Condominium Balcony, Stair and Walkway Inspections and Repairs: January 1, 2025 State-Mandated Deadline.


On January 1, 2020, the State legislature added California Civil Code § 5551 to require condominium associations with certain elevated exterior elements (“EEEs”) such as decks, balconies, walkways, stairs, and related railings to be inspected by January 1, 2025. This new law is often referred to as the “Balcony Bill” or SB326 as that was the bill number before being passed into law in year 2019. The cause for this legislation was due to the collapse of a balcony that caused several deaths and so the purpose of these inspections is to make sure EEEs are safe to use and if unsafe, limit access until such EEEs are repaired.

ADUs: Strategic Solution to California’s Housing Shortage

Recent California laws enacted in 2023 and 2024, make it easier for homeowners to obtain permits for building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their lots. An ADU is an additional residential structure built on the same lot as a primary structure. These new California laws were enacted to increase the housing supply across the state, which, by doing so, significantly amends California state laws in favor of homeowners who want to build ADUs on their properties.  The new laws have an astounding impact on the changes to housing infrastructures. Below is a breakdown of the changes to the process of approving an ADU, the location of where an ADU may be constructed, the allowable size of an ADU, and the occupancy and ownership rights that homeowners now have in relation to their ADU.

The Process

If you have read or watched the news in the last few months, you know that Associations should consider adopting policies to address e-bike safety issues. Some associations may already have rules prohibiting wheeled recreational devices, like bikes, scooters, and skateboards, from being used in the common area where there are likely to be people walking. Of course, every association wants to avoid a resident or guest from being struck. With the recent trend in e-bikes, where top speeds of e-bikes can be 28 mph or higher, associations should be even more concerned as a crash at that speed is likely to result in some damage to person(s) or property.

There is another e-bike concern that association boards may have not considered—the risk of fires. There has been a rise of resident e-bike fires in which buildings have caught fire and people have died. For example, as of the end of October 2022, New York City Fire Department reported that it investigated 174 battery fires (almost double of 2021 (104 fires) and quadruple of 2020 (44 fires)), 6 people died from e-bike related fires, and 93 people were injured.  How does this happen?  The fires are related to the e-bike batteries which are typically made of lithium, a highly combustible and flammable substance.  If a lithium battery is large enough, water or a regular fire extinguisher may not even work to put out the fire. 

The reason for e-bike battery issues seems to stem from overcharging/overheating, using different chargers for multiple batteries/bikes, and the continued use of beat-up old batteries.  Where is this occurring?  These issues appear to be more common in dense, highly urban areas where commuters and delivery persons are more likely to frequently use e-bikes. 

By Leena Danpour, Esq.

California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD), formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has the responsibility of enforcing state fair housing laws, such as California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which makes it illegal for housing providers[1] to discriminate against tenants with a protected characteristic.[2] 

 Many boards of directors want to gain control or maintain oversight over prospective tenants renting out units in their community, because, in their opinion, many tenants fail to abide by the Rules and other Governing Documents of an association. However, taking on the control and oversight of tenant approval will likely expose the association and board to liability.  Why?  Because they would now be subject to the regulations set forth by the CRD and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which in turn would subject the association and board to potential discrimination lawsuits from tenants who have not been approved to live at the association. 

By Rochelle Ceballos, CMCA

For homeowners, returning to a warm and welcoming environment after a long day’s work is a cherished and vital part of finding solace and comfort. For community managers of Community Associations, it is our responsibility to cultivate an atmosphere that embraces this notion wholeheartedly. The key lies not only in maintaining well-manicured landscapes and pristine facilities but also in ensuring that the interactions within the community are characterized by understanding, respect, and a commitment to de-escalation. This article explores effective techniques for defusing tense situations with angry homeowners, offers insights into creating a harmonious and inclusive community where residents feel heard and valued, and provides valuable tips for staying in the good graces of the Board and the homeowner’s association, enabling you to foster a positive relationship that supports the vision and well-being of your community.

How many times has a homeowner called you or come into your office frustrated, angry and demanding to speak to the manager. If you’re like me, you likely waited to see how your team handled it first because empowerment and leadership are important for the entire team. Once you realize the situation may need additional finesse, leaning into assist the team and address the situation swiftly and calmly its key. Or perhaps you’re a portfolio manager, juggling multiple communities without onsite support.  Either way, it’s important to take yourself out of the equation. Most likely you didn’t do anything to upset homeowner so it’s important to understand what is driving this energy. As you can imagine, we all have very long days and fall short when it comes to showing grace at times; thus, it’s important for us to exercise such grace and demonstrate this to our teams to provide that exceptional energy to homeowners, when they need it most.

As many condominium association boards know, hard surface flooring is a popular trend and homeowner demands for its installation are increasing. Benefits of hard surface flooring include its hypoallergenic properties and its durability, and some homeowners simply prefer its aesthetics. In view of this, associations need to consider the following important factors when dealing with hard surface flooring requests or issues.

1. What Do the Governing Documents State? First and foremost, association boards need to review and be familiar with their CC&Rs provisions related to hard surface flooring. Review the architectural section to determine whether hard surface flooring is even subject to architectural review and approval. For example, some CC&Rs allow an owner to install improvements such as hard surface flooring inside the airspace of a unit as long as the common area structural components are unaffected. If the CC&Rs do not subject hard surface flooring to architectural review, then an owner may proceed with installation (subject to the provision referenced in Item 3, Nuisance, below*).  Associations should also review the prohibited use section of the CC&Rs. Sometimes this section prohibits hard surface flooring entirely and sometimes only in certain circumstances (e.g., it is permitted for homes located on the first floor but not for upper floors of a building).  The rules and regulations of an association should be consistent with the authority granted by the CC&Rs. If the CC&Rs do not enable an association to regulate hard surface flooring, then it can only do so through the enforcement of a nuisance provision (see Item 3, Nuisance, below*). An association may be successfully challenged in court if it imposes standards beyond the authority granted by the CC&Rs.

2. Establish Consistent Flooring Standards. Putting members on notice of hard surface flooring standards is key to minimizing future architectural and nuisance disputes. Such standards allow owners to plan ahead and avoid costly mistakes. This also allows the association to act consistently and avoid claims of selective enforcement or special treatment in regard to architectural applications or owner violations. These standards should be in either the CC&Rs of an association or its rules and regulations, such as the architectural guidelines section.

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