Articles Posted in Renters

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first-time-homebuyerWe previously blogged about H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016”, which was signed by the President on July 29, 2016.  H.R. 3700 required the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) to streamline the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) recertification process, provide regulations for commercial space exemptions, allow for deed-based transfer fees, and lower the owner-occupancy requirement within ninety (90) days of the bill’s approval.  In response to these provisions and changes in the condominium market, HUD proposed a new rule governing the certification requirements for condominium associations.  The proposed rule includes the following reforms:

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familyOn January 20, 2015, a tragic fire ripped through a condominium complex in the city of San Juan Capistrano, killing three, injuring six, and displacing eighty residents living in eight units.  The decedents were three of seventeen individuals living in a four-bedroom condominium.  In light of the deaths and their relation to the number of occupants living in the unit, efforts are now underway to examine state and local occupancy restrictions with an eye towards preventing an incident like this from occurring in the future.  To that end, questions have surfaced with respect to an association’s ability to adopt and enforce state and local occupancy standards, as well as to promulgate operating rules regulating the number of occupants living within a unit.

An association’s “operating rules” are regulations adopted by the board that apply “generally to the management  and  operation  of the  common  interest  development  or the conduct  of the business and affairs of the association.” (Civ. Code § 4340(a)) They relate to things such as the use of common area and separate interests, member discipline, and procedures for elections. (Civ. Code § 4355(a)(1)-(7))  In order to be valid and enforceable, the operating rule must meet several requirements: the rule must be (1) in writing, (2) within the authority of the Board of Directors conferred by law or the governing documents, (3) not in conflict with governing law and the governing documents, (4) adopted in good faith and in compliance with the procedural requirements set forth in Civil Code section 4360, and (5) reasonable. (Civ. Code § 4350) Accordingly, presuming that an occupancy rule is adopted by an association’s board of directors pursuant to the powers granted to it under the governing documents, the primary focus is whether the occupancy rule conflicts with governing law (i.e., California law).

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*New Case Lawhoa-renter-fee.jpg

In the landmark case of Lamden v. La Jolla Shores Clubdominium Homeowners Assn. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 249 (“Lamden“), the California Supreme Court established what is known as the “Rule of Judicial Deference” or “Lamden Rule” that, in sum, requires courts to defer to decisions made by a HOA’s Board of Directors regarding “ordinary maintenance:”

“…We adopt today for California courts a rule of judicial deference to community association board decisionmaking that applies, regardless of an association’s corporate status, when owners in common interest developments seek to litigate ordinary maintenance decisions entrusted to the discretion of their associations’ boards of directors.” (Lamden, at 253.)

However, in a recently published opinion, the Court of Appeals expanded the scope of the Lamden Rule to include additional decisions made by a HOA’s Board, such as those to adopt rules and impose fees on members relating to short-term renters…

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eviction-hoa.jpg*Asked & Answered

Asked – A renter/tenant within our community is continually engaging in improper conduct, violating the governing documents, and causing nuisances that are impacting surrounding homeowners. Is there anything the HOA can do to evict the tenant? What steps can the Board of Directors take to prevent situations like this from happening in the future?

Answered – Improper conduct of tenants is a problematic situation commonly faced by homeowners associations (“HOAs”). Tenants often are not as involved in the affairs of the HOA as that of the HOA’s members, nor do tenants feel the same sense of investment in the community. Additionally, members who rent out their homes typically prioritize rental income over the concerns of neighboring homeowners.

The degree to which a HOA may take action directly against an unruly tenant will be principally governed by the HOA’s governing documents–specifically, the HOA’s recorded declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (a.k.a. “CC&Rs”). The restrictions in the CC&Rs are “equitable servitudes” that are enforceable against the owners of the “separate interests” within the HOA (the HOA’s members). Civ. Code § 5975. CC&Rs may contain provisions requiring tenants to comply with the HOA’s governing documents. However, those provisions essentially confer obligations upon the members to control the conduct of their respective tenants. Therefore, any remedies available to the HOA in response to tenant violations or nuisance activities must generally be pursued through action against the tenant’s landlord (the HOA member), not the tenant.

