Earlier this year, the California Legislature proposed AB 2912 (Irwin) in an effort “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 significantly increases the financial review requirements of HOA boards of directors, limits the ability for automatic transfer of funds without board approval, and also imposes a requirement for the HOA to purchase and maintain a fidelity bond. AB 2912 was signed on September 17, 2018 and its changes to the law take effect January 1, 2019. The following information summarizes the new state of the law in the wake of AB 2912’s passage:
Requirement for Written Board Approval of Account Transfers Above $10k:
Existing Civil Code § 5380 has been amended to prohibit the automatic/electronic transfer of funds greater than $10,000 or 5% of a HOA’s total combined reserve and operating account deposits (whichever is lower), without prior, written approval from the HOA’s board of directors. This requirement is also reiterated in new Civil Code § 5502. HOA boards that previously gave blanket consent to their managing agent for such electronic/automatic transfers should expect the need to now give written approval for such transfers (i.e., large payments to vendors of the HOA) each time a transfer is required.
Financial Review by Board Must Now be Performed on a Monthly Basis:
The law previously required the Board to review the financial information of the HOA on at least a quarterly basis. Civil Code § 5500 has been amended to now require that review to be performed on a monthly basis. Moreover, it now requires the review to include the HOA’s check register, monthly general ledger, and delinquent assessment receivable reports.
But what about HOA Boards that only meet quarterly? Fortunately, new Section 5501 was added to the Civil Code to address this issue. It provides that the financial review requirements may be met “when every individual member of the board, or a subcommittee of the board consisting of the treasurer and at least one other board member” reviews the financial information “independent of a board meeting” and that review is (a) subsequently ratified by the board at its next meeting and (b) the ratification is memorialized in the board’s meeting minutes. For HOAs that meet on a quarterly basis, there will likely be a need to form an executive finance committee of the board as contemplated by Section 5501. Such HOAs should work with their legal counsel to draft an appropriate charter for such a committee.
HOAs Now Legally Required to Purchase a Fidelity Bond:
A fidelity bond is a form of insurance protection which covers losses that the policyholder incurs as a result of fraudulent acts by individuals. It is used by a HOA to insure losses caused by the dishonest acts of the association’s employees, managers, board members or officers. Previously there was no legal requirement for HOAs to purchase fidelity bonds; however, many HOAs do so either because their CC&Rs require it and/or because it makes good business sense.
New Section 5806 is added to the Civil Code to formally require HOAs to purchase a fidelity bond. Unless a HOA’s governing documents require greater coverage amounts, the fidelity bond must be purchased and maintained in a coverage amount that is equal to or more than the combined amount of reserves of the HOA and total assessments for three (3) months. The bond must also include computer fraud and funds transfer fraud. Additionally, for HOAs that contract with a third-party managing agent or management company (which is the vast majority of HOAs in California), the HOA’s fidelity bond coverage must also include coverage for dishonest acts by the managing agent or the management company and its employees.
||HOA boards should work with their managing agents to develop a protocol for adhering to the new legal requirements regarding automatic transfers of funds and monthly financial reviews. Additionally, HOAs should contact their insurance professionals to ensure that they are carrying fidelity bond coverage which satisfies the new legal requirements.