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an arrest, or nothing at all. In some cases, this may start a positive process where an individual is connected with family or mental health professionals. In others, it may result in the individual simply being detained and released hours later due to limited resources being available. In any case, it is important to initiate contact with law enforcement, both to establish the reasonable care on the part of the association and de-escalate any immediate threats.

If individuals in the community are feeling threatened, they should be advised of their right to seek an order of protection or an anti-harassment order. An association cannot do this on their behalf, as the corporation generally does not have standing in such an action. Most superior court websites have instructions and forms to guide individuals through the process. Boards of directors should recommend to residents who report feeling threatened that  appropriate protection with the courts.

CHECK YOUR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS Once the association has determined whether immediate law enforcement

intervention is necessary and has taken appropriate action, the board should now look to its governing documents for guidance, and can determine whether to take formal action, informal action, or both. Typically, there are a few provisions in the governing documents that may apply.

First, as mentioned before, is authority to assess a unit owner for damages arising from misconduct. In most cases, this refers to property damage. However, some provisions are broader, and extend to any fees and costs arising from misconduct, including attorney’s fees if they are necessary.

Second, nearly every association’s governing documents contain a prohibition against illegal, noxious or offensive activity. Threatening or antagonistic behavior likely violates this provision and represents a violation of the governing

22 Community Associations Journal | November/December 2019

documents. Similarly, most governing documents have a complementary provision guaranteeing every owner and residents right to quiet enjoyment of their units and the common elements. These provisions have been interpreted to protect owners and residents from behavior that violates the noxious and offensive activities clause.


An association’s board of directors has an obligation to reasonably enforce its governing documents. Where conduct

violates the governing documents, the board must act in reasonable good faith to respond to that conduct, including  an opportunity to be heard). In some cases, an owner is unaware of what is happening in the unit. The notice of  occupant to a more appropriate residence where they have better access to support. In cases where the resident may  similar arrangement, sending a warning notice may spur action on behalf of a third-party to work with the resident to resolve the problem.

 At that point, a board of directors may need to determine  particular for a mandatory injunction. In some rare cases, a court has determined that conduct is so inconsistent with living in a community association that it issued an order preventing an individual from occupying a unit or using the common elements. This is an extreme and unusual result.


Because a formal legal proceeding is expensive and the result unpredictable, associations may also consider whether to

engage in informal solutions while pursuing reasonable enforcement of their governing documents. This may include reaching out to families of individual residents who are experiencing mental health issues. Often families are  individual to seek appropriate care.

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