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Newsletter-Issue-57-300x167In case you missed it, Issue # 57 of our ‘Community Association Update’ newsletter is available now!

Topics covered in this issue include:

  • AB 1410 – Speech on Social Media; Room Rentals; Enforcement During Emergencies
  • AB 1738 – EV Charging Stations in Existing Multi-Family Developments
  • SB 897 – Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Artus v. Gramercy Towers
  • Fowler v. Golden Pacific Bancorp, Inc.

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New-Client-Photo-Template-0219-1-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Seabridge Village Master Community Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Located in Huntington Beach, Seabridge Village is a 24-hour guard gated community that is surrounded by mature landscaping and man made lakes.  Residents enjoy two clubhouses, multiple swimming pools/spas, 4 tennis courts, racquetball court, and gym.

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

New-Client-Photo-Template-0219-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Los Lagos Homeowners Association, Inc. to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Los Lagos was started in 1980 on 35 acres. The eighty-nine beautiful custom homes were designed by renowned architect Barry Berkus. The hand-carved imported entry fountain, abundant trees, lush landscaping, ponds, winding waterways, four pools with spas, plus tennis and pickleball courts envelop the community in uniqueness. Los Lagos proudly stands among the finest private communities in the Coachella Valley.

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

bigstock-Businesswoman-Raising-Hand-Up-230281444-scaled-1-e1668125240647In the State of California, most HOA’s are non-profit corporations managed by a board of directors composed of volunteer homeowners elected by the membership. Boards derive their authority from the governing documents including the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that impose rules and restrictions on the use of property within the development. The board of directors, acting on behalf of the HOA, is responsible for the maintenance of the common areas of the property, enforcing the governing documents, and collecting assessments. While most boards delegate duties to management companies and rely on experts such as attorneys and CPA’s to aid in decision-making, the board is ultimately responsible for decisions and actions taken by the HOA.

HOA board members are not compensated for their services and are typically not experts or even very familiar with the strict requirements for HOA management. While new directors typically run with an altruistic motive to help their communities and “get things done,” it is important that they understand the structure of a community association, the association’s authority over the development and its owners, and the unique way an association is governed. Board education is a great way to familiarize new members with an overview of their duties and responsibilities and to provide a refresher for existing Board members so that the HOA runs smoothly, efficiently, and with minimal exposure to liability. Board education can also help protect directors for incurring personal liability for decisions made in the scope of their duties.

Board education is offered by management companies, law firms, CAI chapters, and others with expertise and knowledge in HOA governance. There is no one-size-fits-all educational program as the issues faced by HOA’s are often unique to each association. Some general topics for Board education include but are not limited to:

  • General Duties and Responsibilities of Directors
  • Laws Applicable to Common Interest Developments
  • Types and Hierarchy of Governing Documents
  • Business Judgment Rule
  • Conducting Meetings
  • Enforcement and Disciplinary Matters
  • Financial Responsibilities
  • Maintenance Responsibilities
  • Assessments & Collection
  • Director Conduct
  • Contracts
California HOA lawyers An educated board oftentimes results in a better-functioning HOA with less legal fees, less special assessments, less contentiousness, and higher property values. Board members who are willing to put personal differences and agendas aside, are open to considering expert advice and differing viewpoints, and who work collaboratively with other directors and in the best interests of the Association as a whole, are the directors who best serve their communities. While directors will always be subject to criticism since it is impossible to please everyone, with proper education, those directors’ actions will better withstand such scrutiny.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Carrie N. Heieck, Esq.

Pinnacle-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Pinnacle at Dublin Ranch Subassociation to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Pinnacle is a gated high end community in Dublin Ranch. Residents enjoy lots ranging in size from 1/4 to 1/3 acre, many of which have sweeping views of the Dublin Ranch Golf Course and Amador Valley.

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

Broadmoor-Northridge-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Broadmoor Northridge Community Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Broadmoor Northridge is a collection of single family homes located in Anaheim Hills. Residents enjoy two community pools and a small tot lot.

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

Civil-LitigationSince COVID-19, followers of the real estate market may have noticed that the housing market is currently booming.  There are not as many sellers as there are buyers, so the competition to obtain a buyer’s dream home is through the roof.  Many of these potential buyers are looking to buy their next home within a community association (“HOA”).  The competition to buy homes creates an increase in the number of questions from real estate agents and mortgage/escrow companies that are directed toward the association and its agents regarding any litigation involving the association.  What should the Board and manager be aware of?  What should they do in certain situations?

The HOA has no legal obligation to make disclosure to buyers of properties within the HOA or other third parties.  These third parties may be real estate agents, loan processors, escrow companies, or anyone else looking for information regarding the HOA and is not an HOA member.

