Can We Limit Dogs?

Can We Limit Dogs?

Hi Kelly,  Our HOA recently voted to update our CC&R’s. One section prohibits ownership of numerous breeds of dogs that the board considers dangerous. Since California law (Food and Agri. Code 31683) outlaws dog breed discrimination by counties and cities we are the only HOA in the region that bans ownership of certain dogs. Isn’t it illegal under Davis-Stirling to violate state law?  R.L., Rancho Santa Fe  Dear R.L., The Food and Agricultural Code section you mention applies to ordinances adopted by cities and counties, but not restrictions passed by common interest developments. So, when the association members voted to approve an amendment to the CC&R’s prohibiting certain dog breeds, the amendment would not violate that specific law. However, the Davis-Stirling Act does protect the right to have a “pet,” which per Civil Code 4715 includes dogs. Under that statute, an association must allow an owner to keep one pet on the property. The statute defines “pet” as including ”any…dog,” so if one takes the statute as written, it is the homeowner who chooses what breed of dog to have, not the HOA. Thanks for your question, Kelly Dear Mr. Richardson, How can HOAs handle large, aggressive service dogs that otherwise would be barred by CC&R’s? How can HOAs accommodate residents’ allergies or legitimate fears re: service animals? A.Y., West Los Angeles Dear A.Y., The Fair Housing Act requires associations to provide reasonable accommodations to residents with disabilities, and one of the most common accommodations allowing a service dog or support animal. However, if the dog creates a nuisance by damaging property or menacing other residents, that accommodation may...
Aging America: Drawing a Line Between Community Living and Assisted Living

Aging America: Drawing a Line Between Community Living and Assisted Living

Many of today’s seniors believe they can forego assisted-living centers and age in place instead. That’s something community associations can’t ignore. Roughly 40 million Americans, or 13 percent of the population, are 65 or older. By 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that number will rise to 72 million, or 20 percent of the population. Community association leaders need to take note of these numbers because seniors increasingly are choosing to remain in their homes rather than move to adult-care or assisted-living facilities. In addition, the supply of family caregivers, who provide the majority of long-term services and support, is unlikely to keep pace with future demand, according to AARP. As people live well into their 80s and 90s, that will put increased pressures, obligations and potential liabilities on associations. The following article contains information and perspectives from community association stakeholders who have handled aging-in-place concerns professionally and personally. If your association hasn’t started talking about how it will handle its aging residents, it’s time. Aging residents have specialized needs and present unique challenges that board members and community managers aren’t trained or necessarily skilled to handle. Association governing documents are being tested by the aging population too. Hoarding, disorientation and physical limitations that prevent access to common areas are just some of the problems association leaders increasingly will face. These issues pose a threat to the safety and welfare of the individual resident, but they also present risks for the community and its other residents. Managers and board members must be mindful of how to recognize and respond to these issues without unnecessarily assuming liability or invading an...
Community Association Fair Housing Update

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 against all residents, the FHA allows a community to “discriminate” so to speak, by making an exception to a rule to accommodate a disabled resident. It isn’t always about service animals or comfort pets; it’s about providing all residents with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing. Perhaps more than ever before, fair housing regulations are impacting community associations as to how they govern, address common area modification requests, and enforce their rules. Communities are looking for ways to accommodate their residents who, for a variety of reasons, need to modify a common area or need an exception to a community rule to have equal use of their residence. A qualified resident with a disability is allowed a reasonable exception to a rule, or permission to make a reasonable modification to common areas at her expense i.e.; a reasonable accommodation. For some time now, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has been working on changes to the California Code of Regulations covering the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Most recently, on June 22, 2018, DFEH issued a Notice of Modifications which will likely impact how community associations address resident requests for reasonable accommodations. While the proposed modifications are being developed, it is our hope that the modifications clearly address such critical issues as 1) who pays for the modifications; 2) restoring the property after the...
Are These Rules Valid?

Are These Rules Valid?

Dear Mr. Richardson, The Davis-Stirling Act requires HOAs to develop certain operating rules, e.g., for elections or dispute resolution. Can (or should) the required rules be incorporated into the bylaws? Our small planned development (no recreational facilities, public streets, etc.) has little need for any rules other than what the Act requires. J.B., Santa Maria Dear J.B., The Davis-Stirling Act requires five sets of rules: Election rules (Civil 5105), internal dispute resolution policies (Civil 5905); architectural application procedures (Civil 4765); a schedule of fines (Civil 5850), and assessment delinquency policies (Civil 5310(a)(7)). Most associations have additional rules meeting their particular needs, such as amenity usage rules, architectural and landscaping standards, parking rules, and meeting rules, for example. Bylaws should not contain rules. Bylaws are meant to be more permanent, since normally a vote of the entire membership is required to amend bylaws. Bylaws should speak to how the corporation is governed – such as corporate powers and limits and board eligibility. Rules are less permanent, since they can be amended by the board with 30 days’ notice to the members. Could your community vote to amend the bylaws and transplant all the rules into the bylaws? Yes, but it’s not a good idea. As time passes, you all may find that some updating of certain rules is necessary and you do not want to have to hold a membership vote each time. Thanks, Kelly Dear Kelly, I bought a condo in Richmond, CA. and without reading the HOA rules I replaced carpet with hardwood because I have asthma and allergies. I love my new home but last month I received a...