residents as long as they do not conflict with state or federal law. CC&Rs, once properly recorded, are presumed valid until proven otherwise. The HOA's board may also enact rules which are legally binding upon residents as long as they do not conflict with the CC&Rs or state or federal law.

Board meetings, like the boards of government agencies, are generally open to HOA members, with some exceptions. The HOA is also allowed to charge regular fees to homeowners within the development (comparable to taxes). These are used for functions like paying for security guards (including, for gated communities, the operation of a gatehouse) and maintaining common areas like corridors, walkways, parking, landscaping, swimming pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, and so on. The HOA can levy fines or sue homeowners for damages and/or injunctive relief to enforce the HOA's rules and CC&Rs.

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