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Bressi-RanchWe are proud to announce that Bressi Ranch Community Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Bressi Ranch is a master planned community located in the City of Carlsbad. Residents enjoy the Village Club, which includes a lap pool, spa, wading pool, BBQ area, outdoor fireplace, fitness room, and playground.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Bressi Ranch’s Board and management.

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We are proud to announce that Jade-TreeJade Tree Owners Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Jade Tree is a brand new condominium community by KB Homes. Located in Chino Hills, Jade Tree is convenient to Vellano Country Club and Western Hills Country Club. Residents enjoy Jade Tree’s community park or exploring the nearly 12,500 acres of nearby Chino Hills State Park.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Jade Tree’s Board and management.

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*New Library Article!

electronic-funds-transfer-help-e1542145539349Assembly Bill 2912 (“AB 2912”) was recently enacted by the California Legislature.  Its changes to the law, which take effect January 1, 2019, are intended “to protect owners in a [HOA] from fraudulent activity by those entrusted with the management of the [HOA’s] finances.”  To that end, AB 2912 (a) significantly increases the financial review requirements of HOA boards of directors, (b) limits the ability for automatic transfer of HOA funds without board approval, and (c) imposes a requirement for the HOA to purchase and maintain a fidelity bond.

In the wake of AB 2912’s passage, questions and concerns have surfaced as to how HOAs and management companies may need to adjust their current operational procedures to comply with the new state of the law.  Our HOA attorneys have authored a new article to address some of those questions and to clarify some of AB 2912’s key components.

hoa laws The article, entitled “AB 2912: New Protections Against the Misuse of HOA Funds,” is available for download from our firm’s library. You can access the article by clicking here.

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We are proud to announce that JuniperJuniper at Portola Springs Homeowners Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Juniper at Portola Springs is a brand new condominium community by Richmond American Homes. The latest addition to the Villages of Irvine®, Juniper at Portola Springs offers easy access to shopping, dining and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy—comprising 50,000 acres of open space, lakes and trails.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Juniper at Portola Sorings’ Board and management.

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DoradoWe are proud to announce that Dorado Homeowners Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Dorado is a brand new single-family home community by Pulte Homes. Dorado is close to many attractions including the Queen Mary, The Pike, Aquarium of the Pacific, Cal State Long Beach and the delicious culinary scene downtown. Ideally situated between Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Dorado is conveniently located in Long Beach.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Dorado’s Board and management.

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arbitration-judgeIt is well settled that an association’s CC&Rs (“Declaration”) establishes and controls, among other things, a board’s authority to govern an association provided that the CC&Rs do not conflict with California law and regulations (i.e., Davis-Stirling Act). In such cases, the plain language of the CC&Rs control. (Franklin v. Marie Antoinette Condominium Owners Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 824, 829.)  This was the case in Branches Neighborhood Corporation v. CalAtlantic Group., Inc. G055201 (August 24, 2018), where Branches Neighborhood Corporation’s (“Association”) Declaration required the same to obtain a membership vote of fifty-one percent (51%) or more prior to the initiation of its construction defect claim (“Claim”) against CalAtlantic Group., Inc. (“Developer”).

In Branches, the Association properly followed all procedural requirements under California law in the initiation of the Claim, however, failed to obtain the prerequisite vote in accordance with its Declaration. Approximately two years after the initiation of the Claim, the Association obtained a membership vote in excess of fifty-one percent (51%), approving and ratifying the Claim. Taking into consideration these undisputed facts, the arbitrator assigned to the Claim granted Developer’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the “after the fact expression of consent cannot be transmuted into the prior consent required by the CC&Rs…when such a result would adversely impact the rights of a party to the agreement by which the CC&Rs were created…[t]he Developer is such a party.”

In its opposition to Developer’s motion to confirm the award, the Association based its argument on the theory that the arbitrator exceeded its powers under Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) § 1286.2(a)(4), which requires a court to vacate an arbitrator’s award if it determines that the arbitrator has exceeded its powers. Specifically, the Association argued that the arbitrator exceeded its powers by (1) depriving the Association of its unwaivable statutory right to affirmatively ratify the Claim, and (2) overriding public policy in favor of ratification. Both trial and appellate courts (collectively, “Court”) confirmed the arbitrator’s award.

The Court predicated its decision on the established foundation of the “Rule of Finality,” which in short, provides extreme deference to an arbitrator’s decision, subject to limited exceptions such as CCP § 1286.2(a)(4).

In support of its first argument, the Association provided the Court with several sections of the Davis-Stirling Act (“Act”) that provided the Association with the ability to retroactively ratify its actions, claiming that it is its “statutory right.” As such, the Association asserted that the provision in the Declaration that requires membership approval prior to the initiation of the Claim (“Provision”) is unenforceable as it waives said right. The Court quickly disposed of this argument because all the statutes mentioned by the Association provided the right to ratify only if a provision of the Act required an action to be approved by a majority vote. (See Civil Code §§ 4065, 4070.)  Here, the Court found no provision of the Act that required the Association to obtain a majority vote prior to the initiation of the Claim, holding that “absent a specific requirement in the Act to hold an election, the association’s governing documents control.” Branches, at 6.

