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Legal Liability

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SELF-MANAGED ASSOCIATIONS

Q. 
Our association in Artesia, which consists of twelve townhomes, has been self-managed for many years in order to save money. Our newly elected board of directors is considering the possibility of hiring a management company which would result in an increase of our monthly assessments. The board claims that we should save money in the long run. What is your experience?

A. 
In my experience, I have found that self-managed associations have higher expenses in the long run than those with professional management. Overall, self-managed associations pay more for maintenance and repairs, have more collection problems and pay out more legal fees because more mistakes tend to be made by the boards of these associations. Self-managed associations tend to keep many lawyers working overtime. Top


JUSTIFIED EXPENDITURES

Q. 
Can the board of directors of our association spend association funds on what amounts to a political issue? The board wants to spend funds to stop a nearby development, based on the belief that it will harm the value of homes in our community.

A.  Absent a prohibition in the association's bylaws or CC&Rs, the board can probably justify the expenditure so long as they act:

1.      In good faith;

2.      In the best interest of the association;

3.      After becoming fully informed, and

4.      After deliberating as a body before deciding. Top


BOARD WON'T FIX LEAKY ROOF

Q. 
We live in a three story condominium complex in Woodland Hills that is over twenty years old. The roof needs replacement, but the association does not have the funds to replace it. It has been patched numerous times, over several years, but still leaks when it rains. Our roofer tells us that patching will only slow the water down and that we must replace the roof. This has been confirmed with a second opinion. The board has attempted three times to get a special assessment passed, but has failed to get one approved due to a combination of indifference and people on the lower floors refusing to pay the cost. Our ceiling, walls and furniture has been damaged. What can be done?

A. 
The board can approve an emergency assessment where there is a threat to personal safety on the property. While your situation may be a legal stretch, the board should immediately discuss the option with its legal counsel. Absent a special assessment and repair, your option is to sue the association for failing to maintain the common area. Top


CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Q. 
Our management company has been using the husband of an employee to provide maintenance services to our association for several years. We just learned of the relationship because it was not previously disclosed to us. Is this a conflict of interest for the management company?

A. 
Absolutely. Whenever a management company uses a related party to provide services, it must be disclosed in writing, in advance. This type of conduct does not reflect positively on the management company to say the least. Top


WAIVING LATE FEES

Q. 
Our board of directors recently waived a late fee for a board member because "she puts in so much free time." Other members of the association are required to pay a late fee whenever they pay late, without exception. What are your comments?

A. 
I strongly recommend that the board cease the policy of waiving late fees for this or any other board member because such a policy creates a legal defense for other members of the association who pay late fees and get fined. If the board ignores my advice, at the very minimum, the board member who is receiving the special benefit should be recused from voting on such a waiver. Lastly, the receipt of such a benefit may have the legal effect of eliminating the board member's statutory protection because it can be argued that volunteers do not receive compensation, and that the waiver of a fee is in fact compensation. In short, it's asking for trouble to make exceptions such as the one described. Top


BOARD REFUSES TO PROTECT MEMBER

Q. 
We live in a community of new single family homes in Anaheim Hills that has an association and common area. Behind our home is a common area hillside that is draining water onto our lot because of an inadequate drainage system. The water is starting to lift our patio slabs and do other damage. We are concerned that with a heavy season of rain, the damage will become very serious. Our homeowners association refuses to sue the developer for construction defects because our home is the only one significantly impacted by the flow of water. Are we out of luck?

A. 
No. If the association refuses to protect your rights, an experienced construction defect attorney can file a derivative suit to protect those rights. You should consult an attorney immediately because you can lose your rights if you wait too long. Top


EXPIRATION OF CC&Rs

Q. 
We live in a condominium building in West Hollywood that is thirty-five years old. We like it because of its great location, low density and mature landscaping, but are concerned about the future. What happens if, in the future, the development becomes an under improvement for the area and the buildings become obsolete?

A. 
California law provides that for condominium projects over fifty years old that are uneconomic and obsolete, 50% or more of the members may vote to sell the entire project pursuant to a court supervised partition action.

I am not aware of any such sales that have taken place in California. However, I expect it will become common in twenty-five to thirty years. Top


DAVIS-STIRLING ACT

Q. 
What exactly is the Davis-Stirling Act?

A. 
The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act consists of sections 1350 through 1378 of the California Civil Code. These code sections deal exclusively with common interest developments, which includes community apartment projects, condominiums, planned developments, and stock cooperatives. Other laws which affect common interest developments are the Federal Communication Commission Regulations, California Health and Safety Code, Corporations Code, Vehicle Code, Code of Civil Procedure and Government Code. Top


HIRING SECURITY GUARDS

Q. 
The board of directors of our homeowners association is considering the possibility of terminating the contract with our security guard company and then hiring the guards directly in order to save money. Our management company is in favor of the idea. What are your comments?

A. 
I strongly recommend against it. Taking such action will create a substantial list of potential liabilities. This column does not permit an adequate discussion of the risks involved. Don't do it. Top


DUTIES OF ARCHITECTURAL COMMITTEE

Q. 
I am on the board of directors of my homeowners association located in Long Beach. We have an architectural committee. Traditionally, the architectural committee has been concerned with building code compliance. Is this an appropriate matter to be commented upon by an architectural committee?

A. 
No. Architectural committees should be concerned about compliance with the CC&Rs, rules and regulations and the appearance of proposed modifications. Compliance with building codes should be left to the local city or county. If your architectural committee assumes responsibility for making comments on possible code violations, it places your association in a position to be held liable in the event that it makes an error in judgment. There is no reason for an association to assume that responsibility. Top


TREES

Q. 
My neighbor's tree is only inches from the property line. Do I have the absolute right to cut roots and branches that encroach onto my property?

A. 
No. You do not have an absolute right. You have only the right to act reasonably. I suggest you talk to a consulting arborist before you do any cutting to make certain that you don't damage the tree and get yourself into trouble. Top


NO PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR MEMBERS

Q. 
It appears that the president of the board of directors of our association may have said something that will result in a defamation suit being filed against the association. If the association is sued and a judgment is entered against it, can the individual homeowners be held personally liable for the judgment?

