Dear Mr. Richardson,

What happens when the owners of the units in a home owners association are no longer willing or perhaps even able to serve on the Board of Directors?

Circumstances indicate that if the present board, aging and increasingly infirm, resign, our HOA may find itself unable to get other members to serve on the board. I have heard several people say that the state will take over the operation of the association. I would very much like to know what the process is and also cost. 

I am the association president. Please do not use the name or location of this association publically, until we know what we are doing!

B.R., Pasadena


If no one is willing to serve on the Board, the state will not take over the association. On petition to the Superior Court, a judge might order the association into receivership. That would be horrible for your community. The receiver will be paid a fee awarded by the court – your association would have no say in the matter. The fee would be much more than what normal management companies charge.

If you can’t get volunteers for the board, there usually are reasons. Is your board doing everything itself, or does the Association have a management company? Does the Board conduct itself unprofessionally? Are meetings far too long and conflict-filled?

Years ago one of my client associations (100+ condominiums) was managed by a pair of retired members. One handled the finances and records, and the other managed the building. They wondered why nobody would volunteer to serve as a director, but it was obvious – nobody else wanted to take on an unpaid full time job! After the two men left (one moved, one passed away), a management firm was hired. After that point up to today, that association always has had enough volunteers to fill the board.

Thanks for your question,

Hello Mr. Richardson,

We live on a private street. The street and all duplexes were built in 1975. There was never an association put in place. Common areas are in disrepair. A few of us are wondering how to actually start an association. Do we need a majority vote from all the owners?

Any info would be great. Thank you. Respectfully,

B.E., Newport Beach

Dear B.E.,

To be considered a “common interest development” (commonly called “HOA”) all of the owners would need to consent to recordation of a set of covenants, conditions and restrictions (commonly called “CC&Rs”) binding all owners to mutual agreements. In addition to all owners, you probably will need the consent of all mortgage holders, since the owners would all be putting new restrictions on the properties. The covenants should be drafted by an attorney, because there are a number of legal subjects which need to be included. Once the CC&Rs are recorded, your new association would be referred to as a “planned development”.

Your experience illustrates why the common interest development is so important – because with increasingly dense use of land, we need a vehicle to help us work together in sharing land and maximizing the enjoyment of it. That vehicle is the common interest development.

Good luck,

Readers: Consider joining your local Community Associations Institute (“CAI”) Chapter – a source of education and free information.

Written by Kelly G. Richardson

Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Principal of Richardson|Ober PC.

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