The Association then went on to argue that public policy supports its position due to the Legislature’s “clear pronouncement of public policy favoring ratification.” Branches, at 8.  The Court disagreed with this proposition, stating that the Act was created to regulate the governance of homeowners associations, placing a system of checks and balances (“System”) against the Association and its board of directors (“Board”). The Court noted Civil Code § 6150 (requiring an association to provide notice to its members 30 days prior to the filing of a claim, unless such requirement would cause the statute of limitations to run) as an example of the System the Act is intended to establish. The Court found the Provision to go a “step further” by requiring the Association to obtain membership approval prior to the initiation of the Claim, as opposed to the mere requirement of providing notice of same. Id.

Retroactively approving the Claim went against public policy as it stripped Association members of their ability to “check” the authority of the Board (i.e., provide authorization to file the Claim); even if the members had the ability to disapprove the Claim, the Association would suffer damages in the form of legal costs and expenses already expended in the Claim, going further against the System, Act, and Declaration. Accordingly, the Court found no violation of public policy and thus, no violation committed by the arbitrator.

Branches emphasizes the importance of the plain language of an association’s Declaration. So long as the Declaration does not conflict with existing law (i.e., Act) and/or goes against public policy, the plain language of the Declaration controls, to which a homeowners association must strictly abide by.

hoa laws It is of crucial importance for a homeowners association to thoroughly interpret, analyze and understand its authority under its governing documents, in particular, its CC&Rs, prior to the taking of any action in order to avoid unnecessary consequences.  For the same reason, it is of equal importance for homeowners associations to obtain general legal counsel that specializes solely in HOA law and related matters to provide unfettered and sound legal advice from an objective perspective.  Law firms that specialize in multiple areas of law (e.g., HOA and construction defect) may overlook certain provisions of an association’s governing documents and inadvertently guide associations in a direction that may prove to be detrimental, such as the outcome in Branches.  For more information and guidance related to the interpretation and/or amending of CC&Rs and other governing documents, please contact us.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Andrew M. Jun, Esq.

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BreezaWe are proud to announce that Breeza Owners Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Breeza is a high-rise condominium community located in the Little Italy area of downtown San Diego. Situated along what has been dubbed “Millionaire’s Row” on Pacific Highway, residents enjoy a community pool, spa, workout facility, concierge service, security attendant and underground parking.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Breeza’s Board and management.

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Pacific-Island-VillasWe are proud to announce that Pacific Island Villas Homeowners’ Association has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Pacific Island Villas is a condominium community located in Dana Point. Residents enjoy a pool, spa, clubhouse, and close proximity to the beach.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Pacific Island Villas’ Board and management.

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BikeExhaust-e1534522784547*Asked & Answered

Asked – We have several vehicles that are “extremely loud” due to their exhaust systems. Even with all windows and doors closed and these vehicles 1/2 way across the complex, there is NO PROBLEM hearing them when they start them. They even set off car alarms near them. Can we ask them to address the noise they cause?

Answered – Noisy neighbors are a frequent occurrence in common interest developments, especially in dense housing communities (e.g., condominiums). And while the California Supreme Court has indicated that individuals “in a community must put up with a certain amount of annoyance, inconvenience and interference,” (San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. Superior Court (1996) 13 Cal.4th 893, 937), that does not extend to situations which have a substantial impact on residents’ use and enjoyment of their separate interests.

Indeed, residents of a common interest development are generally entitled to the peaceful use and enjoyment of their respective separate interests as well as the common areas. Ensuring such peaceful use and enjoyment is what underlies many of the provisions set forth in an association’s recorded Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”). Residents purchase or rent their separate interests within an association in reliance on those restrictions being consistently and faithfully enforced.

The peaceful use and enjoyment to which residents are entitled is typically reflected in the association’s CC&Rs under the heading “use restrictions.” The following is a common example of a use restriction preserving the right of residents to the peaceful use and enjoyment of their separate interest:

No Condominium shall be used in such a manner as to obstruct or interfere with the enjoyment of occupants of other Condominiums or annoy them by unreasonable noises or otherwise, nor shall any nuisance be committed or permitted to occur in any Condominium.

This provision, alone, can serve as a basis to prevent residents from operating vehicles in the community that are “extremely loud.” However, some associations go a step further and adopt operating rules identifying what constitutes an “unreasonable” noise. For example, an association may adopt an operating rule prohibiting residents from operating vehicles that exceed a certain decibel level; or, more commonly, adopt an operating rule prohibiting residents from operating vehicles that produce “excessive” noise thereby providing the Board of Directors with the broad discretion to determine what constitutes “excessive.”

hoa laws In sum, the ability to regulate conduct or activities that constitute a nuisance is well within the scope of authority granted to an association. This power extends to prohibiting residents from operating extremely loud vehicles within the community. Associations facing such issues can and should commence enforcement efforts to remedy the violation, and, if the association has not done so already, adopt operating rules addressing such conduct. 

Content provided by TLG attorney Matthew T. Plaxton, Esq.

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

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DavenportWe are proud to announce that Davenport Neighborhood Corporation has selected Tinnelly Law Group as their association’s legal counsel.

Davenport is a condominium community located in Ladera Ranch. Residents enjoy the use of multiple pools, spa, clubhouse, tennis, sports court, biking and hiking trails.

hoa laws Our HOA attorneys and staff look forward to working with Davenport’s Board and management.