A. 
No. However, this should not give you great comfort. If the association has a judgment against it, the judgment creditor can force the association to special assess every member to pay the judgment. Top


DISCLOSURE OF LITIGATION

Q. 
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate for the board of directors of a homeowners association to inform the membership of a serious delinquency in the payment of monthly assessments?

A. 
Yes. A board may disclose a delinquency when its collection action has reached the stage of a lawsuit. When an association becomes involved in litigation, the members are entitled to notice. The filing of a suit places the matter in the public domain and is material to the financial condition of the association. California Civil Code Section 47 protects the association as plaintiff from liability for defamation or disclosure of private information under the "litigation privilege." Top


RIGHT TO PRIVACY

Q. 
I am on the board of directors of my homeowners association in Long Beach. May the board discuss individual delinquencies (identifying names) at regular board meetings? The association's law firm has advised us that we may do so. I do not feel comfortable in having these types of matters discussed in public. What is your opinion?

A. 
Discussions concerning individual delinquencies (identifying names) should only take place during executive sessions. This means that members of the association will not be present other than board members. The California Civil Code requires that the board of directors must adjourn to executive session to consider litigation and member discipline.

The California Constitution guarantees the right to privacy. While it is unclear whether the Constitution protects a person from an invasion of privacy by a homeowners association (as opposed to the state), it may. The right to privacy has been liberally interpreted by all courts. Lastly, the intrusion into private affairs by an individual may constitute a court for which the plaintiff may collect damages including punitive damages.

I strongly disagree with your counsel's opinion and suggest that your board discuss association delinquencies only during executive committee sessions. Top


INCORPORATION OF ASSOCIATIONS

Q. 
Are all homeowner associations corporations?

A. 
No. However, in California 99% are corporations. The others are unincorporated associations. Top


LAW FIRM WON'T SUE MANAGEMENT COMPANY

Q. 
The management company for our townhome association gave our board of directors some very bad advice which resulted in our association losing several thousand dollars. Our association law firm refuses to get involved in a suit against the management company. Our board is finding it difficult to find an association law firm that will sue any management company. Is this common?

A. 
Yes. Most association law firms get the vast majority of their business from management companies and thus, most of these law firms refuse to represent associations against management companies. Your board should continue to interview association law firms. If they are diligent, they will find a competent firm. Top


CONTRACTING WITHOUT A LICENSE

Q. 
What is the penalty for contracting without a license when one is required?

A. 
Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $15,000. Top


PRACTICING LAW WITHOUT A LICENSE

Q. 
The management company of our association has offered to re-write our rules.  The hourly rate is far below what our attorney would charge for the same work.  Do you have any recommendations or comments?

A. 
Yes.  Your management company would not be doing the same work as your law firm.  Only attorneys are permitted to offer legal advice.  Writing rules for an association comes dangerously close to practicing law and may cross the line.  I recommend that any new rules be written by your attorney or at least, reviewed and approved by him or her. Top


POSSIBLE KICKBACK

Q. 
The management company for our homeowners association has a website with links to various vendors that they use for various management clients.  The vendors are required to pay the management company a fairly substantial fee in order to be listed.  Is this a disguised form of kickback?

A. 
Possibly. Without knowing the amount of money involved it is difficult to determine if the fee is reasonable given the cost of service provided or whether it's a means for the management company to generate income as a result of providing business to the vendors.  In any event, at the minimum it creates the appearance of a conflict and, in my opinion, is evidence of poor judgment. Top


CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Q. 
When is it appropriate for a member of our homeowner association board to recuse himself?

A. 
A board member should recuse or disqualify himself or herself because of self interest, bias or prejudice.  If a board member does not recuse himself or herself when required, he or she will have a conflict of interest.  If a board member votes on a matter where he or she has a conflict of interest, he or she violates his or her fiduciary duty. Top


WHEN DOES A CONFLICT EXIST?

Q. 
Please define "conflict of interest."

A. 
A conflict of interest exists where an individual's duty to one party leads to the disregard of a duty to another. It exists when an outside influence affects a person's ability to make an independent, unimpeded, objective decision or when a person owes duties to separate parties with conflicting interests.

Whether or not a conflict of interest exists depends on the facts of a particular situation which must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Top


IS A CONTRACTOR'S LICENSE REQUIRED?

Q. 
Are handymen required to have a contractor's license? 

A. 
It depends.  Work on a project for which the combined value of labor, materials, and all other items on one or more contracts is less than $500 does not require a contractor's license.  However, work which is part of a larger project, whether undertaken by the same or different contractors, may not be divided into amounts less than $500 in an attempt to meet the $500 exemption.  Also, unlicensed handymen must provide the purchaser with written disclosure stating that they are unlicensed by the Contractors State License board, or the $500 exemption does not apply. Top


BILLING MEMBERS FOR LEGAL FEES

Q. 
When a homeowners' association is required to obtain legal advice in order to respond to a member of the association, can it charge the member for the attorney's fees?

A. 
No.  A homeowners' association is entitled to recover its attorney's fees from a member only when it prevails in a court proceeding or arbitration, usually in connection with the enforcement of the governing documents of the association. The only exception, is when the CC&Rs state otherwise. This is very uncommon. Top


REGULATIONS OF ASSOCIATIONS

Q. 
Our homeowners association in Lancaster is not being run properly by the board of directors.  Is there a government agency that has the power to oversee homeowners associations?

A. 
Unless the developer is still involved as an owner, no such government agency exists in California.  Every member of the association has the right to enforce the governing documents through the process of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which involves either mediation or arbitration, or through use of the courts.

If the developer is still involved, the California Department of Real Estate will have jurisdiction over some matters.

Some disputes are political in nature and have nothing to do with enforcement of the governing documents.  These types of disputes can only be resolved through the election process.  A board of directors of an association has the power to do a great deal of good or harm.  Consequently, electing a quality board is critical to the success of your association. Top


PARKING IN FIRE LANE

Q. 
Our homeowners association in Northridge has an owner who insists on parking his vehicle in a marked fire lane.  What can we do?

A. 
The association may cause the removal (towing) of any vehicle, without notice, if the vehicle  is:

(1)      Parked in a marked fire lane;

(2)      Parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant;

(3)      Parked in a space designated for handicapped persons without proper authority; or

(4)      Parked in a manner which interferes with any entrance to, or exit from, the common interest development or any separate interest contained therein.

