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Entrada-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Entrada Owners’ Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Entrada is a new collection of courtyard-style single family homes by Signature Homes. Entrada is conveniently located in the Natomas area of Sacramento for easy commuting — close to schools, shopping, parks and biking trails.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with Entrada’s Board and management.

In case you missed it, Issue # 41 of our ‘Community Association Update’ newsletter is available now!New-Newsletter-Tempalte-300x167

Topics covered in this issue include:

  • SB 323 Signed! The New State of HOA Election Laws
  • Navigating the Hidden Risks of Homeowner Security Devices
  • THOU SHALT NOT REMOVE THE MEZUZAH:  California Legislature enacts SB 652 to Protect Displays of Religious Items on Doors and Doorframes
  • Vendor Relationships – Navigating Resident Interactions
  • The What and Why of Lender Rights, and How to Deal with Same

A link to the newsletter is here.

Need to be added to our mailing list? Click here to sign up. Links to previous editions of our newsletter can be found here.

New-Client-Photo-Template-0219-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Gala Community Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Gala is a new collection of single-story, elevator-served flats at The Cannery in Davis. As the final neighborhood to be built within California’s first farm-to-table new home community, residents will enjoy all the community lifestyle and educational amenities that both Davis and The Cannery have to offer. Forty-eight of the flats are located within the southwestern part of the community along The Cannery Loop Trail. The remaining flats are found in the southern part of The Cannery, near The Amphitheatre and Market Park.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with Gala’s Board and management.

Timeline-cover-image-1Election-Laws-Cover-Image

*New Legislation

Governor Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill 323 (“SB 323“). SB 323 makes substantive modifications to the Civil Code’s provisions governing HOA elections, effective January 1, 2020. Some of the more significant modifications require associations to amend their election rules to conform to new statutory requirements, limit the types of candidate qualifications an association may adopt, address the only circumstance for elections by acclamation, place limitations on who may serve as an inspector of elections, and bolster the ability of members to overturn an election that is not conducted in accordance with proper procedures.

*We have published a detailed article on SB 323, entitled “The New State of HOA Election Laws.”  The article is available for download, here.

*Also included with the article is a “Director Election Timeline” that illustrates the new pre-election notice requirements imposed by SB 323.  The timeline is also available for download, here.

California HOA lawyers SB 323 requires HOAs to make immediate changes to their election rules, especially those HOAs that have their annual meeting set to take place in the first quarter of 2020. Time is of the essence. Our team of HOA lawyers is ready to assist our clients with the steps needed to conform to the changes imposed by SB 323. 

 

Chained-Social-Media-Facebook-Twitter-YouTube-Regulations-Internet-900Like it or not, we live in the age of social media. It is undeniable and has dramatically transformed the way we communicate in every arena, including homeowners associations (“HOA”).  Information, opinions and images are broadcast and circulated at a rapid pace with little or no oversight involved.  These unfiltered transmissions over social media airwaves can have profound impacts on homeowners associations’ governance (board of directors), as well as its membership (homeowners).  Understanding the legal implications of social media use in the context of managed communities is critical to avoid conflicts, unexpected costs and legal battles.

In recent years, we have seen a myriad of lawsuits stemming from social media abuse:  In Tennessee, a homeowner faced legal action from her HOA for using the name of her subdivision on her personal Facebook neighborhood page.  In New York City, co-op residents aired their dirty laundry online, resulting in multiple lawsuits.  Elsewhere, a vacation-condominium owner sued a guest for $15,000 over negative social media comments.

It is not uncommon to find defamatory language being hurled at board members or management by disgruntled homeowners on online community forums, board members purporting to speak on behalf of the association on their personal Facebook pages, and association social media channels turning into de facto board meetings in violation of state law and governing document protocols.

These problems arise largely due to an inherent discord between the nature of social media and how community associations operate.  Association managed communities are highly regulated and restricted – indeed, their chief governing instrument is titled Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”). To the contrary, social media regulation is grossly inadequate.  Simply put, people are free to share their thoughts and opinions without real consequences, which often leads to capricious communications.  However, people cannot do this in community associations. For instance, homeowners cannot blurt out opinions in board meetings – in fact, homeowners are often not even allowed to speak, unless given permission.

Unfortunately, the legal landscape has been quite slow to catch up with the problems associated with unbridled communication.  There are few, if any, state laws to govern the use of social media in the realm of corporate governance.  Moreover, developers who write the CC&Rs are focusing on issues like special assessments and architectural approval, not whether board treasurer Bob has the right to post his opinions on the clubhouse renovation on Twitter.

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3-5_aba_little_tots*New Legislation

Governor Newsome recently signed into law Senate Bill 234 (“SB 234“), also know as the “Keeping Kids Close to Home Act.”  The new law will take effect on January 1, 2020.  SB 234 permits large daycare homes, which provide care for up to 14 children at one time, to operate within HOA communities regardless of contrary language in their CC&Rs.  The purpose of SB 234 is to increase the availability of childcare for families across the state by making it easier for daycare homes to operate in residential neighborhoods.

“It is the intent of the Legislature that family daycare homes for children should be situated in normal residential surroundings so as to give children the home environment that is conducive to healthy and safe development. It is the public policy of this state to provide children in a family daycare home the same home environment as provided in a traditional home setting.”

The California legislature previously declared that small daycare homes (those providing care for up to 8 children) were immune from HOA restrictions, like those against commercial use. (See H&S Code, section 1597.40(c).)  Prior to SB 234, local governments could decide whether to classify large daycare homes like small daycare homes or to subject the large daycare operators to additional restrictions and requirements.

