Articles Posted in Current Affairs

Screenshot_6_16_20__11_21_AM-300x175By David Swedelson, Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

Interesting story out of Florida About an 86-year-old owner who wanted to do something to show his support for the black lives matter movement. He wanted to stand in solidarity with those that are protesting to protect black lives, so, with the help of his granddaughter, he wrote out “Black Lives Matter” in chalk paint on the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony of his condo. His neighbors confronted him and also complained to management, and the association’s manager told him to remove the sign.

This owner was not deterred and he wanted to figure out a way to get what he felt was an important message across, so he and his granddaughter took the paint off the window and replaced it with cardboard cut-outs that spell out “BLM.” They hung the letters from the door on the inside of the condo using fishing wire — a display that could be considered interior art.

weird_swimming_pools_-_Google_Search-300x147From the attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

At the same time as the State announced that California has become the fourth state in the country to surpass 100,000 coronavirus infections and that 100,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, Los Angeles County issued a new order allowing for community association pools to reopen so long as certain protocols are followed. The new LA County Order does not mandate that associations open their pool(s). The association’s owners and residents will likely make a demand on the board to reopen the pool; what’s a board to do?

The first thing is to acknowledge that compliance with the new Order will not be easy. Some associations may opt not to open or not open until the association is able to administer the required protocols. These protocols are important. Let us not forget that LA County is still considered a coronavirus “hotspot” and that means that we must all do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The news is filled with stories of people in California crowding certain recreation areas, pools, restaurants and beaches and not wearing masks and how these conditions have led to outbreaks in other states. Community association boards that decide to open pools, must follow the mandatory LA County protocols. In addition, they must make sure that residents comply.

Follow this link to read the new Order/protocol that the County issued for opening the pool(s). This protocol must be adhered to at all times and provides specific guidance/restrictions/limitations on reopening and use of the pools, including the deck area.

Continue reading

SwedelsonGottlieb is sharing one of a series of webinars featuring founding partner Sandra L. Gottlieb and a panel of attorneys from across North America moderated by Andrew Fortin discussing how community associations are responding to and addressing issues about amenities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As we continue to navigate the wave of this pandemic, we continue to urge you all to take COVID-19 and your health and wellness seriously. Be patient and thoughtful of your neighbors, community and those who are suffering the effects of COVID-19. And for those that are not infected, we all need to wear a mask and socially distance from others when out in public.

Screenshot_4_21_20__10_26_AM-300x110Prepared by the California Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

By now, most people have heard about the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (2020 H.R. 748). The breadth and scope of this Act, and the speed at which it passed both houses of a divided Congress and became law, is truly remarkable in these partisan times and speaks to the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Act is a massive stimulus bill that contains a variety of different programs of grants, loans, credits, debt forgiveness, and tax changes. Each of these programs is administered differently and has different criteria for eligibility.

Two of the Act’s provisions have become of particular interest to community associations: the federal Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Grant program (the EIDL Loans which are available to HOAs), and the Paycheck Protection Program (the PPP which is not currently available to HOAs).

Continue reading

SwedelsonGottlieb would like to share one of a series of webinars featuring Founding Partner, Sandra L. Gottlieb, and a panel of attorneys from across North America moderated by Andrew Fortin, as they discuss how community associations are responding to and addressing issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As we continue to navigate the wave of this pandemic, we continue to urge you all to take COVID-19 and your health and wellness seriously, be patient and thoughtful of your neighbors, community and those who are suffering the effects of COVID-19.

COVID-19__Force_Majeure_Event____Shearman___Sterling-300x131The spread of the coronavirus/COVID-19 has caused and will likely continue to cause unexpected interruption in the business of many California community associations. Many of our association clients are in the middle of large common area refurbishment and restoration projects. With increasing restrictions and/or recommendations by public officials and others intended to control the spread of the coronavirus, contractors/vendors may suspend or cease services/work and advance “force majeure” as a defense to the association’s breach of contract claim. It is important that board members and managers understand what force majeure means and how to respond when a contractor/vendor suspends or seeks to suspend their performance due to the coronavirus citing a force majeure clause contained in the contract between the association and the contractor or vendor. Follow this link to read SwedelsonGottlieb’s article that explains exactly what force majeure means and how it could impact your community association. And if you have Force Majeure issues or questions, contact SwedelsonGottlieb via email (info@sghoalaw.com) or call us: 800/372-2207

Screenshot_4_2_20__4_11_PM-300x170The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the community association industry both in terms of operations and morale. Community association members, board members, and community managers are presumably staying home to avoid contracting the coronavirus, and are not meeting in person. This seems to have led to a reluctance, by some association boards, to conduct business. Further, the social distancing requirements imposed by our State and local governments are eliminating social interaction that is critical to the functioning of the community.  Along with this, the fear and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the mood and attitude of board members and professionals involved with operating the community association.