However, there are ways in which a HOA may broaden its ability to take action directly against a tenant. For example, a HOA can amend its CC&Rs to require any leases between a member and a third-party tenant to contain language which: (1) requires the tenant to comply with the governing documents, (2) grants the HOA the authority to take action directly against the tenant in response to violations, and (3) holds the landlord-member responsible for the HOA’s attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in taking such action. Such language would make the HOA a “third-party beneficiary” under the lease with the contractual right to enforce its terms through an eviction action or otherwise. Such language will also motivate members seeking to rent out their homes to secure higher-quality tenants at the outset.

hoa laws

In the absence of such language, the HOA should take formal action directly against the tenant’s landlord (the HOA member). Faced with the threat of fines and costly legal action, the member will likely realize that his/her financial interests are better served through securing a different tenant. A HOA dealing with unruly tenants should therefore seek the assistance of its legal counsel to determine the best course of action.

To submit questions to the HOA attorneys at Tinnelly Law Group, click here.

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hoa-caregiver.jpgThe ability of California homeowners associations (“HOAs”) to adopt and enforce restrictions on the renting of units has been limited by changes in the law over the past couple of years. Those changes have purported to provide greater protections for homeowners seeking to rent out their units to third parties. HOAs have therefore been required to modify their approach to the enforcement of rent restrictions that may be contained in their governing documents, including the adoption of additional rent restrictions binding only on future homeowners.

However, a recent unpublished Appellate Court decision confirms the ability of a HOA to enforce rent restrictions adopted decades in the past that are intended to address the unique concerns and characteristics of the HOA’s development.

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smoking-hoa

The problems posed by second-hand smoke have become a burning issue for California homeowners associations (“HOAs”), expecially condominium developments. A HOA typically does have the authority to adopt operating rules that prohibit smoking in common areas and exclusive use common areas; however, those rules may be insufficient to address problems posed by second-hand smoke emanating from inside an owner’s unit. Prohibiting that type of activity generally requires language to that effect contained in the HOA’s recorded CC&Rs. Where there is no such language, HOAs often refuse to get involved and opt to treat those situations as a “neighbor-to-neighbor” disputes.

However, we have written before about how a HOA may have an obligation to enforce the nuisance provisions contained in its CC&Rs to address problems posed by smoking within units. An Orange County jury recently affirmed this fact in the first ruling of its kind in California. The jury in Chauncey v. Bella Palermo Homeowners’ Association, et al., OCSC Case No. 30-2011-00461681, found the defendants HOA and its management company negligent and also found the HOA in breach of its CC&Rs for failing to enforce its nuisance provision protecting the plaintiffs’ rights to their “quiet enjoyment” of their unit. The jury held the HOA liable for doing nothing to abate the alleged nuisance resulting from the second-hand smoke, despite the fact that the CC&Rs contained no provision specifically prohibiting smoking within the units.

hoa attorney More and more municipalities are adopting “no-smoking” ordinances within multi-dwelling residential units. However, where there are no such ordinances, or any similar restrictions contained in a HOA’s recorded CC&Rs, a HOA may be still be obligated to enforce its nuisance provisions to address problems posed by second-hand smoke emanating from the interior of a unit. Where the problems persist, a HOA should consult with its legal counsel and also consider a formal amendment to its CC&Rs to prohibit smoking throughout the entire development.

Content by TLG attorney Terri Morris

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*Asked & Answeredhoa law firm

Asked As a HOA member, do I have the right to see a copy of a lease agreement pertaining to a home that was acquired by my HOA through foreclosure of an assessment lien?

Answered – Yes, you may request to see a copy of the lease agreement. Under Civil Code §1365.2(a)(1)(D),a HOA member is entitled to inspect certain “Association records” for any “proper purpose reasonably related” to her interests as a member of the Association. “Association records” include “[e]xecuted contracts not otherwise privileged under law.” 1365.2(a)(1)(D).

