Articles Posted in Legislative Developments

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

By Nicholas Marfori, Esq. and David Swedelson, Esq., Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

ugly_solar_panels_on_roof_-_Google_Search-300x224As you may have heard, the Governor signed into law new legislation that now changes a California condominium’s associations ability to prohibit an owner from installing a solar energy system on the common area roof. AB 634, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, amended several provisions of the California Civil Code to set forth language that further clarifies what condominium associations can and cannot do with respect to the installation of an owners own solar energy system on a common area roof and exclusive use common.

As originally enacted, Civil Code § 714 and § 714.1 already prohibited associations from imposing unreasonable restrictions against the installation of solar energy systems on common areas and on a separate interest owned by another owner. AB 634 amends Civil Code § 714.1 to further clarify that associations are prohibited from doing the following:

By Sandra Gottlieb, Esq. CCAL, Senior/Managing Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

The_Communicator_-_Volume_10__Issue_1-300x185Recent legal Developments affect community association interests in a variety of ways. In 2017, the California Court of Appeal decided several cases concerning such issues as title to common area and board member liability. These cases may be instructive to board members and managers. Meanwhile, on the legislative front, new and pending laws affect association interests in the areas of governance, business dealing, FHA certification, annual notifications and use restrictions. Though not a complete or authoritative guide, we hope this article (published in the Winter 2017 Volume 10, Issue 1 of the Communicator, Community Association Institute/Bay Area/Central California Chapter’s news magazine) can be a useful resource for the most relevant legal updates this year. Follow this link or click here to download the article.

Sandra Gottlieb is a community association legal expert who has devoted her practice and that of SwedelsonGottlieb to the representation of California CIDs and HOAs. She can be contacted via email at slg@sghoalaw.com

checklist_-_Google_SearchSwedelsonGottlieb annually updates and publishes its Disclosure and Notice Checklist as a resource for Managers and Board Members of California Community Associations. The updated Checklist is 14 pages (there are a lot of things that California community associations are required to give notice of or disclose) and sets out what disclosures and notices California community associations are to provide to homeowners, when and how they are to be provided, as well as other considerations. Included is information regarding the Code requirements for the Annual Budget Report, the Annual Policy Statement, Fiscal Year End Disclosures, and other Additional Disclosures/Notices. We have included information regarding the recent changes to Civil Code Section 4041 relating to the solicitation of owner mailing addresses, etc. and the required New Management Disclosures. Follow this link to download your copy of this important resource.

balcony_waterproofing_-_Google_Search-300x232By David C. Swedelson, Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

Many California community association’s CC&Rs, particularly those in older communities, do not clearly state who is responsible for the repair or replacement of exclusive use common area. This typically relates to the waterproofing of patios and balconies at most condo associations. That is the exclusive use area defined in the CC&Rs that requires repair and/or replacement (for most condominium associations, exclusive use common area is limited to balconies, patios and parking spaces). Before January 1st of 2017, there was some uncertainty as to who is responsible for the repair or replacement of exclusive use common area which led to disputes between associations and owners.

Fortunately, amended Civil Code Section 4775 helps clarify this issue. If the CC&Rs are not clear, we look to Civil Code Section 4775. That section, like former Civil Code section 1364, its predecessor, had since the mid 1980s provided that the association is responsible for repairing, replacing, or maintaining the common area, other than exclusive use common area, and the owner of each separate interest is responsible for maintaining that separate interest and any exclusive use common area appurtenant to the separate interest.

ugly_solar_panels_on_roof_-_Google_Search-300x195According to CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee, there is still time to stop AB 634, a bill that impacts a condominium association’s ability to control the placement of solar panels in common interest developments. BUT YOU MUST ACT TODAY BEFORE THE GOVERNOR SIGNS THIS BILL INTO LAW.

CAI reports that “AB 634 has passed the state legislature and, if signed by the Governor, will eliminate local association-approved rules and replace them with statewide mandates that allow a single homeowner to monopolize a common area roof with solar panels for their sole benefit.”

It also allows the installation of panels without regard for their impact on our community’s architectural guidelines, suitability for that particular building or roof, or any adequate protections from property or water damage.

PLEASE click here to easily email Governor Brown and ask him to VETO this bill that will hurt all of those living in our communities!

Below is SwedelsonGottlieb’s letter to the Governor:

Continue reading

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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.

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