I've lost my house in a recent California wild fire month and half ago - completely destroyed.
My house was a single unit detached house, belonging to the HOA.
The legal status is - a condominium with a separate interest, which includes a house and a yard. The grad deed says about that separate interest - house, year, airspace above.
I pay taxes for the land.
HOA rules of restrictions declares common area as
"Common Area" shall mean and refer to all portions of the Condominium property not located within a Living Unit or Yard.
My house has (had) a zero feet border.
Here is the problem.
The HOA does not want us to change anything - the house has to be built on exactly same footprint, same height, same dimensions, etc.
We want to move our house away 4ft from the border, according to the zoning regulations - to have more control in a case of emergency. Also, we want to make some changes in exterior, but keep overall look and feel of the old house. The footprint will be a bit different.
They have a lawyer, which sent us a letter, saying that the only thing, which we own, is a three dimensional size of our old house, everything else is a common area,
We believe, that is not true, since we have a separate interest in grand deed, their own rules of restrictions exclude house and yard from common area, plus we pay real estate taxes.
We're planning to sue them to confirm our rights, however they say that by California civil code 1369.510 et. seq. we obligated to enter a stage of negotiations, which could take up to 30 days to accept and another 90 days to negotiate.
1. Is there a chance, than they could be right - my area of separate interest, real estate taxes, etc is in fact a common area?
2. Is there a way to go directly to the court - bypass the negotiation stage?
3. What would be the best strategy to force them to comply with the law without long and expensive legal debates?
Second set of questions.
About a year ago, our HOA has partially stopped watering a hill behind our house - to save money.
The dry brush came as close to our border as 3ft. That was the main reason why our neighbor's houses and our house got burned. The fire did not get into the watered areas - only to our dried area.
As far as I understand, I can sue them for damages. However, I will not be able to estimate the amount of the loss, which will not be covered by insurance for another couple of months. By that time, most of the evidence will be gone (rainy season in San Diego).
Of course, I do have pictures and video of dry area and shut off sprinkler system.
1.Should I start the case immediately, or wait until I have an estimate of things not covered by insurance.
2. Can I open a case of criminal negligence - deliberately exposing some houses at high fire risk, if so, what would be the best approach to do so.
Thanks in advance.
Your help will be very much appreciated.