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

Links Pointe homes are located in the coastal community of Laguna Niguel. Residents enjoy lush green views of the greenbelt, shimmering creek and beach trail.

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

funeral-etiquette-1000x500-getty-1200x675-1When a delinquent homeowner dies, there is a strict one-year statute of limitations to sue them or to continue a lawsuit against their estate. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 366.2). This is true even if the statute of limitations would have been longer had the person survived. This harsh rule applies even if you did not know that the person died so Boards and management should take notice if a homeowner does not respond to communications or suddenly falls in arrears and then investigate further by contacting family members or emergency contacts during circumstances of non-responsiveness and/or extended non-payment.

The second important rule when a debtor dies is that when a probate estate has opened, any creditor has only four months from the date the executor or administrator is appointed to file a claim in probate. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.40; Prob. Code §§ 9100 et seq.). Sometimes the decedent has no family or heirs or the heirs fail to open a probate. In this case, the HOA may reach out to the public administrator in the county where the real property is located to request that they open a probate. If this is not done, then it is incumbent on the HOA to open the probate as a creditor to ensure that the above-referenced statute of limitations does not run. (See Prob. Code §§800; 48).

Since a dead person cannot be sued, the HOA must sue the estate of the decedent. If a lawsuit was filed while the homeowner was alive, but they are now deceased, a motion should be timely filed to substitute the deceased person with their estate. (Cal Code Civ. Proc. § 377.31). Counsel should be mindful that the motion must be filed within three (3) months of the rejection of the HOA’s creditor’s claim, which is deemed rejected if not responded to within thirty (30) days of submission. (Prob. Code §§ 9256, 9352, 9353, 9371). It is important to note that once the creditor’s claim is filed, the one-year time bar pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §366.2 is tolled. Nevertheless, the creditor’s claim must be filed within one year of the decedent’s death or the claim is barred entirely.

Thankfully, the above harsh requirements do not apply when the debt is one that can be secured via a lien on real property that may be foreclosed, such as with assessment liens. This is because such debt attaches to the property and not to the deceased person.

California HOA lawyers The death of a delinquent homeowner can pose complex and time-sensitive challenges. This is why HOA’s should promptly contact their counsel or collections professional for assistance in the event of a delinquent homeowner’s death.

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

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

Dominguez Hills Village is a private, gated single family home community in Carson. Residents enjoy at a clubhouse, swimming pool, basketball court and tennis courts, tot lot, entry gates, and parks and walkways.

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

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

Cerrato features spacious new homes on walkable tree-lined streets. Located a few blocks from Downtown Hollister, Cerrato offers convenient access to nearby parks, schools, shops and restaurants.

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

cs_imageThe rising cost of electricity, environmental considerations, clean energy and tax savings, utility company programs designed to help alleviate the demand on the grid, and the proliferation of affordable residential solar energy systems have made solar power more popular than ever.  Consequently, Associations are seeing a sharp rise in homeowner requests to install solar energy systems.  This presents a particularly unique set of challenges for condominium developments because of their shared roofs and other similar common area components.

Under Civil Code § 714.1, if a condo owner (“homeowner”) wants to install a solar energy system (“solar panels”) on a shared common area rooftop or adjacent garage or carport, Associations can no longer prohibit them.  California law broadly requires Associations to allow homeowners to install solar panels on common area roofs of the buildings in which their unit is located or on the roofs of adjacent carports or garages.  See Civ. Code §§ 714.1, 4600, and 4746.

Moreover, solar panel installations are an exception to the rule requiring 67 percent of membership approval before the Association grants use of any portion of a common area to a particular homeowner.  See Civ. Code § 4600(b)(3)(J).  This Civil Code exception is intended to make solar adoption in condos easier and streamline common area roof installations.

Therefore, any provision of an Association’s governing documents that effectively prohibits or materially impedes the installation or use of solar panels is deemed void and unenforceable.  For instance, Association restrictions that raise the total cost of the solar panels system by more than $1,000 or decrease its performance by more than ten (10) percent from what was originally proposed by the applicant homeowner run afoul of the law and are deemed void.

However, this does not mean that a homeowner can install as many solar panels on the common area roof as he or she desires without consideration of neighbors in the building.  Civil Code § 4746(b) provides that when reviewing a request to install a solar energy system on a multifamily common area roof shared by more than one homeowner pursuant to §§ 714 and 714.1, an Association may impose additional reasonable provisions.

