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homeowners_association*New Resource

Various laws have been established to protect the rights of disabled individuals, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (“FFHA”). These laws govern both public and private facilities, and set forth the degree to which an entity, such as a homeowners association (“HOA”), is responsible for making modifications or improvements to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This blog post is in response to recent client inquiries relating to this issue; it addresses the applicability of each of these laws to HOAs and sheds some light on the potential issues that HOA Boards and Managers should be aware of.

Our HOA lawyers have also published this information in our new resource entitled “Disabled Residents and the Law,” available for download from our library.

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hoa attorney*New Resource

As communities mature, the need for major repairs or renovations can become a major concern. Often because of unforeseen problems or insufficiently funded reserves, community associations (associations) are not capable of funding the necessary repairs immediately. In order to avoid a piecemeal repair effort in such situations, or the possibility of additional problems arising from the postponement of the repairs, it may become necessary for an association to borrow money. Fortunately, many banks have recognized this need and are willing to lend to associations for major repairs and renovations.

This blog post addresses some of the more frequently asked questions and important issues relating to association borrowing, such as the common reasons for borrowing, what a bank uses for collateral, and what effect the loan has on individual homeowners.

Our HOA attorneys have also published this information in our new resource entitled “Association Repair and Renovation Loans”, available for download from our library.

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charging_station1.jpgIn November of last year we discussed the introduction of Senate Bill 209 (SB 209), in our post entitled, “Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Your Community?” SB 209 as singed into law could be interpreted to broadly require that homeowners associations (Associations) allow electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on common areas–an apparent violation of existing California laws. Our blog post addressed SB 209’s various defects and deficiencies, and touched on a report by CAI’s Legislative Action Committee (“CLAC”) noting the need for an amendment to the law.

On February 29, 2012, Senate Bill 880 (SB 880) was signed into law as an “urgency statute.” SB 880, effective immediately, is a “clean up” measure intended to (1) correct constitutional flaws posed by SB 209, (2) resolve a conflict with Civil Code Section 1363.07, and (3) correct apparent ambiguities within the language of the statute.

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*New Case Lawhoa_standing2.jpg

It is easy to understand how Homeowners Associations (HOAs) have standing to initiate legal action for enforcement of their governing documents or for damage to the HOA’s common areas. However, under what circumstances may a HOA bring a lawsuit on behalf of its members for claims that the individual members may have against third parties? That question was addressed in the recent case of Glen Oaks Estates Homeowners Association v. Re/Max Premier Properties, Inc., (2012) (Glen Oaks).

In Glen Oaks, the Plaintiff/Appellant HOA sued several realtors (Realtors) who had assisted the developers of Glen Oaks Estates (Project) in marketing and selling its parcels. A significant slope failure occurred along parts of the Project’s common area slopes and driveway in 2005. The HOA’s members (Members) then discovered that the soil reports which analyzed the Project’s common areas were substantially defective and unreliable. Though the Realtors were aware of the defects in these reports, they had either failed to provide these reports to the Members or had provided them without any warning as to their defects. The Members also discovered that the Realtors had violated various statutory disclosure requirements and had either intentionally concealed or misrepresented material information, including providing a false budget with a deceptively low monthly dues statement to the Members during the sales process.

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ev.jpgIn furtherance of California’s energy conservation goals, Governor Brown has signed Senate Bill 209 (“SB209”) which prohibits Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) from unreasonably restricting the installation of electric vehicle (“EV”) charging staitons in their communities. SB209 will take effect January 1, 2012.

CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee (“CAI-CLAC”) worked with the author of SB209 to ensure that potential issues regarding an HOA’s responsibility and control over these stations would be adequately addressed.
The work of CAI-CLAC was reflected in Governor Brown’s signing message to the California Senate: “The author has assured me that she will pursue legislation that clearly protects the right of [HOAs] to establish reasonable rules for any use of common areas for charging stations.”

The aesthetic concerns over EV charging stations are easy to understand. However, there may be an incentive for a HOA to voluntarily install the stations for use by its members/tenants:
a new revenue stream. Practically every major Southern California utility company offers discounted rates on electricity used to charge EVs. However, according to a recent decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”), “condominium associations that provide electric vehicle charging on the premises as a service to condominium owners…that have not dedicated their equipment for public use” are not regulated as public utilities and therefore not subject to various rate controls when deciding what price to charge for the use of the stations.Thus, a HOA could install the stations for use by its members/tenants and ultimately profit from them.

floodedlake.jpgProperty owners in a partially-built Northern California subdivision may be compensated by the State for flooding damage to their properties.

A Sacramento County Superior Court ruling in April held that the state violated the constitutionally property rights of the property owners by allowing the local lake to flood the surrounding landscape. The California Coastal Commission and the state Department of Fish and Game were managing the lake’s water levels in such a way as to cause flooding to a significant portion of the property owners’ land.

The court ruled that, as a result of the management plan, the state had effectively seized the homeowners land without compensation. The second phase of the trial will require a determination as to the type and amount of damage each property owner will receive from the state.

To read the full story, click here.

It is important for property owners to understand how their private property rights interact with the rights and privileges of state and local municipal bodies.