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Laguna Hills California Homeowners' Association Law Blog

What benefits do homeowners' association members receive?

Are you looking to buy a house, condominium or townhouse here in California? In many instances, you will need to pay dues to a homeowners' association. It might be helpful to have an understanding of what benefits homeowners' association members receive in exchange for their dues.

Many California neighborhoods have common areas such as sidewalks, landscaping or pools. The neighborhood in which you are looking to buy may even have a playground, tennis courts or a basketball court. These areas are supposed to be maintained by the HOA. Any repairs needed should also be handled by the association.

Homeowners' Association Boards must maintain a delicate balance

Enforcing the rules is never fun since no one likes to be seen as the bad guy. Even when members of California Homeowners' Association Boards want to be more lenient on one homeowner but harsher on another, that is not advisable. If the board is seen as "playing favorites" or being unnecessarily hard on another homeowner, litigation may not be far behind.

Your main duty is to enforce the covenants, conditions and restrictions of the association. All of the members agreed to the conditions that keep them in good standing and agreed to abide by the property use rules. However, that does not mean that a homeowner will respond well when you and the rest of the board must enforce the CC&Rs.

HOA Board Fails to Pay $994, Loses Its Main Street at Auction

In one of the more interesting stories of the year, the prestigious Presidio Terrace neighborhood in San Francisco has lost one of its main streets and parking areas. The Presidio Homeowners Association apparently failed to pay a total of $994 in back taxes, interest and penalties and a block-long private street was auctioned off two years ago for $90,100.

A pair of real estate investors purchased the street, which is oval in shape and gated into the neighborhood. They have quietly been assessing the situation and determining what to do with the street, which is located down the hill from the Presidio itself and near San Francisco's Gold Coast.

The California Business Judgment Rule - Bruised and Confused

By Stanley Feldsott
Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield

Ever since the California Supreme Court published its opinion in Lamden v. La Jolla Shores Clubdominium Homeowners Assn. (1999) 21 C4th 249, 87 CR2d 237, 980 P2d 940, we have seen a proliferation of defendant directors asserting as an absolute defense the business judgment rule. Although for a while it appeared as if all activities of a Board of Directors would be protected under the umbrella of the business judgment rule, much of this came to an end with the decision of the court in Ritter & Ritter v. The Churchill Condominium Association (2008) 166 CA4th 103, where the justices correctly pointed out that Lamden by its very language only dealt with the business judgment rule in the context of ordinary maintenance decisions. It did not, for example, address activities that resulted in threats to safety, personal injury or many of the other activities that directors and associations find themselves engaged.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Canine Companions as a Reasonable Accommodation for a Resident's Disability

Woof! If your HOA has gone to the dogs, it may have adopted pet restrictions to limit the number, size, or breed of dogs in your community. But even if your governing documents don't let every dog have its day, a request for a dog as a reasonable accommodation for a resident's disability is nothing to bark at. The Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") compels HOAs to make reasonable accommodations in their policies when necessary to afford a person with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. As a result, if a resident submits "reliable disability-related information" establishing that she needs a dog to accommodate a disability, your HOA may be required to throw her a bone. And even if the resident's information is insufficient, your HOA would be wise to establish a record of engaging in the interactive process by asking for further information before telling her that she's barking up the wrong tree.

What if I Receive an Assessment Collection Notice that is Unclear?

Collecting monthly maintenance assessments is a task with which all homeowners' associations are intimately familiar. The process of collecting delinquent assessments is dictated by both state and federal laws, and associations should take care that they are being clear in their collection correspondence with homeowner-debtors, as outlined in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal's recently published opinion in Mashiri v. Epsten Grinnell & Howell, 845 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2017).

Director duties and potential liability: is your board protected?

By Jacqueline Pagano, Esq.

Volunteer directors serve an important, often underappreciated role in community associations. Having been vested with considerable power, board members also have specific legal duties, and with these duties come potential personal liability. The following shall summarize what you need to know in order to protect your board and shield your directors from potential liability.

Properly Conduct a Disciplinary Hearing

Parking violations. Architectural violations. Nuisance violations. These are just a few examples of the many violations that homeowners associations deal with on a regular basis. We frequently see associations simply fine the homeowner without a notice and hearing. Most of the time, people pay it and move on, but sometimes, the fine is challenged. Without giving the violating homeowner due process, the disciplinary measure is invalid.

A Duty to Disclose Construction Defects to Prospective Buyers?

In a case from 1996, Kovich v. Paseo Del Mar Homeowners' Assn., 41 Cal.App.4th 863; 48 Cal.Rptr. 2d 758, a homeowner bought a townhouse, but soon after moving in, he discovered cracked walls and slabs. The association was engaged in a construction defect case against the developer during that time, but never provided a disclosure of it in the escrow packet. The homeowner was upset at the discovery of these defects after moving in and naturally decided to sue the association, even though the association was not a party to the transaction. The homeowner's position was that the association knew about the construction defects and had a duty to disclose such information.

Recall Elections - The Kind of Stuff Lawsuits Are Made Of

Association elections can be heated, and none so much so as a recall election. Perhaps because emotions are high, or because of the rather complicated statutory framework associations are required to follow, recall elections are more likely than any other association vote to land an association in court. To avoid the perils of those who came before you, follow the below the suggestions:

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