Q: There is a home in our community that is rarely occupied. An alarm has been going off for over a week now. We do not have a good phone number for the homeowner, so we cannot contact them. The alarm is annoying the immediate neighbors and causing constant complaints. The residents want the HOA to enter the home and shut the alarm off. Is this legal, and do we have any other options?
A: If the HOA can determine which security company is monitoring the home (if any), that company should be contacted and perhaps they can reach the homeowner or make other arrangements to temporarily deactivate the alarm. Otherwise, the HOA’s legal counsel should review the Declaration for legal authority to enter the home, deactivate the alarm, and assess the home for the costs of doing so. In well-drafted HOA documents, the association is generally given the right to enter each lot to take corrective action in the event of a violation. These are generally known as “self help” provisions, and they can be very useful particularly if the home is vacant or abandoned and there is a serious violation. If the HOA does not have these provisions, the HOA will be taking a greater risk by entering the property and should consult with its legal counsel on potential alternatives.