Community Association Articles

Open Forum: Drudge or Jewel?

The “Open Meeting Act” (Civil Code Sections 4900-4955), requires at Section 4925(b) that all membership meetings and board meetings have a time set aside for members to speak. This time is often called “open forum.” In open forum, a member can speak on topics on or...

We Like This Manager, But Are They Qualified?

Previous columns addressed management options and contracts. After selecting the desired type of management services, how can a board know if a manager prospect is qualified? California managers are unregulated, with no required license or minimum education. Rental...

Selecting a Management Company: The Contract

The previous HOA Homefront column discussed choices in association management.  If the association decides to hire a management firm to provide service, the management contract should be an important point of focus for the board. Price is not everything Hiring a...

Association Management: Associations Have Options

Choosing management assistance is one of a board’s most important decisions. Even the smallest associations will benefit from some form of professional management. What is a “Manager”? Managers carry out the association’s day to day operations, advising and providing...

2019 Bills Proposing New HOA Laws Are A Mixed Bag

This year Sacramento presents another spring season full of ideas for HOAs – some bad, some good, and some well-intentioned but needing revision. SB 323 Senate Bill 323 is a recycle of last year’s SB 1265, a bill vetoed by Governor Brown in September 2018. SB 323...

Why Governing Documents Matter

Governing documents are critical for HOA communities and are literally the legal glue which holds the association together. Civil Code Section 4150 defines “governing documents” as articles of incorporation, CC&Rs, bylaws, and operating rules, but I think...

What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 2] – Preparation

Before seeking a board seat, the best candidates should improve their readiness for service, and can: Read the governing documents at least once The governing documents are the framework (along with applicable laws) within which the board must operate. Familiarize...

What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 1] – Attitude

A community association is no better than the board of directors which leads it, and excellent associations require excellent volunteer leaders. Truly exceptional volunteer governance is not a happy accident, and it often has little to do with a volunteer’s...

Make a Target! Goals for 2019

The late and legendary coach John Wooden said “The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.” Your association might benefit from setting a few goals, and then moving to achieve them. Here are...

Tighter Protection of HOA Funds in 2019

Assembly Bill 2912 The most important new legislation changing how HOAs will operate is Assembly Bill 2912. AB 2912 began with the statement that its purpose is to “take important steps to protect [HOA members] from fraudulent activity by those entrusted with the...

Preparing for and Dealing with Disaster

An unfortunate reality is that occasionally communities can be confronted with disaster, when earthquake, wildfire, or other calamity can transform a community within a few hours. Planning for the unthinkable can improve the association’s recovery prospects....

Bills That Made It in Sacramento and Some Which Didn’t

September 30 was the last day for the Governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature in 2018. Many bills affecting HOAs were signed, and two were vetoed. SB 261 This bill, signed by the Governor on September 27, amends Civil Code 4040 to allow homeowners to...

Community Association Fair Housing Update

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race; color; religion; sex; national origin; familial status; or disability. In the context of Disability and Community Associations, instead of enforcing the rules and regulations equally...

13 Surefire Steps to Guarantee Board Meetings Will Be Longer [Satire]

If board service is not difficult enough, you can crank it up a notch by making board meetings much longer. If people aren’t dozing by meeting’s end and if you’re done after 90 minutes you haven’t tried hard enough. Follow these steps to increase your chances: 1. Do...

Before Amending CC&Rs, Avoid “Ready, Fire, Aim!” [10 Tips]

1. First, check with the members Amending CC&Rs usually takes a supermajority (i.e. more than simply a majority of the quorum), so strong membership support is essential. Drafting a great amendment is meaningless if the homeowners will not vote for it. 2. Avoid...

More Bills of Interest to Help (or Harm?) HOAs in 2018

Last week’s column discussed SB1265, a terrible bill for HOAs. There are several other bills which, if passed, would make major and minor changes to HOAs in 2019, and they are a mixed bag. SB 1016 Senate Bill (“SB”)1016, authored by Senator Allen, would add Civil Code...

Potentially Disastrous Bill Pending in Sacramento [SB 1265]

The California Legislature continues to try to “fix” California common interest developments, yet elected representatives still do not understand the dynamic of volunteer run communities or what they need. Senate Bill 1265 is the latest example. SB 1265, authored by...

Bad News for Beachfront HOAs Regarding Vacation Rentals

While short term rentals present an opportunity for members to make a profit on their home when not in use, such rentals also present many potential problems for both the municipality and the association. Weekender occupants are more likely to be less courteous and...

Playgrounds: Exercise or Peril?

A lawsuit concluded in Las Vegas involving the Lamplight Village Homeowners Association in February 2018. A 15 year old boy in 2013 sat on a swing to send a text message. The crossbar of the swing set, had, unbeknown to him, corroded and worn badly at the connection...