Even though the HOA has no legal obligation to make disclosures, its management company and even its Board will be asked numerous times by third parties to provide further information regarding any pre-litigation matter or lawsuit the HOA is engaged in. Some typical questions are:

      • Can the HOA or management provide a copy of the complaint?
      • Can the HOA provide certain certifications or expert documentation?
      • How much money is the HOA and/or management being sued for?
      • Would the anticipated or known damages and legal expenses be expected to exceed some percentage of the HOA’s reserve fund?
      • Can the HOA’s attorney provide an opinion that any award granted in the lawsuit will be covered under the HOA’s master insurance policy?
      • When will the matter be resolved and will it be resolved in the HOA’s favor?

Sometimes, these third parties will require that the answer to the above questions come from the HOA’s legal counsel. In any case, neither the HOA’s Board, nor its managing agent, or any of its agents (including legal counsel) should answer any of the above questions.  If legal counsel is handling the matter, they should prepare a disclosure letter that the HOA may use to present to any third parties requesting further information.  In addition to not answering any of the questions above, the disclosure letter should also not contain any predictions or conclusions.  The more vague the better, as the disclosure letter is meant to be an official tool to block further communication from third parties.  If applicable, the disclosure letter will provide the appropriate contact information if the HOA’s insurance carrier picked up the case and assigned insurance defense counsel and an adjuster. If the HOA and its managing agent need help navigating this scenario, they should direct all questions to its legal counsel.

If a homeowner wants more information regarding any pre-litigation or lawsuit in order to refinance their home, and the pre-litigation or lawsuit is not resolved, no material or information should be disclosed beyond the fact that things are in progress.  The general disclosure letter may be provided to the homeowner.  The HOA is not obligated to assist homeowners in refinancing and should not if the information being requested is privileged (confidential).

Any questionnaire sent to the HOA or its managing agent should be forwarded to legal counsel for analyzation.  The questionnaire should not be filled out and returned without legal counsel’s input as any disclosures might create unwanted liabilities for the HOA.

California HOA lawyers While evading questions from homeowners and third parties might seem frustrating, such action is a necessity.  Pre-litigation and the proceedings of a lawsuit do not guarantee any outcome.  The HOA and its managing agent should know that homeowners and third parties will be very aggressive in trying to obtain further information.  However, the best course of action would usually be to: (1) direct the matter to the HOA’s legal counsel; (2) provide the disclosure letter; and (3) indicate, in some fashion, that there is no further information at this time as the matter is ongoing or in the process of being resolved (descriptions will vary depending on each scenario).

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Vivian X. Tran, Esq.

Canyon-Crest-Estates-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Canyon Crest Estates Homeowners Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Canyon Crest Estates is a condominium community located in Corona Del Mar. Residents enjoy a community pool, spa and tennis courts.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with Canyon Crest Estates’ Board and management.

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

Waverly Terrace is a condominium community located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Residents enjoy a community pool, sauna, and fitness center.

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

pexels-photo-2179205There will come a time when a homeowner violates an association’s governing documents (i.e., CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations, Architectural Guidelines…etc).  If there is a possibility those violations will be litigated, the association must have a proper trail of evidence to bolster their claims.

Q:  What are some types of violations that would need evidence?

A:  Unapproved architectural improvements (i.e., walls, patio covers), failing to maintain property exterior in planned developments (i.e., shutters, paint, landscaping), inappropriate parking…etc.

Q:  What should the association or its community manager do when there is this type of violation?

A:  For these violations, the association’s community manager should clearly document in their written records: what the violation was, which governing documents provision was violated, who committed the violation, if known (e.g., an owner, guest, tenant), when the violation occurred (i.e., date and time), where the violation occurred, and anything else that might be relevant.  Additionally, a photo of the violation should be taken on the date it occurred and reoccurred.

Q:  How should the photo be taken?

A:  The photo should be taken directly in front of the violation.  There should be plenty of natural light to clearly see what type of violation it is.  Flash should be utilized if it improves the picture quality.  The photo should not be taken from within a vehicle because there will be light and color distortion; furthermore, the violation photo should not include portions of the vehicle.  If there is a parking violation that occurs in the evening, any photos submitted by the association patrol vendor should be taken from the outside of a vehicle.

It is important that the photo be taken with a high-definition camera, if possible, so as to not be grainy or blurry.  There should be no objects distracting from the violation (e.g., people, pets, vehicles).

Q:  Why so particular about the violation photo and written evidence?

A:  If the matter goes to litigation, the association will need to prove that a homeowner has committed the violation(s) alleged by the association.  A judge will want to see actual physical photo evidence and clear documentation of the homeowner’s violation history.  Without proper evidence, the association might have a hard time winning its case.  If there is a clear violation history and evidence, the judge will be able to order the homeowner to correct the violations.

Even if the matter does not go to litigation, a proper trail of evidence will assist the association’s general counsel in dealing with the matter.

California HOA lawyers The association should request that management take a photo of every violation if they wish to properly retain evidence and enforce their governing documents.  Without a photo, no matter how big or small the violation, the homeowner can always argue that the association was mistaken, and the violation never occurred.  It would be a case of “he said, she said” argument that would go nowhere—it would definitely not hold up in court.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Vivian X. Tran, Esq.

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