QUESTION: We have a lady who feeds many stray cats in the common areas. Because she leaves out food, it attracts possums, raccoons and rodents. She totally ignores our letters. What can we do? Can we fine her? She is creating a dangerous environment.

ANSWER: You can fine her under the nuisance provision of your CC&Rs, provided the association has a published fine schedule and she is given due process. Another consideration is to bill her for any increase in pest control costs the association incurs as a result of her behavior. The costs could be charged as a fee or, if your documents allow, a reimbursement special assessment (the difference affects collection efforts). Remember, however, that if the fees end up in court, you must have sufficient evidence to convince a judge that the rat, possum and raccoon activity is the result of her behavior and not related to other factors. As a practical matter, if there are “homeless” cats that are hungry, people will feed them, whether it is this particular woman or others. You may want to work with pest control to trap the cats and remove them to a shelter. Under the law of unintended consequences, removing the cats may allow the rodent population to increase, so you should set traps for them as well.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.

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