Although there has yet to be a recorded case of the Zika Virus in California, the rapid spread of the disease across the world has sparked a major cause for concern for many communities across the United States. Carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, it’s not unreasonable to think that California may become affected, especially throughout the rest of the summer months and into the fall. If you’re concerned about the risks, you may be wondering what your HOA can do to help protect your community. The answer may be surprising, but it will also give you the right information to adjust your expectations accordingly.

What can be done?

First off, if you are expecting your HOA to dip into its reserve fund to help outfit your neighborhood, you may be disappointed. The idea that your HOA will proactively go out and hire private contractors to install traps, spray pesticides and repellents, and even provide mosquito nets in common areas is a far out one. The reason why is that it is very rare for an HOA to spend its non-budgeted money on a “potential threat.” Considering there has yet to be an issue with the virus in the state, it will be incredibly hard to justify to all members of the board to spend the money that could potentially be a red herring.

The second reason is simply because when an HOA enacts something outside of its legal obligation, it creates an unnecessary liability on itself. Simply, by even trying to improve the safety of the neighborhood, the HOA is putting itself at greater risk of being sued. Let’s say a neighbor accidentally walks through a screen door that was recently installed at the community pool, falls and breaks his arm. The risk of this for an HOA can easily outweigh the desire to take the steps to address the perceived threat in the first place.

This however, does not mean that you cannot use the resources and platform provided by your HOA to help protect your community. Meetings are a great place to provide a public service announcement to educate your neighbors about the dangers of Zika. The mailing list is a great way to send out tips for how to protect your home. Your HOA may even be willing to address some long-standing maintenance issues that need to be resolved anyway, such as removing standing water throughout the community or repairing screens or other entryways in common areas.

Trying to utilize your HOA as a way to protect the community from disease has the potential to extend far beyond its mandate, but that doesn’t mean that general education and community engagement can’t be accomplished. The best way to make sure that you stay in your lane is to talk to your HOA board members about your concerns and come up with a plan so that everyone benefits, without putting anyone at risk.