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

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Many homeowners want hard surface flooring instead of carpet. And they will often present a prescription from their doctor for a hard wood floor in an effort to get around their association’s restrictions or prohibitions on hard surface flooring. Yes, a prescription for a hard wood floor on a doctor’s prescription form. But anyone that works with condos knows that hard surface flooring may create nuisance problems for the downstairs neighbor. And when the downstairs neighbor complains to the board about the hard surface floor that was not approved and violates the CC&Rs, the board is sometimes reluctant to take legal action thinking that a court is not going to rule in its favor. The California Court of Appeal debunked that thinking in the case of Ryland Mews v. Munoz upholding a California condominium association’s ability to limit hard surface flooring in response to nuisance complaints.

The story in the Ryland Mews case is all too familiar. Munoz moved into their upstairs unit at Ryland Mews and replaced the carpets with hardwood floors allegedly to accommodate the wife’s severe dust allergy. And it was not to soon after that when the downstairs neighbors complained about the additional noise they were now hearing.

When the association’s manager wrote to Munoz regarding the complaints and the fact that the alteration of the flooring was made without prior approval of the association, Munoz did not respond within the 30 days Management had given them. Management wrote to Munoz again, this time requesting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) under the Davis-Stirling Act. Munoz still did not respond to the Association’s Request for Resolution.
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By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

7_New_PA_Laws_That_May_Change_Your_Life_In_2016___Patch.pngAs we previously reported, (follow this link) Section 5300 of the Civil Code was amended in 2015 and becomes effective as of July 1st of 2016. The changes to section 5300 of the Civil Code requires California community associations to include statements in their annual budget reports disclosing whether the Association is certified by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Affairs (VA).

If an Association’s fiscal year runs on or after July 1, 2016, it will be required to include the FHA and VA required information in the Annual Budget Report.

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

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The list is out, and an article in the LA Times reports that neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and the Westside will feel the biggest impact from Los Angeles’ new law requiring the retrofitting of wood-frame apartment buildings to better withstand a major earthquake, according to a Times data analysis.

The article tells us that LA City inspectors spent about two years developing a list of 13,500 so-called soft-story buildings that will probably need seismic strengthening. And that list includes soft condominium associations, likely apartment buildings that were converted to condos. So, your condominium association may be on the list.
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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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SwedelsonGottlieb’s Senior Partner Sandra Gottlieb is honored to make another appearance on the second “episode” of The HOA Show, an educational luncheon presented by the Channel Islands Chapter of Community Associations Institute. Join us on April 26th for this fun format, where you can find out more about the following topics:

• Current events, trends and ideas occurring in the HOA industry and your communities • Is HOA living all negative? Navigating your way through Homeowner complaints, issues and demands.

• New industry developments & technology news: drones, electronic voting and dealing with issues of potential defamation on social media • Privacy Issues: Can members record a board meeting and use it as evidence against the board? Can boards enforce a “no recording” policy?

By David Swedelson, Senior Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

trivial_walkway_defects_-_Google_Search.pngI recently assisted a large condominium association in dealing with a claim by an owner that she had fallen and injured herself after tripping on a common area walkway. Management looked at the area where this woman claimed to have fallen, and all they could find was a slightly raised area of concrete – a trivial defect. It reminded me of a 2011 Court of Appeal decision in the case of Cadam v. Somerset Gardens Townhouse HOA involving a 63-year-old woman who was injured when she fell after tripping on a separation in a concrete walkway next to the townhome she was leasing.

In that case, Cadam filed an action against the homeowner’s association and its management company claiming causes of action for premises liability and negligence. She alleged that the walkway had shifted and adjacent sections had separated such that they differed in height by three-fourths to seven-eighths of an inch, creating a dangerous condition.

Following a jury verdict in favor of the injured resident, the trial court granted the association’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (meaning that despite what the jury found, the judge felt that the evidence was not sufficient to justify the jury’s decision and set it aside). And the judge did this despite the fact that the association’s president had testified that a defect of one-half inch or more is “probably” dangerous. The court found that no reasonable person could find that the condition was not a trivial defect under the circumstances.
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The following is reposted from Community Association Institute’s (CAI) Government Affairs Division:

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On March 29, federal housing agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae released a standardized set of lender questionnaires for condominium unit mortgages. The Uniform Condominium Questionnaire is intended to reduce the burden on community associations that routinely provide condominium project information to mortgage lenders.

To comply with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgage purchase guidelines, mortgage lenders must verify financial and property standards for condominium projects. Over the past two years, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae worked with CAI and the mortgage lender community to develop a uniform condominium questionnaire to ease the process of obtaining this information. Lenders will now have two options when requesting information from a condominium association.

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 David Swedelson, Senior Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

lawyers.pngIt is a common scenario. A homeowner (usually disgruntled or in trouble with their association) either wants 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. This situation raises three hotly contested issues: (1) Do homeowners have the right to have their attorney present at board meetings? (2) Can homeowners delegate their right to attend board meetings to nonmembers? and (3) Does it make a difference in delegating powers to attend board meetings if the owner of a unit is a natural person or an entity? We have not had a solid answer to these questions. That is, until the Court of Appeal came down with its decision in the case of SB Liberty, LLC, v. Isla Verde Association, Inc. Based on this decision, we can definitively say that the answer to all three questions is NO.

The Court ruled in SB Liberty (in May of 2013) 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 owners cannot have their attorney, or any other nonmember, attend in their place.

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