Fair or Unfair Housing

Fair or Unfair Housing

Hi Kelly, I recently read your earlier article on Fair Housing laws being violated by HOAs trying to enforce state-mandated signs that prohibit children from using HOA pool and spa. We have a large sign at the spa in our community pool section stating that “Children under 14 are prohibited from using the spa.” It’s just a flat out ban of children under 14, with or without a guardian. My 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son were devastated when a security guard told them they’d have to get out because of the sign. There was no one else in the pool or spa section other than us and our children. He said he feared losing his job if he didn’t try to enforce this. Is this a violation of the Fair Housing laws? If so, can you provide a link or legal reference to this? Thank you, E.A., Menifee Dear E.A., HOAs are currently required by Title 24 California Code of Regulations Section 3120B.4 to post a sign banning use of pools by children under the age of 14. At the same time, the Fair Housing laws ban discrimination against children, and do not contain an exception for safety. There have been several reported federal court cases in California in which housing providers have been sued because they tried to enforce the policy stated in the sign. The state Department of Public Health was considering amendments to its regulations to resolve this conflict in the law, but so far no changes have been announced on its web site. There are other instances in which safety concerns clash with Fair Housing laws, such...
We Have Unwritten Rules

We Have Unwritten Rules

Dear Mr. Richardson, Our board frequently adopts new rules, generally following the required process of providing 30-day notice to homeowners prior to voting at an open board meeting. The new rules are documented only in the board meeting minutes. Consequently, many of these rules have been “lost” throughout the years as homeowners come and go and memories fade. New homeowners moving in have no knowledge of these undocumented rules and naturally they are upset when the board enforces them. So, where should new and/or modified rules be documented? D.W., Cerritos Dear D.W., If the rule change is not published in writing, it is not a rule, per Civil Code 4350(a). Once the board has completed the rule-making process, the final steps are sending notice of adoption of the change and amending the rules document to include the change. If a new owner is not provided a copy of the rule, it might not be enforceable against that owner. Also, per Civil Code 4525(a)(1), all governing documents are to be provided to a member upon request so that they can be given to a prospective buyer. Rules are part of the association governing documents, per Civil Code 4150. Hoping this is helpful, Kelly Dear Kelly, I showed our president your article which said Civil 5850 requires associations to have a list of fines and that the list is part of the Annual Policy Statement packet. He said that there is no annual list of fines as we have an Assessment and Collection policy in place, and that the board is not empowered to change it. Our C.C.& R’s on two pages...
Candid Cameras in Our Association

Candid Cameras in Our Association

Mr. Richardson, Can the HOA install a camera in one garage area but not others? The HOA also installed a camera in the pool in order to catch one person’s possible violations. Is this legal? K.Y., San Jose Mr. Richardson, We are fans of your weekly column. Have you written about security cameras? Can you offer any direction as to legal issues and sound policy? Thanks so much, B.D., San Diego Hello Kelly, I would like to find out if installing a camera with audio in the parking area is legal in California. Please advise. Thank you, C.R., Encinitas Dear Kelly, Our complex has had a number of trespassers who have hopped locked pedestrian gates or tailgated resident cars through garage gates into resident parking areas. The board refuses to circulate images of these trespassers captured on surveillance cameras. Many of us want this video/image information in case we see the intruders or their vehicles in the future. We strongly believe this is a personal safety issue. The board says this is a possible liability issue.  Can the board appoint a volunteer committee of residents to review the surveillance videos, with the committee deciding whether to circulate the trespasser-related images to all residents? Thanks, B.A., Newport Beach  Dear K.Y., B.D., C.R., and B.A., As the affordability and technical quality of surveillance increases, cameras are increasingly considered by associations. However, cameras are not an answer to all HOA problems, and can create more problems. For example, placing a camera only to surveil a single resident will almost certainly offend the resident and create a possible claim of privacy invasion. If surveillance...

Shutting off Utilities, Proxy Verification

Mr. Richardson, Good morning. Our community has approximately 9 that are behind in their HOA dues, some by two or more years. Can we legally have their water shut off as the HOA pays for that?? Any other suggestions?? Thank you, C.G., North Hills Dear C.G., Today more than ever before, in what has now become known as the “Great Recession”, associations are struggling everywhere, searching for new ways to deal with the problem of assessment delinquencies. Associations can, by following the disciplinary process, suspend the member’s right to use common area amenities (such as the recreation room, pool, etc.) or even membership voting rights. However, the association cannot take action which would deny the use of the residence, such as cutting off essential utilities. Publishing a “deadbeat list” of delinquent owners is another creative albeit bad idea. The best approach to deal with delinquencies is to have a reasonable collection policy and then stick to it. Make sure the association does not let delinquencies build up too much before taking action. As to which type of assessment collection technique to use (small claims, non-judicial foreclosure or judicial foreclosure), that is for a different column! Thanks for your question, and hope your association situation improves soon.Kelly Dear Kelly, If a HOA elections rule states that “Proxies may not be used in lieu of a Ballot” can H/O’s legally collect proxies and bring them to the annual meeting and be counted? When I ask the Inspector of Election how he was going “Determine the authenticity, validity, and effect of proxies” He stated that he merely looked at the HOA listing...
Surveillance Cameras, “Public” Pools

Surveillance Cameras, “Public” Pools

Hi Mr. Richardson, I’ve been at meetings where you were a guest speaker and I have a question you can help me with. Is there any legal reason that prohibits a homeowner to allow the HOA to install video surveillance cameras to get images of the street/entrance areas? Our neighborhood had a rash of burglaries and I looked into having the HOA pay for installing video cameras on our members garages to get images of people and cars coming in and out of the neighborhood. The only people that would have access to the images would be the homeowner, the Sheriff Dept. and the HOA board. We would only look at the video when a crime occurred. Signs would be posted at the entrance area to notify everyone there is video surveillance. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you, J.L., Rolling Hills Estates Dear J.L., Associations are required to take reasonable steps to deal with known safety issues within the association community. The definition of “reasonable” depends upon the facts and circumstances. If your board after careful discussion and input from appropriate expertise (management, or even better a security company), decides that surveillance would be appropriate, the board can make that decision. It is important to make it clear in your posted notice not only that certain areas are under video recorded surveillance but that this is RECORDING and that nobody is actively watching the monitors. You don’t want somebody to have a false sense of security by standing near a camera, thinking someone is watching them. Having very limited and controlled access to the video recordings is a good idea....