In effect, SB 234 voids CC&R provisions that prohibit Owners from utilizing their properties as large daycare homes, so long as those Owners follow the necessary state licensing requirements and provide care for no more than 14 children.  The bill also informs those wishing to open daycare homes that remedies are available if the local governments or HOAs discriminate against them.

HOAs across the state should be aware that Owners have the right to open large daycare homes within the community, regardless of restrictions against commercial use or for single family use.  However, the new law does not allow Owners to violate other CC&R restrictions, like those prohibiting noise nuisances.

California HOA lawyers HOAs should always consult with their legal counsel when responding to Owners’ requests to open daycare homes within the communities in order to ensure compliance with the new state law and their CC&Rs.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Sarah A. Kyriakedes, Esq.

Serrano-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Serrano at Glenrose Ranch Homeowners Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Serrano is a brand new collection of single family homes by Richmond American Homes.  Located in the foothills of East Highland, residents enjoy easy access to the city, mountains, and Big Bear Lake.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with Serrano’s Board and management.

P9110024*New Legislation

Senate Bill 326 (“SB 326”) was recently enacted by the California Legislature and will take effect January 1, 2020. The bill accomplishes 3 main objectives: 1) it requires associations to conduct mandatory inspections for exterior elevated elements, such as decks, balconies, and walkways; 2) it invalidates and prohibits provisions in an association’s governing documents that restrict the board’s authority to initiate a legal proceeding against a developer for substandard construction; and 3) it requires an association to discuss with the membership the potential impacts of a construction defect action against the developer prior to the initiation of such an action.

Exterior Elevation Inspections

SB 326 introduces Civil Code Section 5551, which sets forth brand new requirements for associations with three or more multifamily dwelling units. For these associations, all exterior elevated elements that are supported in substantial part by wood or wood-based products, such as decks, balconies, stairways, and walkways, must be visually inspected every nine (9) years by a licensed structural engineer or architect (“Inspector”). The inspections are intended to determine whether the exterior elevated elements are in a generally safe condition and performing in accordance with applicable standards. These new requirements follow in the wake of a catastrophic balcony failure that resulted in a number of tragic deaths.

While the concept of visual inspections may sound fairly straightforward, the mechanics of the required inspections under Civil Code Section 5551 track unique and complex extrapolation protocols commonly employed in construction defect litigation. As a preliminary matter, not all elevated elements are required to be inspected. Rather, a statistician must be enlisted to prepare a randomized list of all the elevated elements qualifying for inspection (i.e. the total universe of those components that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building to deliver structural loads to the building from decks, balconies, stairways, walkways, and their railings, that have a walking surface elevated more than six feet above ground level, and that are supported in whole or in substantial part by wood or wood-based products). The randomized list must be prepared in such a way that the results of the inspections are representative of the project as a whole, within a margin of error of five (5) percent. This protocol allows for limited visual inspections (which will be a significant savings for the association), but provides confidence that those inspections are representative of the global onsite conditions.

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Flora-and-Strata-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Flora and Strata Neighborhood Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Flora and Strata is a brand new condominium community by Shea Homes and Brookfield Residential.  Located in the master planned community of The Village of Escaya in Chula Vista, residents enjoy a resort-style pool, clubhouse, wellness center, dog park, basketball court, soccer fields, and ampitheater.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with Flora and Strata’s Board and management.

e7ed987e-8884-4dc3-b587-7584e9935b7d*New Case Law

The California Court of Appeal recently ruled on the case of Eisen v. Tavangarian (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 626, which involved a view protection dispute between neighbors.  The Plaintiff Homeowners sued the Defendant Homeowners and alleged that Defendants’ remodeling violated several provisions of the HOA’s CC&Rs.

First, Plaintiffs pointed to the CC&R provision, which stated that only single-story family dwellings can be altered or erected, except for those two-story family dwellings that were initially approved by the Developer or Architectural Committee.  Plaintiffs argued that although the Defendants’ residence was an approved two-story home, it could not be later altered or modified to enlarge its silhouette.

Second, Plaintiffs pointed to the CC&R provision that prohibited architectural alterations without the Architectural Committee’s prior written approval.  This provision contained a clause that stated that the Architectural Committee’s powers expired in 1980.  The Plaintiffs argued that once architectural review expired, no architectural changes could be made since no entity existed to review said changes.

Lastly, Plaintiffs pointed to the restriction in the CC&Rs that prohibited “structures” from being erected that could potentially obstruct the view from another lot.

The trial court agreed that the Defendant violated the CC&Rs and ordered the Defendants to remove many of their architectural improvements, which detracted from the Plaintiffs’ view.  The trial court also ordered that the Defendants pay the Plaintiffs in the amount of $39,000.00 as interim damages for their view loss.

The appellate court disagreed and overruled a substantial portion of the trial court’s judgment.

As to the first provision of the CC&Rs, the Court of Appeal found that since Defendants’ second story home was initially approved by the Developer and/or Architectural Committee, this specific CC&R provision had no continuing authority.

As to the architectural review expiration clause, the Court of Appeals held that the absence of a reviewing entity meant that the Defendants no longer needed approval to make architectural changes.

Lastly, the appellate court interpreted the final provision of the CC&Rs to mean that all Homeowners were prohibited from building new structures that detracted from the views of other Homeowners, not that the Homeowners were prohibited from altering existing structures.  The term “structure” was interpreted to mean outbuildings, not primary residences.

As a result, the Defendants were permitted to maintain their home as remodeled with the exception of some hedges that needed to be trimmed.

California HOA lawyers This case demonstrates how different interpretations of the same provisions of the CC&Rs can vary greatly and produce drastically different results.  For this very reason, HOAs should consult with their legal counsel when interpreting and enforcing ambiguous CC&R restrictions.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Sarah A. Kyriakedes, Esq.