Renter Rights

Membership in the Association
Association membership status is coupled with having an ownership interest in a lot or condominium within the association’s development. (Civ. Code § 4160.) The majority of the rights granted to members under the association’s governing documents or the Davis-Stirling Act therefore do not extend to renters, nor may they be validly transferred to renters. The following table illustrates what membership rights may be transferred from an owner to a renter; information in the table is discussed further below.

Right Transferrable to Renter
Attend Board Meetings No
Attend Membership Meetings No
Dispute Resolution (IDR & ADR) No
Have Pets Possible
Inspect Association Records Possible
Serve on the Board Possible
Standing to Sue Association No
Use of Common Area Amenities Yes (typically mandatory)
Vote No

Rights Transferred to Renters

  • Use of Common Area Amenities – When owners lease their units to renters, they transfer their rights of use and enjoyment of the association’s common area amenities to their renters. Most sets of association governing documents contain provisions that require an owner to surrender those rights for so long as his property is being leased out to a renter. California courts have upheld the validity of such restrictions and the authority that associations have to enforce them. (Liebler v. Point Loma Tennis Club (1995) 40 Cal.App. 4th 1600, 1610.)
  • Inspect Association Records (*Possible) – Various association records must be made available for inspection by members within certain time periods. (Civ. Code § 5205; See also “Member Record Inspection Rights.”) Renters do not have the right to request records; however, if a member issues a valid request to inspect and copy specified association records, the member may also “designate another person” (i.e., a renter) “to inspect and copy the specified records on the member’s behalf.” (Civ. Code § 5205(b).)
  • Serve on the Board (*Possible) – Most sets of association governing documents allow only members of the association to serve on its board of directors. (See “Director Qualifications.”) Where such restrictions are absent from the governing documents, there may be circumstances where a renter may be eligible to serve as a director and ultimately be elected to the board.
  • Have Pets (*Possible) – Civil Code Section 4715 grants “owners” within an association the right to keep and maintain at least one (1) pet within their respective units. (See “Pet Restrictions.”) However, Section 4715 makes no mention of whether that right also extends to renters. The degree to which an association may legally prohibit renters’ pets is ambiguous.

Rights Which Are Not Transferred

  • Attend Board Meetings – Unless otherwise provided in an association’s governing documents, only members have the legal right to attend board meetings, as well as the right to address the board during open forum. (Civ. Code § 4925.)
  • Attend Membership Meetings – Membership meetings are limited to the association’s members. (Civ. Code § 5000.) A member may not have a tenant attend a membership meeting as the member’s proxy, as a proxy may only be given to another member. (Civ. Code § 5130(a)(1).)
  • Voting – A tenant may not be given the right to vote on behalf of a member, as proxies may only be given to other members of the association. (Civ. Code § 5130(a)(1).)
  • Dispute Resolution – The dispute resolution procedures (i.e., IDR and ADR) which may be employed by an association’s members do not extend to their renters. (Civ. Code §§ 5900(a), 5910, 5930(a).)
  • Standing to Sue Association – As provided for in Civil Code Section 5975, an association’s governing documents may be enforced by either the association or an “owner of a separate interest.” In Martin v. Bridgeport Community Association, the California Court of Appeal explicitly addressed this issue and held that renters do not have standing to sue an association for breach of its CC&Rs and violations of the Davis-Stirling Act, despite the fact that the owner had executed a power of attorney to his renters to handle matters relating to the owner’s property:

“…the right of enforcement is inextricable from ownership of real property…and thus, cannot be assigned absent a transfer of ownership of the parcel to which it applies…

…Not being owners and, therefore, having no authority to enforce the CC&Rs…[the renters] do not have standing to maintain the cause of action.” (Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1036 and 1038.) 

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Related Topics

Related Statutes

Related Case Law

  • Liebler v. Point Loma Tennis Club
    (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 1600

    [Operating Rules; Non-Resident Use] A HOA may create and enforce a rule excluding non-resident owners from use of the HOA’s common area recreational facilities.

  • Martin v. Bridgeport Community Association
    (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024

    [CC&R Enforcement; Renter Standing] The right to enforce CC&Rs is tied to ownership in a property; renters do not have standing to sue a HOA for a violation of its CC&Rs.