Articles Posted in Davis-Stirling Act

Disclosure_-_Overview__How_It_Works__Importance__Limitations-300x198It is fall, and for most California community associations, it is budget season and boards and managers are in the process of preparing budgets for the 2022 fiscal year. Along with the next fiscal year’s budget, boards and managers need to be thinking of all of the disclosures that California law requires be made. That is why SwedelsonGottlieb annually publish this Checklist. The good news is that there are no major changes in the law relating to disclosures. But that does not mean that there are no other issues or disclosure requirements to consider.

There are issues that we discussed last year that need to be considered, if the association has not already taken action, including the now required balcony inspections, election rules, rental restriction changes, and accounting for bad debt associated with COVID-19.

In addition, economists are projecting inflation to hit associations in the coming year. We have already seen increased cost for materials, utilities, and insurance. Employees all over the state are demanding higher wages to return to work, which will have a trickle-down effect in every service the association receives, be it janitorial, landscape, management, or pool. Associations really need to contact their service providers, contractors and insurance broker to discuss potential increases in next years fees and costs. To respond to homeowner outcry that usually follows an increase in assessments, boards should be prepared to educate homeowners on the rising costs and the plan to keep the association financially stable.

By David Swedelson, Esq. Partner and Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

Today, June 14th is Flag Day. So, why not a blog post on flags.

Banner_Banners_on_the_Condo_Board_-_WSJ-300x203I was forwarded an article on flying the American flag at community associations that appeared in the Wall Street Journal which motivated this blog post. According to the article, Flag Day commemorates the adoption in 1777 of the U.S. flag. The article (follow this link) goes on to say that “for condominium dwellers, celebrating could prove challenging. On account of condo by-laws dictating the appearance of units, it isn’t always Yankee Doodle Dandy when members wish to fly the American flag. Courts have addressed disputes of all stripes.” Spoiler alert, and as I will explain below, California has a statute that protects the right of an owner to fly a flag. But there are limits.

By David Swedelson, Senior Partner and Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

voter_suppression_-_Google_Search-300x189I first heard about voter suppression in law school, where I learned that the United States has a long tradition of threatening voter access. I thought it was a thing of the past. But I have been surprised by recent news stories that tell us that there are real efforts in 2020 to make it harder for some Americans to vote. For example, a Memphis, Tenn., poll worker turned away people wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, saying they couldn’t vote. Robocalls warned thousands of Michigan residents that mail-in voting could put their personal information in the hands of debt collectors and police. In Georgia, officials cut polling places by nearly 10%, even as the number of voters surged by nearly 2 million.

Simply stated, voter and candidate suppression is a strategy used to influence an election’s outcome by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from running as a candidate in an election or voting. Unlike political campaigning, which attempts to change voting behavior through persuasion and organization, activating inactive voters, or registering new supporters; voter suppression attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition. The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, physical intimidation, and even physical attacks on prospective voters, which is illegal.

pesticides_-_Google_Search-300x268From the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

When community associations decide to have chemical pesticides or weed-killing herbicides such as Roundup applied, they must provide detailed, written advance notice to homeowners and residents.

Pursuant to Civil Code §4777(b), “an association or its authorized agent that applies any pesticide to a separate interest or to the common area without a licensed pest control operator shall provide the owner and, if applicable, the tenant of an affected separate interest and, if making broadcast applications, or using total release foggers or aerosol sprays, the owner and, if applicable, the tenant in an adjacent separate interest that could reasonably be impacted by the pesticide use with written notice…”

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.

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.

From the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb new_laws_2019_rev_pdf_-_Google_Drive-2-300x141

It is no secret that community associations are often targets for embezzlement. But they are not alone. Newspaper articles tell us that it happens to various types of businesses and organizations, even attorneys and lawyer/bar organizations. Fraud and embezzlement seems more likely to occur when no one is watching those that control the checkbooks. And unfortunately, many many condominium, stock cooperative and planned development boards of directors become too trusting and they don’t keep an eye on what their manager or treasurer are doing.

To ensure that community associations are better protected, the California legislature passed AB 2912, acknowledging that associations are susceptible to fraud and embezzlement, and that more is needed to completely achieve the goal of protecting community association funds. Pay close attention as there are new requirements for both managers and boards amending two sections of Civil Code and adding three new ones. AB 2912 made the following changes to the law:

By the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb new_laws_2019_rev_pdf_-_Google_Drive-3-300x147

Through SB 261, the California Legislature fixed some issues with prior legislation dealing with delivery of notices and related matters and generally fixed some issues that had come up after prior legislation was adopted. This bill became effective in January 1st and amends the following existing sections of the Civil Code as stated:

• Email Consent to Document Delivery — Civil Code §4040 (Individual Notice), which allows for individual delivery of notices and other documents by email if an owner consents to this in writing was amended to allow an individual owner to permit/revoke consent to allow individual notice by email. While most attorneys thought that an email was considered a writing, this amendment eliminates any confusion.

Stupid-lawA senate bill seeking to prohibit California community associations from establishing qualifications for candidates to run for their boards of directors among other changes and requirements (including possible invasion of owner privacy) is a dumb idea that would create bad law.

On April 5th, Los Angeles Times’ Sacramento columnist George Skelton noted that the California legislature passed nearly 1,000 bills in 2017: “A few were important. Most were not. Many were frivolous, some dumb – a waste of politicians’ time and public money. . . There are many bills pending in the legislature again this year that the state could do just fine without.”

One bill I think the State could do just fine without is SB1265. And if you live in a California community association, I think you’ll agree. You should IMMEDIATELY let the legislature know that this legislation is unnecessary, and that the State could do just fine without SB1265. Let me explain how I and many others in the industry came to this conclusion.

By Joseph L. Gilman, Esq., Associate at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

peaceful_assembly_-_Google_Search-300x211 Effective January 1, 2018, Civil Code Section 4515 was added to the Davis-Stirling Act to protect certain rights of political speech and peaceful assembly within the boundaries of a common interest development.

Senator Bob Wieckowski originally presented new Civil Code Section 4515 to California’s legislature as Senate Bill 407. Remarking on his proposed legislation, Senator Wieckowski stated that it “will prevent HOA boards and management from denying basic rights to their residents” as “Boards have fined and threatened legal action against homeowners for simply exercising basic political free speech rights. Millions of Californians live in these associations and SB 407 is needed to prevent these abuses.” While we have no experience with these types of “abuses,” we understand the basis for this new legislation.

As enacted by California’s legislature, Civil Code Section 4515 (which became effective January 1, 2018) protects political speech and assembly rights by invalidating any provision of an association’s governing documents (which includes rules) that prohibits the following:

• Peacefully assembling or meeting, at reasonable hours and in a reasonable manner, for purposes related to common interest development living, association elections, legislation, election to public office, or the initiative, referendum or recall process.

• Inviting public officials, candidates for public office, and representatives of homeowner organizations to meet with members and residents and speak on matters of public interest.

• Canvassing and petitioning the members and residents for purposes related to the topics listed above.

• Distributing or circulating, without prior permission, information about the topics listed above or other issues of concern to the members or residents, at reasonable hours and in a reasonable manner.

Civil Code Section 4515 also invalidates any provision requiring a member or resident to pay a fee, make a deposit, obtain liability insurance, or pay the premium or deductible on the association’s insurance policy, in order to use a common area for any of the meetings described above. Continue reading

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