The term “privileged” in Civil Code §1365.2(a)(1)(D) essentially pertains to confidential or sensitive information, as well as records/communications which are protected by attorney-client privilege. A standard lease agreement between a HOA and a renter is generally not a “privileged” contract and is therefore subject to inspection as an “Association record.”

hoa attorney

The lease agreement may, however, include confidential information such as social security numbers. The HOA Board of Directors and/or management should ensure that such confidential information is adequately redacted from the lease agreement prior to providing it to a member for inspection. A HOA that has questions or concerns regarding the disclosure of HOA lease agreements and the information contained therein should consult with the HOA’s legal counsel.

To submit questions to the HOA attorneys at Tinnelly Law Group, click here.

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*Asked & AnsweredRental-Issue.jpg

AskedCan the Board amend the HOA’s CC&Rs to limit a homeowner who owns multiple units from renting more than one unit unless they live within the HOA?

Answered – Yes. Provided that the requisite procedures are followed and membership approval is obtained, the Board of Directors does have the authority to amend your HOA’s CC&Rs to include such a rental prohibition. However, because the amendment serves to effectively prohibit a homeowner’s ability to rent out a unit (as compared to a less-severe, reasonable restriction on rentals), the California Civil Code limits the degree to which current homeowners would be bound by the prohibition.

Senate Bill 150 added Section 1360.2 to the California Civil Code to insulate certain homeowners from any “provision in a governing document or an amendment to a governing document that prohibits the rental or leasing of any of the separate interests” that was adopted by the HOA on or after January 1, 2012. The only homeowners who may be bound by such rental prohibitions are those who bought their homes after the prohibition had already been adopted and in effect, as well as those who consent to being bound by it.

In your situation, an interesting question becomes how would the Civil Code treat enforcement of such a prohibition against a particular homeowner who owned one unit within the HOA before the prohibition was adopted (“Unit A”), and then later, after the prohibition is adopted, purchases another unit in the HOA (“Unit B”)? The language of Section 1360.2 seems to suggest that the rental prohibition would indeed be valid and enforceable against Unit B. However, a thorough assessment of the facts at issue as they relate to the legislative intent behind Section 1360.2 would be necessary to make a more complete determination.

california hoa

If your Homeowners Association is contemplating the adoption of a new provision to restrict or prohibit rentals, careful consideration must be given to how the Civil Code’s limitations will impact the enforcement of the new provision and whether those limitations will frustrate the homeowners’ goals in adopting it. Consulting with your Homeowners Association attorney will assist in crafting a provision that serves the interests of the homeowners while also preventing costly legal challenges to its enforcement.

To submit questions to the HOA lawyers at Tinnelly Law Group, click here.

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rent_fee2.jpgThe additional burdens that renters impose can be substantial for many common interest developments–especially those developments designed as “recreational communities.” Renters who lack a sense of investment in the community or who are unfamiliar with its operational structure can place greater strain on the community’s management and maintenance resources. This may not only frustrate other owners within the community, but may also significantly impact the financial health of the Homeowners Association (“HOA”) formed to preserve and protect it.

We have written about how HOAs adopt and enforce rental restrictions as a means to alleviate some of the problems posed by renters. We have also published a resource explaining how new legislation taking effect January 1, 2012 will limit a HOA’s ability to restrict rentals in certain circumstances. However, in addition to imposing rental restrictions where possible, can a HOA impose a fee on owners who wish to rent out their homes? In the recent, unpublished decision of Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association, the answer may be yes.

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cau.jpgOur “2012 Legislative & Case Law Update” newsletter is now available in our library!

The 2012 Legislative & Case Law Update provides an overview of the new legislation impacting California Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) and the community association industry professionals who service them. The new legislation includes, among other things, bills that impose new requirements on Board Member meetings and new limitations on HOAs that wish to restrict rentals in their communities.

The 2012 Legislative & Case Law Update also provides an overview of some important new case law, along with some links to additional resources we have published on the items discussed therein.

Click here to read our 2012 Legislative & Case Law Update

Have questions on any of the new legislation or case law? Click here to send us a question online.