Can the HOA Restrict Access to Our Rented Condo?

We recently rented a condo that is part of an HOA. We moved in February 1. Now the landlord is getting letters from HOA stating that per her CC&R she was only able to rent a portion of the condo out and needed to live there. They are now telling her she needs to remedy the situation. Well if she knew that why did she lease to a family of 5. We signed a one year lease. Plus she just graduated from college and got a job in a different city (the commute was hard and because of the market she would lose money if she sold). So she rented it out. Now she is saying she will come stay in one of the rooms 4 days a month so as not to be in violation. Although I don’t love the solution will this suffice? What rights do I have? Can an HOA do that? We are in CA. In addition the HOA president is now refusing to give the gate code to any of the owners. Can they do that?

HOAs often have requirements for owner-occupancy, in order to prevent too many units from being rented. This is something that your landlord certainly should have been aware of when she bought the property.

Unless you’re looking forward to the rather unusual situation of sharing the space with her (at, I assume, a substantially reduced rent), you’re looking at moving at this point. I would certainly take the position that you aren’t bound by the lease, since your landlord didn’t give you what she promised (possession of the entire unit), so you shouldn’t be responsible for rent beyond the time you’re actually there. Further, given that she should have known about this problem, it would be reasonable to expect her to cover your extra moving expenses.

And a word of advice for next time: If you’re renting a condo, take a look at the CC&Rs yourself before you sign the lease. Most aren’t quite so draconian, but there still may be some rules and regulations you would want to know about.