If the offending vehicle is parked in an unauthorized area other than one of those areas set forth above, all of the following requirements must be satisfied before the vehicle may be towed:

(1)      A sign (not less than 17 x 22 inches in size with lettering not less than one inch in height) must be placed at each entrance to the common interest development that contains:

a)      A statement that public parking is prohibited and that all vehicles not authorized to park will be removed at the owner's expense, and 

b)      The telephone number of the local law enforcement agency.

          The sign may also indicate that a citation may be issued for the violation.

(2)      If the identity of the registered owner of the vehicle is known, or readily ascertainable, the president of the association, or his or her designee shall, within a reasonable time, notify the owner of the removal by first-class mail.

(3)      If the identity of the owner of the vehicle is not known or ascertainable, the president of the association or his or her designee shall immediately notify the Department of Justice in Sacramento in accordance with Section 22853 of the Vehicle Code. Top


CODE VIOLATION ON COMMON AREA

Q. 
Our association has built steps within the common area that don't meet the requirements of the building code.  What are the ramifications?

A. 
If someone is injured on the steps, the fact that they don't meet code will make it much easier for the plaintiff's attorney to prove that the association was negligent.  In short, it increases your association's risk.  The steps should be corrected to meet code. Top


POOLS AND SPAS

Q. 
I work for a small company that manages homeowner associations in Los Angeles County.  What is the minimum age allowed by law for unsupervised children to use a swimming pool or spa?

A. 
Unsupervised use by children under the age of fourteen is prohibited.  In addition, warning signs are required in accordance with Section 3119B.5 of the California Building Code and Title 22, Section 65539(c) of the Code of Regulations - Environmental Health.  Your pool maintenance company should be familiar with these requirements. Top


BOARD REFUSES TO OBTAIN RESERVE STUDY

Q. 
Our board of directors refuses to obtain a reserve study for our homeowner association. Can board members be held legally liable for negligence if they won't obtain a reserve-study?

A. 
Yes. Negligence is a civil wrong (tort) that has the following elements:

          (1) The defendant must owe a legal duty to conform to a certain standard of care for the protection of the plaintiff,

          (2) The defendant must have breached his duty by failing to conform his conduct to the required conduct,

          (3) The breach must be a legal cause of the plaintiff's injury, and

          (4) The plaintiff must have suffered actual harm.

The California Civil Code, with few exceptions, requires the board of directors of an association to obtain or prepare a reserve study at least once every three years. Whenever a board is required by law to do something, it owes a legal duty to act accordingly. Failing to obtain or prepare a legally required reserve study constitutes a clear breach of duty. If such a breach causes harm to members of the association, the legal elements of negligence have been satisfied and the members may successfully prevail in a suit.

Failure to obtain a serve study can result in any one or more of the following types of harm:

          (1) It may result in a large special assessment being imposed which some members of the association may find difficult or impossible to pay.

          (2) A member of the association may find it difficult to sell or refinance his or her home which may cost money or even result in a foreclosure. Buyers and lenders are becoming more knowledgeable and are often refusing to become involved with associations that do not comply with the law.

          (3) Owners may suffer the consequences of being a member of an association involved as a defendant in litigation brought by another member. Top


LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR BOARD MEMBERS

Q. 
I am considering running for election to the board of directors of my homeowners association. What types of protections are available to protect me against legal liability for negligent acts?

A. 
Under the California Civil Code, a director cannot be held personally liable if the director is acting:

          (1) As a volunteer (not paid);

          (2) Within the scope of the director's authority;

          (3) In good faith;

          (4) In the absence of willful, wanton or gross negligence; and

          (5) The association has both general liability and directors/officers liability insurance coverage ($500,000 minimum for 100 units or less, or $1,000,000 minimum if over 100 units).

Not withstanding the above, the association may be held liable for negligent acts of the board of directors.

In addition, the California Corporations Code also provides immunity if the director is acting:

          (1) In good faith,

          (2) In the best interest of the corporation,

          (3) In accordance with the business judgment rule, and

          (4) As a volunteer (not paid).

Immunities are not absolute. You should contact legal counsel for additional information and obtain comprehensive insurance coverage from a knowledgeable insurance broker. Top


WRONGFUL LIEN

Q. 
I live in a townhouse development with an association in Torrance.  The management company recently fined me for an alleged parking violation and then liened my property for non-payment.  The fine was only $25.  The lien fee is $350.  What can I do?

A. 
A monetary penalty imposed by an association as a disciplinary measure for failure of a member to comply with the governing documents, except for late payments, may not be treated as an assessment which may become a lien against the member's separate interest.  In short, the lien must be removed because it is not permitted by law.  In addition, your management company  is in violation of the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.  They have created a legal liability for your association as well as themselves. Top


DAMAGE TO PERSONAL PROPERTY

Q. 
During the recent rains, the roof to my condominium leaked through a crack causing damage to my furniture and other personal property. I have been informed by the association's insurance company that the master policy excludes coverage for my personal property. I don't have insurance. Can the association be held liable for not maintaining the roof?

A. 
Possibly. If the board of directors fell below the standard of care in maintaining the roof, they could be liable for negligence and would then be responsible for paying your damages. The fact that the roof leaked is insufficient, by itself, to prove negligence on the part of the board. For example, if the crack was new, the board would probably not be held liable for negligence. If the crack was old and the board failed to have the roof inspected, it would be more likely that a court would hold them liable. The facts of your case must be fully investigated before an educated opinion can be offered.

The lesson is clear. It is prudent for all condominium owners to obtain insurance to protect their property. It is inexpensive compared to the risk of harm an owner can suffer. Top


LIEN PROCEDURES

Q. 
Our association management company filed a lien against my home after giving me only ten days notice to pay my monthly assessment. They also charged me $495.00 for recording the lien. Can they do this?

A. 
No. Management companies are required to comply with the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Among other requirements of the Act, a thirty day written notice is required before a lien can be recorded to enforce payment of an assessment. Your management company should immediately release the lien, waive the fee and obtain legal advice before they get themselves and your association into serious legal trouble. Top


WRONGFUL LIEN

Q. 
The management company for our homeowner association recently hired a lien service to collect delinquent assessments from a member of our association. The lien company sent the debtor a written notice stating that he had 30 days to dispute the debt and that a lien would be recorded if the debt was not paid within ten days. The debtor did not pay within the ten days and the lien service has recently started a foreclosure. The debtor claims that our lien service has violated the law and demands that we stop all collection action. The lien service is owned and operated by an attorney. Who is correct?