Therefore, if a homeowner wants to install solar panels onto a common rooftop, the Association can require a solar site survey to help determine the breakdown of usable space among all homeowners sharing the roof for potential solar hardware.  See Civ. Code § 4746.  Because each Association is different, it is up to the Board of each Association to decide what is a fair and reasonable equitable allocation of a common area roof.  If practical, each homeowner should get a proportion of the usable roof space that would result in an equal amount of energy output.  This way, rather than the first installer of solar panels utilizing the ideal area(s) of the shared solar roof to the disadvantage of subsequent installers, the above equal allocation approach promotes solar equitable ownership and equal opportunity to the same quantity of solar energy.

If the site survey determines that a rooftop solar system would be impractical or the allocation of shared roof space is untenable, the Association could deny installation.  See Civ. Code § 4746.

In summation, while the Association may not unreasonably restrict an owner’s request and the CA statute expressly allows for such panels on common area roofs, the Association may reasonably attach a series of requirements and conditions pursuant to which the applicant homeowner must: 1) Notify the other homeowners with the shared roof of their desired solar system installation; 2) maintain a liability coverage policy at all times and provide the Association with the corresponding certificate of insurance within 14 days of approval of the application; 3) conduct a solar site survey and provide the Association with a copy of the results, which among other things shall also include a determination of the equitable allocation of the usable solar roof area among all owners sharing the same roof, garage, or carport; 4) bind the owner and all successive owners for costs of maintenance and damages with all repair responsibilities being allocated to the homeowner and his/her successor(s); and 5) require the homeowner’s disclosures to all prospective buyers (and renters) of the restrictions and responsibilities.

The above requirements notwithstanding, the Association should get ahead of potential future issues involving solar panel systems by adopting guidelines addressing the policies and procedures regarding the application and installation of solar panels.  Additionally, Boards should consider requiring the execution and recordation of a maintenance and indemnity agreement whereby the applicant homeowner assumes responsibility for the costs of repairing damage to, among other things, the common area resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal or replacement of the solar panels and all related hardware.  Such an agreement should also address what happens when the System needs to be removed or re-installed to accommodate community-wide roofing projects the Association may undertake in the future.

There are further concerns and other nuances that should be considered for each individual Association to ensure full compliance with the operative laws and effectively mitigate legal exposure.

California HOA lawyers Contact your HOA attorney to conduct an in-depth analysis for your community to ensure compliance with the legal requirements and help prepare a related Solar Policy and Maintenance & Indemnity Agreement.

-Blog post authored by TLG Attorney, Sam I. Khil, Esq.

New-Newsletter-Template-300x167In case you missed it, Issue # 56 of our ‘Community Association Update’ newsletter is available now!

Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Should an HOA Interfere with Parental Rights? NO!
  • Retain Your HOA Counsel Throughout Insurance Claim Matters
  • “Evergreen” Clauses – Avoiding Self-Renewing Contracts
  • Non-Compete Clauses

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.

Summerwind-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome Summerwind Townhomes of Anaheim Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Summerwind is a Mediterranean inspired condominium community located within minutes to stores, restaurants, services, and entertainment in the Anaheim East of Harbor region of Anaheim.  Residents enjoy a community pool and spa.

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

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

Pelican Ridge Estates is located in the Pelican Hill Communities in Newport Coast. With its spectacular views of Newport Beach, Newport Coastline, Catalina Island, City Night Lights, the Pacific Ocean and beautiful sunsets, Pelican Ridge Estates is home to some of the most sought after luxury real estate in Southern California. Residents enjoy a 24-hour guarded gate, clubhouse, pool and tennis courts.

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

downloadHomeowner and tenant complaints filed with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) are on the rise and are increasingly lodged against Associations, Boards, and management companies.  The complaints are generally directly filed with the DFEH on a variety of grounds, but occasionally involve certain fair housing claims that are referred to the department by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

The DFEH is responsible for enforcing state fair housing laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of categories like sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.  The department’s broad enforcement authority applies to housing providers including common interest developments, landlords, and property management companies.

A typical DFEH complaint process commences with DFEH complaint including service of a short statement of allegations from the homeowner or tenant.  This usually signals the beginning of a rigorous inquiry and investigation for the Association, its Board, and the management company, all of whom may be initially identified as actual or potential respondents.

