Filing Complaints

Filing complaints against an HOA or one of its vendors
Tulare County Courthouse (1876)
Tulare County Courthouse (1876)


Depending on the nature of the issue, homeowners can file complaints again their association or one of its vendors with city or county government, with state or federal agencies, or with a trade association like the Better Business Bureau.  Filing a complaint means you are asking a government entity or trade association to help you resolve the complaint.


Filing a complaint is not the same as going to court, but you will have to have your facts assembled as though you were going to court: you will have to assemble the names of parties involved, dates of events, documents sent and received by you; personal notes and emails; statements by witnesses; and any relevant association documents. 


Having your facts assembled before you file a complaint enables the agency to deal with it more quickly, though keep in mind that the agencies listed below receive hundreds of complaints a week.  [If you decide to file in small claims court, click on the Small Claims Court link on CCHAL's Home page.]


It is essential that, when you file a complaint with a local, state or federal agency that you ALSO


  • copy your complaint to both your state senator and your state assembly representative AND
  • copy the Center for California Homeowner Association Law ATTN: Complaints Desk AND
  • follow up with phone calls to the agency you are filing the complaint with;  you will have to be persistent and patient; AND
  • follow up with a phone call to your legislators.  If you are uncertain about how to do this, call the CCHAL office; AND
  • Keep copies of all your complaint documents


Complaints from the homeowner-consumer fall into two broad categories:

1.  Complaints arising during the time that the developer controls the association or that he is transferring control of the association to homeowners who have putchased homes in the subdivision (or condominium.)  This is often the time that homeowners:

  • complain about construction defects;
  • question whether or not the developer has under-funded the reserve accounts (or not funded them at all)
  • question whether the develop is delivering common areas and amenities as promised in the subdivision public report, marketing materials, and purchase contracts

2.  Complaints arising over governance issues after homeowners assume control of the association.  Complaints include:

  • homeowner difficulty in getting access to association records, especially financial records
  • challenges to election procedures and results
  • complaints over assessment collection and foreclosure

[For a broad description of these two categories of complaints, see "Common Interest Developments: Housing at Risk?" California Research Bureau, August 2002, available online at  There are gaps and inconsistencies in this report, but it does still contain some useful data and observations about governance.]

To read the rest of this article about FILING COMPLAINTS and which agencies receive complaints, please SIGN UP as a Contributing Member and create a password.   Here's the link describing all the Contributing Member benefits in addition to this article:

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