100-Count Lawsuit Dismissed [R|O Court Victory]

R|O attorneys Kelly G. Richardson and Jonathan R. Davis obtained the dismissal of a frivolous, 100-count lawsuit filed by a vexatious litigant and a coconspirator against an Association and its Board. The vexatious litigant, who had been barred from filing lawsuits without first obtaining a court order due to his history of filing multiple harassing lawsuits against several organizations, utilized a coconspirator to file claims against R|O’s client on his behalf. The vexatious litigant attempted to obscure the fraudulent claims by incorporating them in a lawsuit involving claims that, at first glance, appeared to belong solely to the coconspirator. All claims were brought in the name of the coconspirator despite the fact that many claims were really being brought by the vexatious litigant. The lawsuit alleged violations of Governing Documents and the Davis Stirling-Act, infringement of constitutional rights, as well as a multitude of claims for slander and emotional distress. R|O obtained a court order deeming the coconspirator vexations, meaning that the coconspirator was also barred from filing new lawsuits without first obtaining permission from the court. Moreover, R|O fought each of the 100+ claims by the vexatious litigants on their merits, and obtained the dismissal for its clients. Written by Jonathan R. Davis Jonathan R. Davis, Esq. is a Senior Associate Attorney at Richardson|Ober PC. Follow ← Older...

New Law Mandates Battery Back-up for all Residential Garage Door Motors

SB 969 amends Section 19891 and adds Section 19892 to the Health & Safety Code and mandates all residential garage motors be equipped with back up battery functions.   Section 19892 provides that after July 1, 2019, any automatic garage door opener manufactured, sold or installed shall be equipped with a battery back-up function such that the automatic garage door opener functions during a power outage. This code section applies to “all automatic garage door openers manufactured or sold for use in any residence or other residential applications of automatic garage door openers manufactured for commercial purposes.” As for existing motors that lack a back-up battery function, the law prohibits any new door from being connected to a non-compliant motor. In other words, if you do nothing, there is no requirement to upgrade an existing garage door motor. If, you install a new door and connect it to an existing motor after July 1, 2019, that existing motor being connected to the new door must have back up battery function. Health & Safety Code Section 19891 carries a fine of $1000 per garage door opener installed which is not in compliance with section 19892. Written by Matt D. Ober Matt D. Ober Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Principal of Richardson|Ober PC.    Follow ← Older...

Water Intrusion Non-Disclosure Refuted [R|O Court Victory]

R|O recently represented a couple who sold their custom-built family home where they had raised their children over the past 16 years. Subsequent to the sale, and during the heaviest rainfall in Southern California since 2002, the house experienced water intrusion. The buyer sued the sellers, demanding damages in excess of $500,000. The buyer alleged that the sellers failed to disclose the water intrusion issues. R|O argued on behalf of the sellers that the sellers had no knowledge of the water intrusion issues due to the drought and that the issues they had experienced after the house had been built 16 years prior, had been resolved. Notwithstanding a denial of liability, R|O retained an expert who opined that the damage was really worth only $37,500. R|O made an statutory offer to compromise in that amount, which was rejected. After arbitration, an award was granted to the buyer in the amount of $37,248.61. Because the buyer received less than what the sellers offered, she had to pay the sellers $22,306.19 in post-offer costs. Written by Alisa E. Sandoval Alisa E. Sandoval is a Senior Associate at Richardson|Ober. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

SB 323 Heads to the Assembly

Back in April, we alerted you to some changing legislation in Sacramento. Sentate Bill (SB) 323 (last session’s SB 1265) re-emerged to address association elections and provide director qualifications. Just this last week, we learned that SB 323 passed through the Senate, and is now moving on into the Assembly. Associations that want to maintain control over their elections need to reach out and let the legislature hear how these changes will affect them. This revised bill is an attempt by Sacramento to mandate a one-size fits all election process onto communities from 2-2,000 owners. SB 323 would: Restrict the choices for inspectors of election Release privileged voting information of Owners Require Associations to release email addresses Increase oversight by courts in routine election processes Individual communities could no longer set their own standards and expectations for their leaders. If you oppose this attempt to deny owners control over their own communities, now is the time to act.   Boards, owners, managers and all community advocates should make sure their voices are heard. Keep up the communications, ask other owners to contact their representatives, and let Sacramento know how you feel about this attempt to take control away from owners. If you haven’t already, you can follow the progress and stay informed about the legislation using the link below. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov Written by Matthew A. Gardner Matthew A. Gardner is a Senior Associate at Richardson|Ober. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

Restraining Order Obtained [R|O Court Victory]

R|O litigators successfully obtained a Workplace Violence Restraining Order, brought on behalf of an Association, to protect its management and staff from harassing conduct by one of the residents at the property. Said resident had established a pattern of verbally abusing others, which then escalated to unlawful threats and physical violence. Repeated demands by the Association and R|O for the resident to cease such conduct went ignored. The Court granted the Association’s Petition and imposed a number of personal conduct, communication, and stay away orders upon the resident to protect a number of named employees and staff at the property. R|O attorneys were also successful in obtaining an award for the Association to recover the full amount of its fees and costs. Actions such as this may become more prevalent as a result of newly-passed Senate Bill 1300, effective January 2019, which requires employers, including community associations and management, to take action when they become aware of instances of harassment at their properties. Impact of Workplace Harassment for Community Associations and Management Senate Bill 1300 was adopted on September 30, 2018 and became effective in January 2019. In general, the law has the effect of expanding the scope by which California employers may now be held responsible to their employees for harassment, even in circumstances where the one engaging in such conduct is a separate non-employee. SB 1300 adds Government Code 12923, which emphasizes that California employees now have an enforceable “statutory right to work in a place free of discrimination when the harassing conduct sufficiently offends, humiliates, distresses, or intrudes upon its victim.” The Legislature also mandated that...

