Tips Regarding HOA Committees

Tips Regarding HOA Committees

Most associations find committees helpful. Here are some tips to maximize their value to the HOA: 1. Committees can be “ad hoc,” i.e., temporary, or ongoing Committees typically address a major ongoing area of concern or take on the study of larger or complicated issues. 2. A committee is a group A committee should have at least 3 or 4 members. When a committee dwindles down to one or two persons, it is no longer a committee and should be restocked with volunteers or disbanded. 3. Appointments in the open Committee appointments (or removal) should occur in open meetings. Committee members are not “personnel” and so discussions about committee rosters are not eligible for closed session. 4. Committee service not perpetual Committees normally serve at the pleasure of the board. If a committee is not performing well, committee members can be replaced, and if the committee is not required by the governing documents, it can be disbanded by board vote. 5. Have committee charters Each committee should have a clear written charter adopted by the board. A clear charter informs the committee (and potential volunteers) what is the committee’s role, helping keep the committee on target. A charter also can indicate the minimum and maximum number of members. 6. No interference with vendors or management Committees and their chairs often need to be reminded that decisions are made by the board, that committees make recommendations, and that the committees and their chairs are not authorized to instruct management, association vendors, or other residents. 7. Have directors on committees if possible, but not too many One director on committees helps...
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...
HOA Annual Checkup – How Does Your HOA Score?

HOA Annual Checkup – How Does Your HOA Score?

Common interest developments, or homeowner associations (aka “HOAs”) house about one third of Californians, and most new housing stock is established in HOAs. Can buyers determine whether an association residence is a good investment, or if the HOA is healthy? Is it simply price and “location, location, location”? Well-run associations in poor locations might be more desirable than poorly run associations in great locations. Consider these factors: Maintenance Is the property well-maintained? Peeling paint, cracked stucco, dead landscaping, and worn hallway carpets are not good signs. Some associations pinch pennies, avoiding normal maintenance expenses in order to avoid increasing assessments – never a good idea. Board Meetings HOA boards must by law meet at least quarterly, and most boards in all but the smallest associations meet at least monthly. Boards that meet little or not at all may be conducting business informally or even in secret. Boards meeting too often may be disorganized. Ask for a few months’ minutes – See what you can learn about the board’s operation. Board minutes must by law be made available to members, and can be very informative. Look for minutes reflecting businesslike meetings and an association making progress. Association Financial Stability – Reserves HOAs are required to provide detailed reserve funding disclosures, so read them! Normal residential appraisals do not address capital reserve funding (or the lack thereof). Short-sighted HOAs avoid accumulating reserve fund savings (in order to avoid assessment increases), but that is actually a form of growing indebtedness. Some day that association will need to take out a loan or impose a special assessment because it is not ready for...

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...

Where Are the CC&Rs, Harassment

Kelly, What rights do I have to review the complete CC&Rs including addenda added in the past twenty plus years we lived in this community? I do not require them to retain, but only to locate a particular addendum that was added several years ago that the current board cannot or will not search for. I am willing to go to whatever office will supply me with the material, probably the management company. I have been told that there is a fee for such access, but I cannot believe that. What is your advice on how to pursue this request without confrontation? Thank you. M.S., Laguna Niguel Dear M.S. No confrontation is necessary. Your association CC&Rs should be recorded with the Orange County Recorder, along with any amendments. Technically, you could go to the Recorder’s office and request them, or you could ask a title company customer service department to retrieve copies. There may be a modest charge. Associations frequently do not have an official copy of their covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). Make sure your HOA is distributing a copy of the recorded document, not an unrecorded copy. You can tell, because the recorded copy should have a stamp on each page. Watch out for CC&R amendments which are inadvertently unrecorded. If they aren’t recorded, new owners may not have legal notice of them, which could undermine their enforceability. Thanks for your question,Kelly Kelly, We always enjoy your column, so a quick question. When we moved into Laguna Hills years ago we were not crazy about having an HOA but had to accept the reality. For the first...