A. 
The debtor is correct. The federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires that a debt collector provide the debtor with a 30-day notice before taking any collection action. Your association should immediately consult with another attorney that specializes in collection law. Your association may be liable for substantial damages, however, it appears that your association may have an excellent malpractice claim against the lien service. Top


FAILURE TO DISCLOSE

Q. 
We recently purchased a townhome in Valencia only to find out that the former owners had previously been notified in writing by the board of directors that their patio cover did not meet the architectural requirements of the community.  What can we do?

A. 
Section 1368 (a)(5) was recently added to the California Civil Code to deal with this type of problem.  Under this section, a copy or a summary of any notice previously sent to the owner that sets forth any alleged violation of the governing documents that remains unresolved must be provided to the prospective purchaser as soon as practical before transfer of title.

Any person or entity who willfully violates this section can be held liable to the purchaser for actual damages and, in addition, a fine not to exceed $500.00. Top


DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS OF ASSOCIATION

Q. 
Is a homeowner association required to make disclosures concerning the condition of the common area to prospective buyers of homes?

A. 
No. An association's disclosure obligation is to existing owners, not prospective owners. Owners who intend to sell are required to make such disclosures to prospective buyers.

If an association makes a disclosure to a prospective buyer and it is inaccurate, the association could be held liable. Top


 

SAFETY GLASS

Q. 
My rental home in Reseda was built before shower doors and sliding glass doors were required to have safety glass. My property has standard glass in both the shower doors and sliding glass door. I prefer not to spend the money to replace the glass. Is it necessary?

A. 
I strongly recommend that you replace the ordinary (annealed) glass with tempered glass or laminated glass, both of which are considered safety glass. Ordinary glass can break into dangerous shards that can cause horrific lacerations, resulting in major injuries and possibly death. The cost of replacement is nominal when contrasted to the possible harm from an accident.

Replacing ordinary annealed glass with safety glass will help to prevent injuries resulting, in part, from common accidents as well as earthquakes, wind storms, and even explosions.Top



CONFLICT OF INTEREST WITH LAW FIRM

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Santa Clarita needed a referral to a law firm that would represent us on a contingency basis. Our management company made a referral and our board of directors subsequently signed an agreement with the law firm that was referred to us. The retainer agreement called for the law firm to receive 40% and the management company to receive 10%. The management company was required to provide some minor administrative assistance to the law firm. The case settled for millions of dollars and consequently the management company was paid several hundred thousand dollars for less than $2,000 worth of services! The members were never informed of the arrangement. As a member of the association, I am very concerned about this situation. What do you suggest?

A. 
You should be concerned about your board, the law firm representing your association and your management company. The situation you described calls for a confidential consultation.
Top


ASSOCIATION SUED BY MEMBER

Q. 
Our management company recently recorded an assessment lien against the property of a delinquent homeowner. Before recording the lien, they carefully read the CC&Rs and then followed the requirements, only to find out afterwards that the CC&Rs were outdated and did not reflect the current law. As a result, we were sued by the delinquent homeowner and forced to pay a large sum of money to settle the case. Can we recover from our management company?

A. 
I believe you have a good negligence case. Your management company fell below the standard of care by failing to comply with the current legal requirements. The recordation of liens can have serious consequences and should be supervised by an attorney.

The situation you have described clearly illustrates the importance of amending your association’s CC&Rs in order to make certain they reflect current law.
Top


PITBULL

Q. 
Someone just moved into our condominium association in Cerritos, with a large pitbull dog. It hasn’t attacked anyone, but it is very aggressive and nearly everyone is concerned about it. Our CC&Rs are silent on the subject expect for permitting members to own up to two domestic animals. What should we do?

A. 
It would have been easier to prevent this problem by amending your CC&Rs before the pitbull was brought onto the property. Attempting to deal with the problem after the fact is much more difficult, but not impossible. The dog may constitute a nuisance which is probably a violation of your CC&Rs. More facts are needed to adequately answer your question. The lesson is clear, however: It is far better to address these types of issues with a CC&R amendment before the anticipated problem becomes a real problem.
Top


CAN’T AFFORD RESTATED OR AMENDED CC&RS

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Burbank is relatively small and can’t afford to restate or amend its CC&Rs even though they are obsolete. Do we have any options?

A. 
Yes. For a substantially reduced fee, we can review your CC&Rs and provide your HOA with a “CC&R Advisory” that can be distributed to the members of your homeowner association and attached to the association’s CC&Rs.

The CC&R Advisory is not a restatement or amendment and is not recorded. It does not have to be approved by the membership of your association. The CC&R Advisory is a legal opinion setting forth a summary of the major changes to the law enacted since your CC&Rs were approved and recorded. While not as beneficial as a restatement of your CC&Rs, it provides a valuable service at less than 20% of the cost.Top


DISABLED OR HANDICAPPED OWNERS

Q. 
Is an association required to make alterations to the common area in order to accommodate a member who is disabled or handicapped?

A. 
No. However, disabled or handicapped owners may make alterations to their units or the common area at their expense to accommodate their handicap. This may include the installation of handrails, wheelchair ramps or other modifications. The right to modify the common area is subject to the following:

  • Modifications must be consistent with applicable building codes;

  • Modifications must be consistent with the governing documents of the association;

  • Modifications may not impair the structural integrity of any structure or interfere with any mechanical systems;

  • Modifications may not prevent reasonable passage by other residents, and must be removed when the unit is no longer occupied by persons requiring the modifications; and

  • Owners who intend to make modifications must submit plans to the association and the association may not disapprove them without cause.Top


BOARD REFUSES TO REPIPE BUILDING

Q. 
Our condominium building in Los Angeles has old galvanized pipes that have been leaking for several years. The board makes repairs, but has refused to repipe the building because our reserves are inadequate. What is their legal duty?

A. 
The board should borrow the funds to repipe the building if possible. If a loan is not available, the board should immediately begin the process of increasing assessments so the work can be done at the earliest possible time.

Given that the board has knowledge of the deteriorating pipes, the association will probably be liable for the total cost of all repairs resulting from future leaks. Repiping will cut off the association's liability.Top


PIPE REPAIRS COVERED BY INSURANCE

Q. 
Will the association's insurance policy cover the cost of repairs resulting from the leaking of our building's old galvanized pipes?