Your Meetings Are Raucous? YOU Might Be the Problem

Board meetings should be efficient and business-like events, but can unfortunately often be tumultuous and disorganized. Ineffective meetings frustrate directors, managers, and even the audience. The directors set the tone for the meeting, and there are ways in which...

El Presidente Is Not El Jefe

The office of HOA president is often misunderstood, and very serious disfunction for associations and their boards, as well as heartburn for the president, can be the outcome. At the outset, it is critical to understand that the role of the HOA president is...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 4] – The Service Provider

As the association’s service provider, I resolve to: Number one: Follow the Golden Rule. [treating others how I want to be treated] Proposals: Give the board the best proposal I can. If I think the association’s request for proposal is missing important elements of...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 3] – The Manager

As the association’s professional manager, I resolve to Number one: Follow the Golden Rule. Attitude check: Remember I am a professional, and will give the board the best advice I can. I am not employed to be silent. Strive to give the board the answers it needs to...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 2] – The HOA Member

I, the HOA member, resolve to: Number one: Follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. My attitude: Not refer to the HOA or board as “they,” since it is all “us.” The directors are also members who pay assessments and give their time to...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 1] – The Director

As an HOA director, I resolve to: Always: Follow the Golden Rule. Reboot my attitude: I don’t control my neighbors, I serve them. An attitude of service will help me to be less defensive and stressed when neighbors challenge or criticize board decisions. Advocate our...

What Sacramento Did For (Or is it to?) HOAs in 2017

The California Legislature was quite active this year in creating laws affecting HOAs, as six bills take effect in 2018. SB 2 Senate Bill (SB) 2, known as the “Building Homes and Jobs Act”, was signed by the Governor on September 29 as an urgency statute, which means...

11 Sure-Fire Ways to Frustrate HOA Elections

Most associations have member voting at least annually, and the process required by statute applies to all HOAs, whether 2 units in Redondo Beach or 3,000 units in Oakland. Avoid these mistakes which can doom HOA elections. 1. Ignore the procedure Civil Code Sections...

Conflicts of Interest: When to Step Aside

If one is involved in a decision affecting or involving that person uniquely as opposed to the community generally, that is a conflict of interest. Directors and committee members should avoid involvement in discussions or decisions in which they have a conflict of...

Manager: It Might Be You, or Maybe Us

Many associations struggle with a poor manager relationship, resulting in a frustrated board or a terminated manager. However, such struggles can sometimes arise from the board’s actions and likewise can be resolved by a change in board practices. Truly, some managers...

Bare Walls or Full Coverage: Insurance Brokers Weigh In

So-called “bare walls” insurance plans are often discussed in associations trying to limit the cost of water damage claims. In a bare walls approach, the HOA insurance does not restore unit interiors, but each owner to insures (via individual HO6 policy) or pays for...

Before Painting Garage Doors Purple

Associations are normally created with an initial architectural and landscaping theme which boards are responsible to protect and preserve. Condominium association boards are also expected to protect and preserve common area. Therefore, owners are usually prohibited...

A Boarding Hearing Notice: Now What?

A notice of a disciplinary hearing is not the best kind of mail to open, but in common interest communities, that is how associations compel owners to be good neighbors. How one responds to a hearing notice can greatly affect the outcome. Consider the following...

The Rules on Rules

It is important to create good association operating rules and to make sure the rule topics required by statute are also covered, but all that is wasted if the association fails to follow the required rule amendment process. Because rules are amended only by the...

Recipe for Reasonable Rules

One important board responsibility is to adopt and enforce community rules. Developers, when creating common interest communities, provide CC&Rs and Bylaws (usually boilerplate), but typically do not create rules. So, it is up to the volunteer boards to create...

Does Your HOA Have the Required Rules?

Operating rules are often called “house rules” or “rules and regulations” by associations in California. Under Civil Code 4350(a), rules must be written, and under Civil Code 4340 are adopted by the board of directors. In adopting or changing rules, boards must follow...

When Laws Collide: Child Safety Or Discrimination?

Common interest development associations (aka “HOAs”) are governed by both state and federal Fair Housing laws. Fair Housing laws prohibit “familial status” discrimination, which means singling out children for any disparate treatment. [This prohibition exempts senior...

The Drought Emergency is Over. Back to Business as Usual?

On April 7, 2017, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-40-17, formally ending the drought emergency, which can be read in its entirety at https://www.gov.ca.gov, the Governor’s web site. The Order is not only confirmation of good news for California, but also...

Exclusive Use Common Areas: What You Might Not Know

Many condominium buyers do not understand what they bought until long after becoming an owner. Condominiums consist of two elements: A “separate interest”, called the “unit”, and an undivided equal share in everything else, called common area. However, there are...

The Board Balancing Act

The ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang deals with opposite and inseparable forces. Common interest developments (“homeowner associations”) have their own “yin and yang” issues, in which four basic and inseparable priorities must be balanced to produce a...

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