Dwelling Units

Only a week after the CAI Day at the Capitol, and CLAC was already back to work reviewing newly introduced legislation. Assembly Member Friedman introduced AB 670, which would require associations to allow owners to construct additional dwelling Units on their property. This bill would void community restrictions on accessory dwelling Units on a single-family lot, unless those restrictions were recorded prior to January 1, 2020. AB 670 defines two types of structures. First would be an “accessory dwelling unit,” which is a second unit on a lot up to 1,200 square feet in size. As drafted, the language allows accessory dwellings to either be completely detached or contained within the walls of the house on the lot, and allows those dwellings to include cooking, sleeping, and bathroom facilities. Second would be a “junior accessory dwelling unit,” which can be up to 500 square feet that has an outside entrance and cooking facilities, but may share bathroom facilities with the main house on the lot. This bill would significantly impact associations’ ability to manage growth and enforce standards within their community. Architectural standards are an important part of maintaining an overall community, and ensuring that owners can have input on decisions that affect the value of their homes. CLAC is asking associations to oppose this effort to move architectural control from communities to Sacramento. Richardson|Ober will continue to dedicate a portion of our newsletters to update key legislative updates as we learn more from CLAC. You can also track the bills as they make their way through Sacramento at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Written by Matthew A. Gardner Matthew A. Gardner is...

Court Approval of Amended CC&Rs [R|O Court Victory]

R|O attorneys obtained an order on behalf of an Association allowing for the amendment of its existing CC&Rs based on a reduced percentage of affirmative votes, as authorized by Civil Code section 4275. The amended CC&Rs were absolutely necessary to bring the Association’s governing documents into compliance with current law, including the Davis-Stirling Act, as well as to address other issues that had arisen since the original documents were drafted. The Association had long been engaging in efforts to encourage the membership to participate in the voting process; however, even after about a year of postponing the balloting period, the total votes returned were still less than the 2/3 majority required to amend the CC&Rs. R|O attorneys successfully petitioned the Court for approval of the amended CC&Rs because the overwhelming majority (97%) of votes received were in favor of the amendment. Written by Daniel C. Heaton  Daniel C. Heaton is an Associate Attorney at Richardson|Ober. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

Title Cleared to Permit Sale [R|O Court Victory]

After entering escrow to sell a commercial lot in Los Angeles, an out-of-state client first discovered that there was a problem with title. Over 50 years ago, when the client’s parents purchased the combined lot, only one of the two parcels had been correctly included on the recorded deed. Not only did the client believe all this time that both parcels had been purchased, but it was clear that so did the original sellers, as they could no longer be located. R|O attorneys assisted the client in securing an amendment to the escrow terms in order to allow sufficient time to clear title to the second parcel. After filing an action to quiet title and effectuating service on the absent sellers by publication, R|O obtained a Judgment conclusively establishing the client as the owner of the full, combined lot so that the sale may proceed. Written by Daniel C. Heaton  Daniel C. Heaton is an Associate Attorney at Richardson|Ober. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...
R|O Returns with Updates from CAI’s Legislative Day

R|O Returns with Updates from CAI’s Legislative Day

This month, Richardson|Ober was proud to participate in CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee’s (CLAC) Legislative Day in the Capitol. Every year, community managers, board members, homeowners, and business partners from throughout California gather together at the Capitol to be the voice for community association owners throughout the State on pending legislation impacting their communities. Building upon last year’s legislative successes the two-day strategic planning advocacy and summit gave grass roots supporters many opportunities to meet with California representatives and make CAI’s case for the upcoming legislative calendar.  The following is an overview of some of the most significant pending legislation. SB 323 Although CLAC worked to successfully defeat SB 1265 last year, the substance of that bill has returned this year as SB 323. Senator Wieckowski is once again attempting to push a one-size-fits-all approach to community elections. SB 323 would restrict the selection of election inspectors, would not allow communities the right to set their own qualifications for directors serving on the board, and would increase oversight by courts in routine election processes. CLAC will need support to once again defeating the harmful efforts of this bill. SB 434 The remaining bills demonstrate where CLAC supports creating good law to help communities. CLAC encourages legislators to support Senate Bill 434, introduced by Senator Archuleta. SB 434 incorporates best practices within the management industry and requires management companies to transfer association records in a timely manner. Both CAI and CACM came together to support this common sense legislation that helps communities run more smoothly. SB 754 CLAC also supports Senate Bill 754, sponsored by Senator Moorlach, which contains familiar...
2019 Bills Proposing New HOA Laws Are A Mixed Bag

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 would add burdensome new elements to the HOA election process and dictate to HOAs who could or could not serve as directors. The bill is as bad an idea this year as it was last year. As Governor Brown wrote while vetoing its predecessor, SB 323 “takes a once-size-fits-all(sic) approach, but not all homeowner associations are alike. If changes to an election process are needed, they should be resolved by the members of that specific community.” Associations should set their board eligibility standards, not Sacramento. SB 652 SB 652 addresses the conflict between architectural conformity and religious observance. Does a Jewish Mezuzah or Christian cross violate rules banning alteration of doorways? SB 652 would add a new Civil Code 4706, prohibiting associations from limiting or prohibiting display of religious items on entry doors of a member’s residence. There is no limitation on size, number, or appearance of doorway decorations, so long as they are religious. Perhaps some reasonable limit could be stated. Coauthored by sixteen legislators, it awaits committee assignment. SB 434 SB 434, authored by Senator Archuleta of Southeastern L.A. County, proposes to add a new Civil Code 5382. The proposed statute would require managing agents to produce the association’s records and property (manuals, transponders and keys, for example) within a certain time after termination and/or association request. Managers could not...