A. 
Most insurance policies will not pay for such damage if it determines that the board knew of the deteriorating pipes and failed to replace them. Insurance policies generally cover only sudden, unexpected losses. Losses from old deteriorating galvanized pipes are expected.Top


SECURITY CAMERAS IN THE POOL AREA

Q. 
Our condominium association in Simi Valley is experiencing a great deal of unlawful activity around our pool area. Can we safely install security cameras in the pool area in order to discourage this type of activity?

A. 
Your association can and should install security cameras in the pool area if illegal activity is taking place. However, it is important that the cameras be installed in such a way as to avoid invading the reasonable expectation of privacy of people using the pool.

I recommend that you consult with an attorney before purchasing and installing any cameras in the pool area.Top


DUMMY CAMERAS

Q. 
The board of directors of our condominium association in Thousand Oaks is considering the installation of dummy cameras in our parking garage and entry areas to deter crime. I have been told this may not be a good idea. What is your opinion?

A. 
Dummy cameras are never a good idea because they create potential liability for the association. When owners, renters and visitors see dummy cameras, they often believe the premises are being monitored and therefore, they are reasonably safe. If a serious crime takes place, you can be certain the association will be named as a defendant. It is far better for the association to spend its money on real cameras to deter crime.

Check with an experienced insurance broker to determine if your association can qualify for a discount on its premiums if it installs real security cameras.Top


GUARDS AS EMPLOYEES

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Van Nuys is spending a great deal of money on several security guards at our condominium association. We are considering hiring our own guard employees who will be required to obtain guard cards. The board is split. Some board members are agreeable to paying more to a guard company even though it is more expensive. What is your opinion?

A. 
Do not hire your own guards. Hire a professional security firm that trains and supervises its guard employees. You will greatly reduce your association's potential liability. The money you will save is not worth the increased risk. If there is a serious incident at the property resulting in a lawsuit, you want the benefit of the guard company's insurance and expertise in training and supervising guards.Top


DAY CARE CENTERS

Q. 
Our HOA recently sent a letter to one of our members demanding that she
cease using her condominium as a day care center. The owner refused and told us that we cannot stop her from running a day care center as long as the
number of children does not exceed 14. Is this correct?

A. 
Yes, however there are some additional conditions. The California State Legislature has determined that day care centers may be operated in residential communities so long as the number of children does not exceed 14 and do not stay over 24 hours at a time. Other conditions include licensing, insurance, proper supervision of the children, indemnification of the homeowner association, and following certain regulations and operating procedures.Top


SECURITY SIGNS

Q. 
In order to provide better security, our board recently installed security cameras in the common area. Are we required to post signs informing members and visitors that we have surveillance cameras?

A. 
No. If the cameras are limited to common areas where there is no expectation of privacy, posting signs is not required. If the cameras are in the pool area, signs should be posted because of the greater expectation of privacy.

Notwithstanding, I believe posting such signs is a good idea because these types of signs act as an added deterent.Top


TRANSFER FEES

Q. 
Can a homeowners association charge a transfer fee when a home sells?

A. 
Yes. However, associations may charge no more than what is necessary to
defray the costs. This limitation does not apply to management companies.
Thus, if an association relies on its management company to handle all
record keeping, the association cannot charge a fee.Top


BUDGETS

Q. 
Our association in Santa Monica is self-managed. We do not have anyone capable of preparing a reliable budget. What do you suggest?

A. 
First, you should hire a management company that is capable of preparing
your budget. If you don't hire a management company, your association should interview reserve study providers. Some of these firms will prepare
association budgets for a fee.Top


VIOLENCE AT BOARD MEETINGS

Q. 
We recently had an incident at a board meeting where one member pushed another. Can we install a video camera in our community room and record our board meetings on video tape?

A. 
Yes. Installing cameras and recording the meetings is likely to deter such future conducts.Top


REAL ESTATE TAXES

Q. 
Are homeowner associations required to pay property taxes on the common areas?

A. 
No. Taxes on the common areas are paid by the members of the association through their individual tax bills. The value of the common areas is reflected in the value of each e required to paseparate interest. Notwithstanding, it is possible that an association could by a special district user fee, but this is not common.Top


FINES ON FINES

Q. 
Can the board of my condominium association levy a fine on a member of our association for failure to pay a prior fine?

A. 
No. Fines may be levied only for violating the Operating Rules or CC&Rs of an association assuming they are written so as to authorize fines.

Your association can sue a member of the association in small claims court for failure to pay a fine. The likelihood of having a judgment entered against a non - paying member, which will harm their credit, may be a greater incentive to pay a fine levied by the association through its board.  Top


THEFT OF HOA FUNDS

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Glendale has been self managed for many years. We have only 8 units. Our treasurer of twelve years recently embezzled most of our funds and now claims that she doesn’t have the ability to repay the association. What are our options?

A. 
This is a fairly common question without a simple answer. Your best course of action can only be determined after an examination of your association’s insurance policies, a determination of whether your former treasurer has equity in her home, and possibly a professional asset search. Sometimes we find that the guilty party has quietly cancelled the coverage for dishonest acts in an attempt to discourage the association from attempting to obtain restitution. Your association needs to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action.

One lesson is clear. It is dangerous for an association to place its funds under the control of one person or even two related people. There is no substitute for accounting checks and balances.  Top


FIRE RISK

Q. 
One of the homeowners in our condominium building in Thousand Oaks barbeques on his covered balcony. The board is very concerned about the possibility of a fire. Do you have any recommendations?

A. 
The barbeque may be a violation of California Fire Codes Sections 308.3.1 and 308.3.1.1 which state that open - flame cooking devices may not be operated on combustible balconies or within ten feet of combustible construction. The law also places limits on propane containers. You should check to see if your city has adopted these codes. The only exceptions are for single family dwellings and buildings that have automatic sprinkler systems that include all interiors, balconies, and decks.

Even if your building is excepted, the association board may adopt a rule prohibiting open fires on balconies.  Top


RULES FOR CHILDREN

Q. 
Our association board is very concerned about the safety of the children living within our condominium complex. Can we create a rule prohibiting children from skateboarding within the common areas?

