IDR in the homeowners association realm stands for “Internal Dispute Resolution” and is often also referred to as “meet and confer”. It is one process that is embodied in California law that gives an owner the opportunity to meet with the Board or some of the Board members to try and resolve a dispute. The law says that a board must meet with an owner who requests IDR. The statute number is and the law says (the part about the board being required to meet):
Civil Code Section 1363.850 “REQUIREMENTS OF A FAIR, REASONABLE, AND EXPEDITIOUS DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM.”
A fair, reasonable, and expeditious dispute resolution procedure shall at a minimum satisfy all of the following requirements:
(a) The procedure may be invoked by either party to the dispute. A request invoking the procedure shall be in writing.
(b) The procedure shall provide for prompt deadlines. The procedure shall state the maximum time for the association to act on a request invoking the procedure.
(c) If the procedure is invoked by a member, the association shall participate in the procedure. (THE BOLD IS MEANT TO EMPHASIZE THIS REQUIREMENT IMPOSED BY LAW.)
(d) If the procedure invoked by the association, the member may elect not to participate in the procedure. If the member participates but the dispute is resolved other than by
agreement of the member, the member shall have a right of appeal to the association’s board of directors.
(e) A resolution of a dispute pursuant to the procedure that is not in conflict with the law or the governing documents binds the association and is judicially enforceable. An agreement reached pursuant to the procedure that is not in conflict with the law or the governing documents, binds the parties and is judicially enforceable.
(f) The procedure shall provide a means by which the member and the association may explain their positions.
(g) A member of the association shall not be charged a fee to participate in the process.”
The Board can adopt a process for meeting with a board member or any or all of the board members. It can use a facilitator and arrange a mediation, or simply “meet and confer” with the member.
Here are a couple of questions that I received recently from a reader:
“First, if I request IDR, do I have the right to meet with a board member minus
the property manager, since the problems are with him?”
An owner can and should ask to meet with the board and without the property manager if that is the subject of the dispute. I would hope the board would not hide behind the property manager and say no to the request. However, I have certainly seen situations where the owner who wants the meeting is the scary person and in that case, the board and manager may want to meet in a safe setting and not in someone’s unit or the manager’s office. (I am thinking a public place like a meeting room at Pizza Hut or a Starbucks with a separate room. These are locations where boards have met who do not have clubhouses on site.)
“Second, if the problems aren’t resolved thru IDR and I request ADR, does association have the right to refuse ADR?”
The Board is not required to participate in ADR. The problem for either party that declines ADR is that that refusing to agree when asked to participate in ADR (alternative dispute resolution meaning mediation or arbitration) to resolve a homeowner association dispute jeopardizes the association’s or owner’s (who refuses it) ability to recover fees if there is litigation and the party prevails.