California Now Has Fair Housing Regulations: Sexual Harassment is Illegal

California Now Has Fair Housing Regulations: Sexual Harassment is Illegal

The federal Housing and Urban Development Department (“HUD”), adopted regulations in September 2016 which for the first time prohibited sexual harassment within housing accommodations. “Housing accommodations” in this context includes homeowner associations. These regulations have thus far not received widespread attention, but in California this will change soon. In August 2018 the California Fair Employment and Housing Council approved Fair Housing regulations, providing the first written enforcement guidelines to help associations comply and avoid exposure to state or private discrimination claims. The new state regulations will take effect on January 1 or April 1, 2019, after some further rule-making process, and will be found at California Code of Regulations 12000-12271. The inaugural regulations do not address all Fair Housing issues but are informative regarding accommodation of disabilities and assistance animals, and also bring a new requirement by echoing the HUD regulations (as California must) by requiring housing providers to reasonably respond to sexual harassment against residents. Sexual harassment was previously considered only as an employment issue, and its two varieties – unwanted sexual advances and hostile environment- have both long been illegal in the workplace. Under the new regulations, associations must protect residents from unwanted advances not only from vendors or management, but also from other residents. If a resident complains against a neighbor, what should associations do, since they can’t relocate or evict residents? Kevin Kish, Director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, said “an HOA can’t be liable for failure to take an action it doesn’t have the power to take.” Under section 12010(c) a violation exists where the person knew or should have known...
We Don’t Like Non-Resident Directors, or Pot Farms, in Our HOA

We Don’t Like Non-Resident Directors, or Pot Farms, in Our HOA

Dear Kelly, Are board members required have to own and live on site to become a board member? I am not finding any information on this in my CC&Rs or rules and regulations, and was wondering if you could shed some light on this question for me. Thank you in advance, K.Y., Downey Dear K.Y., Board eligibility standards under the Corporations Code are minimal – a director cannot be a felon and cannot be declared legally incompetent by a court. HOA eligibility standards are usually found in bylaws but can also be found sometimes in the election rules. The Friars Village v. Hansing case from 2013 confirmed that eligibility standards can be placed in election rules, so long as they do not conflict with the bylaws or CC&Rs. Some associations amend their bylaws or rules to bar directors from running for the board or serving as director if they are non-residents, have missed several meetings, are suing the HOA, or have a spouse or co-owner already serving on the board, to give some examples. However, a bill pending in Sacramento may change all that. Senate Bill 1265, authored by Senator Wieckowski, would overturn the Friars Village v. Hansing decision. If SB 1265 becomes law, the only disqualifications for board service will be if the person is not a member, has committed a felony involving financial dishonesty, or is confirmed delinquent after an internal dispute resolution process. If the bill becomes law, all other bylaw provisions regarding board eligibility will be voided, basically amending all bylaws. SB 1265 passed the Senate on May 30 by 25 to 12, and is...

Sacramento Update

The California Legislature is very active this year (as it is most years) regarding common interest developments (the term used by state law for what most call “homeowner association”). This is the second year of the 2013-2014 legislative session, and some bills (proposed laws) are pending from last year, while others are new, having been introduced this year. To become law, a bill must pass its “house of origin” (Senate for Senate Bills, Assembly for Assembly Bills) by May 31, and must pass the other house by August 31. On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency regarding the drought, directing state officials to conserve water. In response, at least four bills were introduced, seeking to limit the ability of CIDs to restrict low water landscaping or to discipline homeowners who underwater their landscaping. These bills are SB (Senate Bill) 992 and 1144, and AB (Assembly Bill) 2100 and 2104. This means that, if any of these bills become law, an association would have to allow brown yards and dead or sick looking plants, so long as the Declaration of Emergency was in force. While I understand the importance of water conservation, I hope the bills can be amended to protect neighbors from eyesore properties. Common Interest Developments are the only non-profit corporations in California not allowed to vote electronically. AB 1360, sponsored by the Community Associations Institute, seeks to permit HOAs to choose to offer its members the option to vote via the internet. The bill was introduced last year and passed the Assembly, and is awaiting Senate Committee hearing. The bill now contains far...

Peace in Your HOA

The holiday season is upon us, when one of the traditional wishes is for peace and good will. Could “peace on earth and good will toward men” include not only family and friends, but also our HOA neighbors? There are “leaders” in the HOA field, including even other columnists, who routinely recommend suing your HOA and board. HOA Lawsuits deepen division, are costly, and rarely resolve the root problem. A successful lawsuit cannot improve a board’s governance — that comes from volunteers stepping up with commitment and the right attitude. If a board is bad, elect a new board, because a judge cannot force a board (or a homeowner) to change. A judge only decides who wins the battle, not the war. Lawsuits should be the very last resort after all else has failed. Check your attitudes: Members: Do you refer to the HOA as “they”? Because the association is you, and you are part of it. Are you informed? Are you participating on committees or working groups? Do you take the time to become informed before you state your opinions on a board decision? You are part of a common interest community, which means that by your purchase you joined a group of owners. This means that you have traded some independence in exchange for the benefits of HOA living. Directors: Is your attitude of service or of control? These are not your employees, they are your neighbors. If you understand that you are a volunteer serving your community, you are less likely to foster conflict. Do you listen, or simply tolerate other points of view? Have you...