A. 
Such a rule would probably be considered discriminatory. A rule prohibiting all persons from skateboarding would probably be enforceable.  Top


AGENT FOR SERVICE

Q. 
Due to no fault of our association board, we have had several management companies over the last few years. As a result, there has been confusion over who is the agent for service of process. We want to avoid this problem in the future. Any suggestions?

A. 
Many law firms will provide corporations, including non – profit mutual benefit corporations, with the service of being the legally designated agent for service of process for a nominal cost. Using a law firm avoids the risk that the association will be sued and a default entered for failing to respond on a timely basis.  Top


UNINSURED CONTRACTOR

Q. 
Our board insists on using a gardener who is uninsured because he does a good job and is inexpensive. What risks are we taking?

A. 
Too many for this column, but I will focus on the biggest risk. If your gardener is seriously injured on the job, his attorney is certain to make the claim that he was your employee and not an independent contractor. If your association does not cover the gardener under a workers' compensation insurance policy, the association may be sued for damages. Unless you purchase coverage , it is likely that the association’s insurance policy will not cover the cost of defense which means the association will be required to hire its own attorney on an hourly basis. If the injured person decides to file a claim with the UEF (Unemployed Employers Fund) which is the State of California, the UEF also has the power to fine an uninsured employer up to $10,000 per violation. Obviously, it is important to make certain that everyone working on the common area is insured.  Top


EVICTION OF TENANT BY BOARD

Q. 
Can the board of directors of our homeowners association evict the tenant of a member if the tenant is violating rules of the association?

A. 
No. Only the owner of a property can evict the tenant. If the tenant is violating rules of the Association, the board of directors should take action against the member. This can be in the form of a nuisance lawsuit or fines. Some associations have included language in their CC&Rs allowing the association to evict tenants. I believe this is a dangerous approach.  Top


MANAGEMENT OF RENTAL HOMES

Q. 
The management company of our homeowners association offers rental services to those members who desire to lease their units. Will permitting the management company to represent individual members in renting out their units create a conflict of interest?

A. 
It will not create a conflict of interest, but it will create a potential conflict of interest. Not withstanding the fact that a conflict could arise, it is my opinion that permitting the management company to represent individual members in renting their units is generally good for the association. When a management company rents a unit within an association, it normally takes the steps required to screen the potential tenants. Thus, it is more likely that the tenants will comply with the Rules and Regulations of the association.  Top


WATER INTRUSION AND MOLD

Q. 
My twenty year old condominium in Los Angeles is located on a large slope which means that part of my living room is below grade. The wall has been leaking for five years because of poor water proofing. I have complained to the board but they refuse to spend the money for repairs since I am the only owner with this problem. What can I do? I am certain the wall is full of mold. I cannot sell my unit under the circumstances and I have been turned down for a lower interest rate loan because of the problem.

A. 
If your CC&Rs are written like most, the HOA is responsible for the repair. There is no reason for you to suffer any longer. Experienced HOA attorneys will represent you on a contingency basis and will advance any costs required.  Top


COMPETITIVE BIDS

Q. 
We live in a common interest development. Based on the recommendation of our management company, our board of directors obtained three bids for landscaping maintenance and then selected the company with the highest bid. The bids were for identical work. Since all three companies were proposing to do the same work, shouldn’t our board have selected the lowest bid? Our monthly assessments are already too high and many of us live on fixed incomes.

A. 
The board should use its best judgment in deciding which company to use, based on all facts available. This is their legal duty. While the three companies may have submitted bids for the same work, it does not logically follow that all three companies will provide the same quality of work. Sometimes experience is helpful in determining which company will provide the highest quality work and, likewise, who will be the most reliable contractor. One of the advantages of hiring an established local management company, is that they have experience with contractors and can provide valuable recommendations to the board of directors.  Top


WATER INTRUSION CLAIM

Q. 
What is the most common claim made by a condominium unit owner against the association and how is it typically resolved?

A. 
The most common claim made by the owners of condominium units against their homeowner associations is that their unit is experiencing water intrusion because the association has failed to maintain the common area. Generally, this involves leaking roofs, decks, planters, walls, and windows, and often improper slopes and drainage. When a condominium unit owner makes a claim against the association, it is generally because the statue of limitations has run and therefore a claim cannot be made against the developer of the condominium community.

When a condominium unit owner has exhausted his or her patience with the board and files a lawsuit against the association, (not the board), the association will almost always contact its insurance company. Assuming there is coverage, the insurance company will hire a law firm to represent the association and the law firm will hire any appropriate experts needed to investigate the situation and provide advice on how to remedy the problem.

As part of the process, the plaintiff's attorney will hire one or more experts to provide advice and repair cost estimates.

After all experts have completed their investigations, have developed a scope of repairs, and cost estimates, a mediation session will be arranged so that the parties can avoid further litigation and settle the matter short of going to court. In 99% of these matters, the dispute is settled in mediation.

Settlements usually, but not always, consist of the following:

The association agrees to repair the common area in a manner that is acceptable to the expert working for the plaintiff's attorney;
   
The association agrees to pay the plaintiff a dollar amount sufficient to make interior repairs and pay for loss of use; and
   
The association agrees to pay all of the plaintiff's attorney fees and costs.
   
Most importantly, depending upon the insurance coverage, the cost of settling the case will be paid in part or completely by the insurance company.
Top
 


NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Q. 
Our condominium association in Westchester is experiencing a high level of vandalism and other criminal activity. In your experience, does a neighborhood watch program help?

A. 
An active neighborhood watch program can be an excellent deterrent to crime. Your association's management company should be able to assist you in establishing one for your community or you can get information on the internet. Most neighborhood watch groups will suggest the use of surveillance cameras and burglar alarms to maximize the safety of your members and their property.  Top


ELECTING A CONVICTED FELON

Q. 
A convicted felon was recently elected to our board and made treasurer. The board believes he has paid his debt and has learned a lesson. They claim he is now a model citizen. Many owners are very concerned. What are your thoughts?

A. 
It is not illegal to elect a convicted felon to the board of an association and it is not illegal to make the person treasurer. Notwithstanding, the fact should be disclosed in writing to your association’s directors and officers liability insurance carrier to determine whether they will cancel or not renew the policy if the individual continues to serve. In addition, if you have coverage for dishonest acts, you may run into the same problem. I believe it is a matter of poor judgment to elect this individual to the board and then make him the treasurer.   Top


CAN'T LOCATE PLANS

Q. 
Our homeowner association has serious water intrusion problems in the common areas. We have attempted several times to obtain a set of plans from the developer without success. What should we do?