While the DFEH in theory is supposed to be neutral in its investigations, the investigators working for the department often tend to be sympathetic to the complainant(s) by virtue of the tenets of the department and may therefore adopt the role of an advocate when serving severe demands and questionnaires on the respondent(s).

Moreover, it is important to note that the initial complaint filing with the DFEH does not mean that the DFEH has already determined whether there is reasonable cause to believe any laws have been violated or that the DFEH will in fact prosecute a legal action against the named respondent(s).  Rather, it means that the DFEH has preliminarily determined that the received complaint, the allegations, and the named parties fall within the investigative purview of the department and are subject to the laws that the DFEH is tasked to enforce.

Nonetheless, because this process tends to be quite involved with numerous nuanced considerations and legal implications for the Association, its Board, management, and the Association’s insurance carrier, Boards should immediately engage the Association’s legal counsel at the very outset to help it navigate the DFEH’s demanding process and help formulate a comprehensive legal strategy.

The above notwithstanding, as an alternative to the department’s active investigation, the DFEH also has a mediation program, whereby it attempts to resolve complaints through free internal dispute resolution services.  If the parties mutually agree to mediate, then the complaint response and the active investigation is stayed pending the outcome of the DFEH mediation.

Otherwise, the DFEH investigation continues, and the department will assess the facts and legal issues of the case.  These investigations include, among other things, reviewing information and evidence from complainants, respondents, or other sources.  When a respondent answers a complaint, the DFEH investigator reviews it with the complainant.  Meanwhile, the respondent(s) may contact the assigned investigator to discuss the complaint, request any needed extension of time to respond to the department’s investigative questionnaires, or to address any other concerns.

Thereafter, the DFEH uses the facts obtained through its investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that a law the department enforces has been violated.  If not, the case is closed.  If there is reasonable cause, the investigator notifies the parties of this determination, may advise that the department intends to file a lawsuit in court, wherein the department replaces the complainant(s) as the moving party and substitute in as the Plaintiff, and the DFEH’s legal department will then take over the matter for further handling.

However, before the DFEH files a lawsuit, it typically requires the parties to go to mediation.  If the case is not settled during this mediation, the DFEH may proceed with filing its lawsuit in court.

Typical settlement remedies at mediation and/or relief sought in DFEH actions include payment of statutory monetary fines and other damages, attorney’s fees and costs, amendment of Association’s CC&Rs and rules, Board and management staff undergoing fair housing training regarding the rights and responsibilities of housing providers, posting of DFEH fair housing posters throughout the community and/or distributing fair housing brochures to all residents, etc.

Based on the above rigorous DFEH process and the range of challenges it presents, it is imperative that the Association’s Board and management stay ahead of the problem by ensuring that their actions and policies are in accordance with the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Federal Fair Housing Act, and that they do not inadvertently run contrary to state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on the above cited categories.

California HOA lawyers Moreover, the Association’s legal counsel should be engaged at the very outset of any DFEH complaint process so it may duly protect the Association’s interests and help the Board navigate the above-outlined demanding process. 

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

4S-Ranch-300x169It’s our privilege to welcome 4S Ranch Master Association to Tinnelly Law Group’s growing family of HOA clients.

Nestled in the scenic hills just north of San Diego, the 1700-acre, master-planned community of 4S Ranch includes more than 3,700 homes (4,015 at build-out).  Set on the original 3,600 acres purchased in 1938 by Albert Ralphs, head of the Los Angeles-based grocery store chain, 4S Ranch offers a diversity of natural elements, with more than 10 miles of walking trails, plenty of park land, and 1,600 acres of dedicated open space. Additionally, 4S Ranch boasts a brand new Boys & Girls Club with a $1M Junior Olympic pool and huge indoor gymnasium, available to all families living in the community. 4S Ranch is home to more than 3,500 families, in neighborhoods of spacious condos as well as single-family houses that boast plans of up to 5,300 square feet and expansive lots that permit lush views of the landscaping. With dozens of completed phases, and more homes to come, 4S Ranch attracts a global market and boasts one of the most diverse populations of the coastal regions.

hoa law firm Our HOA lawyers and staff look forward to working with 4S Ranch’s Board and management.
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