The disruption has become apparent and severe. However, we must examine the “silver linings” and “play with the cards we have been dealt” – so to speak – in order to preserve the integrity of our communities and functioning of same. The business that needed to be done before we all retreated to our homes to be safe still needs to get done and the longer boards wait to do that business, the more likely it is that there will be complications. Below are a few ideas that board members should consider moving forward in the face of this pandemic that may last for months.

1. Meetings.  While in-person meetings should be avoided, associations may still be able to conduct meetings via conference call and/or videoconference (e.g., Zoom). The Davis-Stirling Act sets out a procedure for telephone conference meetings, but the Code requires that someone be at a physical location where the owners can listen to the call via speakerphone and participate during open forum. We believe that the ongoing pandemic would warrant a substantial compliance approach. That is, associations can conduct the meeting via telephone or video conference and attempt to comply with the applicable statutes, as much as possible, while at the same time complying with the State and City social distancing orders now in effect. This way, associations may still conduct business and hold meetings so that the common area components continue to be maintained, insurance policies do not lapse, and other obligations like enforcement of the Governing Documents are met.  In other words, California community associations can still function while the board members and management are at the same time complying with government mandated social distancing requirements.

CoronavirusSwedelsonGottlieb updated its COVID-19 Community Association Guidebook on March 27, 2020. We put this Guidebook together to address our new reality and how California community associations should be dealing with the pandemic. We are all staying at home unless our jobs are essential and we are socially distancing ourselves from one another. The reality is that community associations cannot close down. Associations must continue to operate as they control the common areas where people live, and so much more. And the COVID-19 pandemic has created issues that we have never had to deal with in the past.

SwedelsonGottlieb is open for business; most of us are working remotely. And, we continue to receive inquiries from board members and managers concerning what community associations should be doing to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on their communities. As we explain in the Guidebook, we do not believe that community associations have any direct or legal responsibility to deal with the coronavirus itself as it is each resident’s responsibility to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19. That said, some commonsense things should be kept in mind and we address those things in the Guidebook.

To be clear, this does not mean that associations should not be implementing policies to address the coronavirus, such as taking steps to clean and sanitize to the extent possible the common area, close common area amenities such as pools, gyms and recreation centers or clubhouses. But there is only so much that associations can do. As we explain in the Guidebook, there are things that each California community association can and should be doing, especially when an association learns that a resident has contracted or been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, to limit liability exposure.

CoronavirusIt is not a hoax; it is a pandemic. And as a result, we are receiving inquiries from board members and managers concerning what community associations should be doing to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the impact of same on their communities. To address these questions, SwedelsonGottlieb published a guidebook that explains, among other things, why we do not believe that community associations have any direct responsibility to deal with the coronavirus; rather it is each residents responsibility to take steps to limit their exposure to the virus to avoid contracting the virus. That said, there are some commonsense things that should be kept in mind. And there are employees and staff to consider. Follow this link&amp to read and download SwedelsonGottlieb’s Guidebook. And note that as the information that we are all receiving about the coronavirus and how governmental agencies are dealing with the disease keeps evolving, so will our advice. So be sure to visit HOAlawblog for the latest coronavirus information and advice as it relates to California community associations.

Prepared by the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

Proposed_Legislation_Bad_for_Health_Care_Providers_and_Patients-300x278
Senate Bill 323, proposed new law that would impact how California community association conduct elections, was approved by the Senate and Assembly was presented to Governor Newsom for his signature. This proposed legislation will impact and change the procedural requirements for most California community associations’ elections. Unfortunately, this proposed legislation goes too far and it is not the right solution to whatever it is that motivated Senator Wieckowski to author this new legislation.

For example, under current law, Civil Code Section 5200(a)(9), members of a community association can request their association’s list of members, including the members names and addresses. Currently Civil Code section 5220 allows members the ability to opt out and keep their contact information, which they deem private, off the list. SB 323 includes a loophole that effectively eliminates the ability for owners to opt out of having their name and personal contact information provided to another member. This proposed new law requires owners to provide their name and address on the envelope that includes the ballot, which SB 323 would make part of the list of records available for member inspection.

Contact Information