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HOA Liability Dark Area of Community

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Pedas2

Junior Member
What is the name of your state?Arizona

Two past state Supreme Court Cases (one in AZ and one in CA) declared that an HOA has a duty like that of a landlord in providing safe conditions on common property.

Martinez vs Woodmar IV Condominium Association

Frances T. vs Village Green Owners Association

There is a dark area of our community that has needed a streetlight for many years. Past landscape committees have recommended a light on that street, but it never went anywhere because a vocal minority had allies on past Boards. A new Board is elected and installs a streetlight. So much improvement in illumination! When one looks at before and after pictures, you cannot deny there was a problem before and the new streetlight has solved the problem without shining light into any unit's bedrooms.

Should this vocal minority were to get elected to the Board and remove the streetlight, based on those two cases (I am in AZ, so the first would definitely apply to me) if a crime occurred on that dark street after the light was removed, a homeowner could definitely sue the HOA and perhaps Board members personally and win a negligence case.

If a crime did not occur, would a homeowner have any liability claim or any other type of legal claim (discrimination) against the HOA for removing the streetlight?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Even if a crime DOES occur, if there was no prior history of crime in the area, any claim might not be successful. It would defend on the facts.
A homeowner (or anyone else) won't have any type of civil claim against the HOA once the streetlight is removed except if they are somehow injured and the injury would have been prevented but for the absence of the light. I'm not sure why you think there may be a discrimination claim here...

Conjecture, at this point, is useless. It's all hypothetical.
 

Pedas2

Junior Member
I have received email announcements of crimes that have occurred in areas (streets) of the community with adequate lighting. The discrimination case would be due to the Board discriminating against people on a street that clearly needed more light---before and after photos show a pitch black street vs one that's adequately illuminated.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I have received email announcements of crimes that have occurred in areas (streets) of the community with adequate lighting.
Then why do you believe that the lighting is going to prevent crime?
The discrimination case would be due to the Board discriminating against people on a street that clearly needed more light
That is not a protected class.
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
if a crime occurred on that dark street after the light was removed, a homeowner could definitely sue the HOA and perhaps Board members personally and win a negligence case.
I did not reach that conclusion by reading the decision:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8637562785490491055&q=martinez+v+woodmar+iv+condominiums&hl=en&as_sdt=4,3

While the court agreed that the HOA has a duty to protect residents, lessees and guests, note that the court went to great lengths to explain

we look at whether sufficient evidence of foreseeability and possible prevention was presented to create a genuine issue of material fact. In the response to the motion for summary judgment, there is evidence presented that Defendant knew of the incursion by gangs in the parking lot and other common areas of its property, knew the gangs engaged in drug dealing and other criminal activity, was warned by its own security guard of the need for 24-hour patrols, had hired a second guard for a short period but terminated him because of expense considerations, and knew a neighboring condominium complex had hired off-duty Phoenix police officers to patrol. We therefore hold there is sufficient evidence from which a jury could find the danger foreseeable and Defendant negligent.
And then remanded the case back to the lower court to determine if negligence did exist.

I don't see removing a street lamp rising to the level of "foreseeability and possible prevention" of a criminal act especially, by your own admission

I have received email announcements of crimes that have occurred in areas (streets) of the community with adequate lighting.
If unforeseeable crimes are committed in lighted areas for which the HOA is not responsible I don't see the HOA being responsible for unforeseeable crimes committed in unlighted areas.

The discrimination case would be due to the Board discriminating against people on a street that clearly needed more light---
That's not illegal discrimination.
 

Pedas2

Junior Member
I did not reach that conclusion by reading the decision:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8637562785490491055&q=martinez+v+woodmar+iv+condominiums&hl=en&as_sdt=4,3

While the court agreed that the HOA has a duty to protect residents, lessees and guests, note that the court went to great lengths to explain



And then remanded the case back to the lower court to determine if negligence did exist.

I don't see removing a street lamp rising to the level of "foreseeability and possible prevention" of a criminal act especially, by your own admission



If unforeseeable crimes are committed in lighted areas for which the HOA is not responsible I don't see the HOA being responsible for unforeseeable crimes committed in unlighted areas.



That's not illegal discrimination.



Email proof that crimes have occurred is good enough to establish a need for a security measures such as a light. A dark street or common makes one more vulnerable to crime, as what happened in the Frances T case. Lighting was mentioned also in the Martinez case.

A police officer doing a risk assessment of the neighborhood would immediately point to the dark street as a security risk and the HOA has a responsibility to fix the security risk.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
I would also like to point out that if members of the HOA were to sue over something like that and actually win, in the end, they would be suing themselves and all of the rest of their neighbors. The money would not be coming out off the pockets of just the vocal minority,
 

Pedas2

Junior Member
I would also like to point out that if members of the HOA were to sue over something like that and actually win, in the end, they would be suing themselves and all of the rest of their neighbors. The money would not be coming out off the pockets of just the vocal minority,
Yes, I understand, but the majority of people in my HOA won't care about that factor.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
I have received email announcements of crimes that have occurred in areas (streets) of the community with adequate lighting. The discrimination case would be due to the Board discriminating against people on a street that clearly needed more light---before and after photos show a pitch black street vs one that's adequately illuminated.
Do you, personally, live on this "dark" street? Was there significant crime prior to the new streetlight? Is there crime since the installation? What happens if the streetlight might, perhaps, maybe be removed is purely hypothetical. If it happens, and the crime rate for that one street significantly exceeds the community's rate, the residents of that street *may* have courses of action, but it's not likely to be a discrimination case.
 

Pedas2

Junior Member
Do you, personally, live on this "dark" street? Was there significant crime prior to the new streetlight? Is there crime since the installation? What happens if the streetlight might, perhaps, maybe be removed is purely hypothetical. If it happens, and the crime rate for that one street significantly exceeds the community's rate, the residents of that street *may* have courses of action, but it's not likely to be a discrimination case.

Yes, I personally live on this "dark" street that is after decades thankfully no longer "dark" after the light was erected two weeks ago. The discrimination aspect comes from the Board neglecting or discriminating against a certain street that through photographs needs more light.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
The discrimination aspect comes from the Board neglecting or discriminating against a certain street that through photographs needs more light.
You may want to educate yourself about what constitutes illegal discrimination and a protected class. Not providing adequate lighting is not illegal, and living on a dark block does not make you part of a protected class. Really.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
The discrimination aspect comes from the Board neglecting or discriminating against a certain street that through photographs needs more light.

Or, to put the answers you've been given another way, it is LEGAL to discriminate against streets that need more light.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
The discrimination aspect comes from the Board neglecting or discriminating against a certain street that through photographs needs more light.

Or, to put the answers you've been given another way, it is LEGAL to discriminate against streets that need more light.
But this raises a question: HOW do you discriminate against a street?
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Yes, I personally live on this "dark" street that is after decades thankfully no longer "dark" after the light was erected two weeks ago. The discrimination aspect comes from the Board neglecting or discriminating against a certain street that through photographs needs more light.
Is the demography of that street "different" from (rest of) the well lit part of the HOA community?
 
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