Articles Posted in Legislative Developments

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From the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

The minimum wage is going up. As a result of a change in the law to take effect on January 1, 2017, the statewide minimum wage will gradually increase over the next six years until it hits $15 per hour. Further, Los Angeles and San Francisco already have their own laws in place to hit this mark even sooner and may see higher increases depending on the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

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The wage increase will affect an associations existing employees and will likely impact any association’s existing and potential vendor contracts. Roughly one-third of all California employees are paid minimum wage, and many vendors serving associations rely heavily on minimum wage employees. In the past, California has increased the minimum wage by 1-3% annually, but the pending increase represents a 50% rise over six years, which represents a considerable cost for any vendor to absorb. As a result, vendors will undoubtedly pass along their higher labor costs to the associations they serve.

new_leglisation_notice_to_owners_to_provide_contact_information_-_Google_Search.pngBy the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb.

Starting January 1, 2017, every California community association will be required to ask its members to provide their contact information and property status. New Civil Code § 4041 will require, starting January 1, 2017, that each association must solicit the following information from its members:

1. The mailing address where notices from the association are to be delivered;

fair_housing_harassment_-_Google_Search.pngFrom the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

An update to the Fair Housing Act, effective October 14, 2016, clarifies an association’s responsibility to address discriminatory conduct and harassment by its residents. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and housing-related services due to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status (42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.). Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices Under the Fair Housing Act

This update to the Fair Housing Act clarifies that an association is directly liable for failing to take prompt action to end any third party’s discriminatory housing practice if the association knew or should have know about it and had the power to correct it. A commentator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stated, “a community association generally has the power to respond to third-party harassment by imposing conditions authorized by the association’s CC&Rs or by other legal authority […].”* Accordingly, an association must take some action to address any alleged discrimination by residents or other people within its authority.

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

Signs_of_Mold_in_House.pngEffective January 1, 2016, California Senate Bill 655 amended provisions of the California Health and Safety Code, specifically Sections 17920 and 17920.3. Although the Health and Safety Code impacts almost all persons and entities in California to some extent, SB 655 and the changes it makes to the Code will likely have a more direct impact on California community associations than was even intended by the legislature.

The new legislation adds to the Health and Safety Code a definition for mold as microscopic organisms or fungi that can grow in damp conditions in the interior of a building. It is worth noting that because there is no scientific definition of mold, the new law’s definition is not scientific in nature and may prove vague going forward. More importantly, the changes to the law will add the presence of visible mold to the Health and Safety Code’s recognized list of conditions upon which a residential multi-unit building can be considered as substandard.

Although visible mold growth is being added to the foregoing list of substandard conditions, it is important to remember that the statute will specifically exclude the presence of mold that is “minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use.” Additionally, the list of conditions in the statute only rise to a “substandard” level to the extent the condition, in this case mold, endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety or welfare of the public or occupants of the building. We expect that there will be some debates on this.

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By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

Housing_Opportunity_through_Modernization_Act_-_Google_Search.pngCommunity Associations Institute (CAI) announced today that on Friday, July 29 President Barack Obama signed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act. H.R. 3700 is now federal law.

CAI reports that H.R. 3700 reforms the process used by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to determine if condominium unit owners qualify for a mortgage with FHA insurance. FHA does not originate mortgage loans, but instead insures mortgages against default.

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

california_legislation_-_Google_Search-1.pngI recently posted to HOALAWBLOG an article entitled California HOA/Condo Owners Do Not Have The Right To Have Their Attorney Attend The Association’s Board Meetings — SB Liberty, LLC, v. Isla Verde Association, Inc. In that article, I addressed the question of whether homeowners have a right to have their attorney present at board meetings and addressed the Court of Appeal’s decision in the case of SB Liberty, LLC, v. Isla Verde Association, Inc. Based on this decision, we can definitively say that members do not have the right to bring their attorney to an association board meeting.

The Court ruled in SB Liberty that Section 1363.05 of the California Civil Code (now found in Civil Code Section 4925) specifically states that members may attend an association’s board meetings. This means that members cannot have their attorney, or any other nonmember, attend in their place.

We also recently posted an article entitled Oppose AB1720-HOA Members Should Not Be Able To Have Their Attorney Attend Community Association Board Meetings.

Here/below is my letter that I am sending to the legislature to let them know that I am opposed to AB1720 and with good reasons (and if you like my letter, follow this link for a similar one that I formatted for board members and managers to send):
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By David Swedelson, Senior Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

california_legislation_-_Google_Search.pngOn March 29, 2016, we posted an article regarding the SB Liberty, LLC, v. Isla Verde Association, Inc. Court of Appeal decision that confirms the law that only owners or members of an a California community association are entitled to attend association board meetings. Follow this link to review our prior post. As we stated in that article, it is not uncommon for a homeowner, usually disgruntled or in trouble with their association, to either want their attorney to attend a board meeting with them or in their place. Often, we hear about it after the meeting where the attorney appeared on behalf of their client and intimidated the board. The Court of Appeal confirmed that members do not have the right to have their attorney attend association board meetings.

Now, we want you to know that the legislature is considering new law that would allow an association member to bring their attorney to board meetings, which would make the foregoing case law no longer applicable. We and just about everyone in the community association industry oppose AB1720, and for good reason.
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By Mark Petrie, Marketing Coordinator at SwedelsonGottlieb

FHA-Loans-florida.jpgH.R. 3700 has passed the House of Representatives and now moves on to the Senate, to the cheer of affordable housing advocates and Community Associations Institute, which issued this letter of support to the bill’s sponsors. This is a positive development for condominium associations, as part of the bill directs the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement and consider reasonable changes to the certification and recertification process for condominium FHA approval.

Although the details of exactly how the FHA approval requirements will be revised are largely to be determined by the Secretary, if the bill becomes law in its current form, it would likely be much easier to obtain and retain FHA approval. The bill directs the Secretary to:

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We received an urgent message from the office of Government Affairs at Community Associations Institute’s national office regarding the federal legislation on HAM radios, H.R. 1301. We previously reported on this legislation but it has passed another hurdle, so we are again requesting that you contact your representative to voice your opposition to this legislation. The following is the message we received from CAI:

As you may recall, last month the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 (S. 1685) passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Your action is needed today, as the bill will likely be referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee for debate.

H.R. 1301 invalidates community association rules and architectural standards that govern the installation and use of amateur radio towers and antennas. If this bill should become law, Congress will be able to rewrite the private, contractual agreement that you signed upon buying into your community association.

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California homeowner associations can no longer prohibit the drying of clothes on outdoor clotheslines after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill restricting homeowners associations from banning same. This legislation was opposed by a number of groups who felt that clotheslines are unsightly additions to neighborhoods.

Assemblywoman Patty López (D-San Fernando) announced Brown signed her bill, AB 1448, which will allow line drying for people once restricted by their property management organizations or homeowner associations.

“Growing up, my family and many of my neighbors used clotheslines as the way to dry their clothes and other laundry,” López said in a statement. “Californians can now do their part for the environment while saving money on their electric bill by using the sunlight to dry their laundry.”

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