Articles Posted in Uncategorized

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.

In October 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom approved the following three bills affecting homeowner association elections: SB 392, SB 432, and AB 502. These bills made some improvements to the HOA election laws that were passed in 2019, but then they complicated others.  First, SB 392 made one simple improvement regarding election material retention. The prior law required retention until the election cannot be contested, which left many people wondering, when is that? And the new law that became effective January 1, 2022, made it simple by requiring retention of election materials for one year after the election date.

As a reminder, California Civil Code § 5200 (c) defines “association election materials” as returned ballots, signed voter envelopes, the voter list of names, parcel numbers, and voters to whom ballots were to be sent, proxies, and the candidate registration list. Signed voter envelopes may be inspected but may not be copied.

 Next, SB 432 cleaned up a discrepancy that the 2019 law had left between the Davis-Stirling Act andnthe Corporations Code, both of which apply to most community associations. Corporations Code Section 7511(c) was amended by extending the maximum time for associations to hold the recall/removal and new board member election vote from 90 to 150 days from the date of receipt of the petition. This will allow associations to comply with both Civil Code Section 5115, which requires associations to send a general notice 90 days before an election, and the Corporations Code, which requires the recall/removal to occur within 90 days of the receipt of the petition.  According to the old law, in order to comply with both statutes, associations would have been required to send the notice on the day they received the petition.

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, 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.

Screenshot_10_22_20__6_17_PM-189x300By David Swedelson, Esq. Senior Partner and Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

We are enduring a serious pandemic and social distancing is the norm. How can community association boards protect the health and safety of the board members, owners, management and others who attend board meetings, while also complying with the technical legalities of open board meetings?

Under California’s Open Meeting Act, association owners have a right to attend, observe and participate at what are supposed to be open board meetings (Cal. Civil Code § 4925). An owner can challenge or seek to nullify board actions taken in violation of the Act by bringing a civil action against the association for injunctive relief, restitution, reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. The court can also impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each violation. (Cal. Civil Code § 4955.)

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_5_28_20__3_30_PM-300x187 The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closures of community association pools, spas, tennis courts, gyms and other recreational facilties. The good news is that the State of California and the 58 counties are in the process of issuing new orders regarding the use of community association pools, tennis courts and other recreational facilities. The attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb have researched all 58 counties and follow this link to our listing of same and their current orders regarding pools tennis courts and other facilities. Changes to the orders and guidance cited to in our listing occur frequently and this list is as of May 27, 2020. And as the different counties are progressing through the phased reopening plans at different paces, each association should check regularly with the State, County, and City for the most up-to-date orders and guidelines.

Contact SwedelsonGottlieb for questions: 800/372-2207 or

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.

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CAI_LOGO_225Earlier this month, CAI released a Statement of Moratorium on Foreclosure Actions urging community associations to immediately suspend all foreclosure activity and not begin new foreclosure actions until June 1. We question how well thought out this position is as it is not all that realistic for California community associations.

Do not get this wrong. We at SwedelsonGottlieb are well aware of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our world and the fact that over 10,000,000 people filed for unemployment nationwide (so far). We recognize that community association boards are going to need to be sensitive to the fact that many owners may be temporarily (hopefully) unemployed and not able to timely pay their assessments.

As CAI said in its introduction to the Statement of Moratorium, the collection of community association assessments is a very serious and important responsibility of a governing board. Failing to collect assessments may impair a community association’s ability to pays its bills, provide essential services, acquire financing for continued operations, and may impact the ability of a potential purchaser to obtain a mortgage or impact existing owners refinancing of their loans.

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