A. 
Sections 19850 and 19851 of the California Health and Safety Code require that every city or county maintain a copy of the plans for every common interest development during the life of the building(s) for which the building department has issued a permit.

These plans and specifications are open for inspection and may be copied, with some limitations.

Your association board should also contact an attorney who specializes in construction defects as soon as possible. The "statutes of limitation" extinguish the legal rights of the association after the passage of time, as set forth in the various statutes.   Top


FUNDS FOR NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Q. 
The board of directors of our association would like to start a Neighborhood Watch group for our community. Is it appropriate for the board to spend association funds on modest refreshments to be served at neighborhood watch meetings and activities?

A. 
Yes, as long as the expenditures are reasonable. I suggest that your association create a line item in your annual budget for neighborhood watch expenditures. There are many good neighborhood watch websites on the internet that you may want to view for ideas on how to make your group successful.  Top


NO RESERVE STUDY

Q. 
Our homeowners association has not obtained a reserve study for more than four years. We do obtain audits each year. Can an audit report be truly accurate if we don't have a current reserve study, when the audit is completed?

A. 
No. Without a current reserve study, the balance sheet included in your audit report will reflect the numbers on your books, but it will not reflect your association's current, actual liability for future replacements. This liability may be substantial.

The California Civil Code requires associations to complete a reserve study every three years and to review it for accuracy each year. Not only are reserve studies required by law, they are excellent planning tools.  Top


CLAIM AGAINST HOA FOR DEFECTS

Q. 
We live in a large townhome community in Riverside County, which has extensive common areas. There are numerous construction defects associated with the common areas. Unfortunately, the law firm which represents the association has advised us that we no longer have the ability to sue the developer due to the board's failure to take action on a timely basis. Do we as individual homeowners have the right to sue the association for the purpose of forcing it to correct the construction defects?

A. 
Yes. A condominium unit owner has legal standing to bring a claim for damages against the association for the cost of remedying defects to the common area. This rule has been established by many court decisions. In accordance with California law and the provisions included in most CC&Rs, the association is required to maintain and repair the common areas. This duty to repair and maintain the common areas exists, even though the association may be required to special assess its members to obtain the money to make the repairs. I strongly suggest you contact counsel to discuss this matter. This is a complex area of the law.  Top


CHILDREN'S USE OF SPA

Q. 
Can our association prohibit children from using our spa? We are concerned about safety.

A. 
Yes. You are probably safe in prohibiting children under the age of six from using the spa even with adult supervision. Children between the ages of six and thirteen must always be supervised by a responsible adult..  Top


USE OF CLUBHOUSE

Q. 
Can our association adopt a rule prohibiting the use of our clubhouse for religious study? We are concerned about the possible teaching from the Qur'an.

A. 
No. As long as all other rules are complied with, members may use the clubhouse for any religious studies.  Top


DON'T PURCHASE CONDOMINIUM

Q. 
We were about to make an offer to purchase a condominium in Los Angeles when we learned that the board’s attempt to get restated CC&Rs failed to get approved. The existing CC&Rs were recorded in 1998 so they are totally obsolete and do not reflect the current laws. The proposed CC&Rs are in no way harmful to the membership, make many improvements, and most importantly, reflect the current laws. There is really no good reason for members of the association to vote them down other than ignorance. I am concerned and would like your opinion.

A. 
I would recommend that you purchase a condominium in another community. The type of community you have described is not a good place to invest your money. There are many condominiums on the market where the membership understands the value of modern CC&Rs.  Top


DEPARTMENT OF REAL ESTATE

Q. 
Does the Department of Real Estate assist with the enforcement of homeowner association bylaws and CC&Rs?

A. 
Homeowner associations are subject to the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (California Civil Code Sections 1350 et seq.), which is designed to provide homeowners with a system of self government and dispute resolution. The Department of Real Estate reviews the legal framework of all new homeowner associations to ensure compliance with the Subdivided Lands Law through the public report application process prior to the homes being offered for sale to the public. Once sales have commenced, the Department’s jurisdiction is limited to the subdivider’s obligations under the public report, which does not include intervention in association disputes. Presently, there is no state or local agency that regulates associations or their members.  Top


INSPECTION OF RECORDS

Q. 
Do members of the HOA have the right to inspect correspondence between the board and the association’s attorney?

A. 
No. It is absolutely privileged.  Top


PIT BULLS

Q. 
Can we amend our CC&Rs to prohibit pit bulls and other aggressive breeds of dogs?

A. 
Yes. Your insurance company will love you for it.  Top


WAIVING RESERVE STUDY

Q. 
We live in a small homeowners association in Burbank. Can our board of directors waive the legal requirement for a reserve study?

A. 
No.  Top


DELINQUENCY ANNOUNCED

Q. 
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate for the board of directors of a homeowner association to inform the membership of a serious delinquency in the payment of monthly assessments?

A. 
Yes. A board may disclose a delinquency when its collection action has reached the stage of a lawsuit. When an association becomes involved in litigation, the members are entitled to notice. The filing of a suit places the matter in the public domain and is material to the financial condition of the association. California Civil Code Section 47 protects the association as plaintiff from liability for defamation or disclosure of private information under the “litigation privilege”.  Top


WATER DAMAGE

Q. 
I own a condominium and have suffered a substantial loss due to water damage. I want to file a claim with the association's insurance carrier but our board and management company will not allow it. Am I within my rights to file a claim?

A. 
Yes. Members of an association are considered additional insureds under the association's policy and therefore have an absolute right to benefit from the association's coverage. It is your policy as much as it is the association's policy.

California Code of Regulations, Title 10 Chapter 5, Subchapter 8 states that an insurance agent is obligated to immediately transmit a notice of claim to the insurance company regardless of whether the claim is made by the association or homeowner.

Also note that in accordance with section 1365 (e) (I) of the California Civil Code, the association's board is required to distribute to all of its members a summary of its insurance policies, including but not limited to, the name of the insurer(s) within sixty days preceding the beginning of the association's fiscal year.  Top


CONDOMINIUM UNIT ABOVE LEAKS

Q. 
The condominium above ours has a defective shower pan that leaks into our home. Our management company insists that we must deal directly with the person above us and will offer no assistance. Their position is that the association has no power to act. Are they correct, or should they take action to force the owner with the leaking pan to repair it?

A. 
Your association has the power to act whenever common area property is being damaged by a member of the association. If the defective shower pan is allowing water to wet the internal structure of the building (common area), it may cause dry rot, electrical problems, or other damage. Thus, the association has the power to act.

If your management company and association will not provide you with assistance, you may take legal action yourself. Before filing a suit against your neighbor, your attorney should review your CC&Rs. If a claim can be brought for the enforcement of the CC&Rs, you may be entitled to recovery of legal fees.  Top


AREA FLOODS AROUND TOWNHOUSE

Q. 
The common area of our homeowner association floods around the area of my townhouse every time we get a strong rain. The water easily reaches a depth of six inches which causes foundation movement and resulting interior damage. The flooding and damage are due to the failure of our board of directors to maintain the existing drainage system and to enhance it where needed. Is our association legally responsible for such maintenance?

A. 
Probably. In accordance with section 1364 (a) of the California Civil Codes, “Unless other wise provided in the declaration of a common interest development, the association is responsible for repairing, replacing, or maintaining the common areas other than exclusive use common areas***”

While you should check your CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), it is highly unlikely that they require anyone other than the association to maintain the area described.  Top


HOA SUSPENDED

Q. 
Our association's management company recently informed the board that the corporate status of the association had been suspended. How does a homeowner association become suspended and what are the consequences?

A. 
Possible reasons for suspension are:

Failure to pay taxes,
Failure to file taxes,
Failure to file a Statement by Domestic nonprofit Corporation, or
Failure to file a Statement by Common Interest Development

The consequences include the loss of:

The right to bring and defend lawsuits,
The right to collect assessments,
The right to enforce contracts with contractors and vendors, and
The right to enter into contracts.

A suspended corporation (association) can be revived. When this occurs, a Notice of Revivir is provided by the Secretary of State.  Top


DAMAGE TO COMMON AREAS

Q. 
The board of directors of our homeowner association in Huntington Beach is permitting members of our association to grow ivy on the exterior stucco of our buildings. The stucco is common area that must be repaired by the association if the ivy damages it. Since I don't want to be responsible to pay for stucco repairs through my association dues in the future, what should I do?

A. 
First, point out to your board the specific provisions in your CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) that obligate the association to maintain the stucco. Next, point out the fact that the future stucco repairs are only one potential liability being created by permitting the ivy to grow on the stucco. When ivy or other vines cause the water-proofing quality of stucco to be destroyed, moisture can enter the buildings causing substantial interior damage, including but not limited to mold infestation. Some molds are highly toxic resulting in immune system disorders and other serious medical problems. In short, your board is assuming a big and unnecessary risk by allowing ivy or other plant materials to grow on the stucco.  Top


SUSPENSION OF ASSOCIATION

Q. 
How can I determine if my homeowner association has been suspended by the California Secretary of State?

A. 
First, go to the California Secretary of State website: www.sos.ca.gov. Then click on the “Business Entities” button. Next, click on “California Business Search”. Type the exact name of your association into the “corporations search bar” and click on search. The exact name will be found in the bylaws. When the name comes up on the screen, click on it. The "status" will indicate either active or suspended.  Top


HOA SUSPENSION

Q. 
What happens if our homeowners association has been suspended by the Secretary of State?

A. 
This is a serious problem. Most importantly, your association may not be able to defend itself in court or use the courts to assert its rights. There are also fines to pay and other legal consequences. You should have your association attorney or CPA resolve any deficiencies and most importantly, determine the reason for the suspension. Usually, suspensions result from the failure to file tax returns or other required forms. If your management company is solely at fault, it should pay any fines and costs.  Top


UNINCORPORATED HOA

Q. 
Our association in Santa Monica is not incorporated. Do you recommend that we incorporate?

A. 
Yes. The cost is relatively small and incorporation will reduce the association's liability. There is a long history of case law which provides protections and procedural guidelines that do not apply to unincorporated associations.  Top


BOARD REFUSES TO SUE DEVELOPER FOR DEFECTS

Q. 
I live in a large condominium community in San Bernardino County with extensive common areas. The community is only two years old. While we have several serious construction defects, the board refuses to sue the developer because they want to avoid litigation and would rather special assess to repair the defects. Do I, as a member of the association, have the right to sue the developer for these defects?

A. 
Yes. As a member of a condominium association, you have standing to file suit. You should immediately consult with a construction defect attorney concerning your rights because they can be lost if you delay taking action.  Top


RECUSAL OF BOARD MEMBER

Q. 
When is it appropriate for a member of our homeowner association board to recuse himself?

A. 
A board member should recuse or disqualify himself or herself because of self interest, bias or prejudice. If a board member does not recuse himself or herself when required, he or she will have a conflict of interest. If a board member votes on a matter where he or she has a conflict of interest, he or she violates his or her fiduciary duty.  Top


RESPONSIBILITY FOR WATER DAMAGE

Q. 
Can our condominium association amend its CC&Rs to make every condominium owner responsible for interior damage caused by water intrusion?

A. 
Yes. However, unit owners may still claim that the association is responsible for such repairs due to negligence.  Top


INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE

Q. 
Our association just lost a case in small claims court over the issue of who is responsible for paying the association's insurance deductible. Can we amend our CC&Rs to address this subject?

A. 
Yes. It is common for associations and homeowners to argue over who has responsibility for paying the insurance deductible because many CC&Rs don't adequately address this subject.  Top


HOA INVESTMENTS

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Beverly Hills recently lost money on its mutual fund account. Is a board of directors allowed to invest association funds in a mutual fund?

A. 
Absolutely not. All funds must be placed in an insured account in a bank, savings and loan association or credit union. Top


CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Q. 
Our board recently spent almost $500 on having our condominium buildings professionally decorated for Christmas. While the cost was less than $10 per unit, I would like to know if they have legal authority to use our funds this way?

A. 
Unless the CC&Rs of your association prohibit such an expenditure, the board can exercise its judgment by voting on the matter at an open meeting. The trend is for more and more homeowner associations to decorate their common areas for Christmas and other holidays such as the 4th of July. Top







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