I was interested in your recent answer that a club’s storage space would not be considered exclusive use common area. Statewide there are thousands of HOAs with swim teams, tennis teams, bridge clubs, etc using HOA facilities. Surely this is also permissible if the board gives its blessing?
Exclusive use areas are defined by Civil Code 4145 as areas serving one or more members and are appurtenant to the interests of those members. A club storage room or closet space may be allocated by the HOA board, but since it is not dedicated to a single home or group of homes, it would not be “exclusive use” under the statute. Therefore, the Civil Code 4600 vote requirement would not apply to that allocation.
Thanks for your question,
We were told by a board member that the patio attached to our unit is “common area with exclusive use rights” for us, but no one seems to have any documentation. The neighbor behind us disputes this and is now asking for documents showing that the patio is ours (or is for our exclusive use), but we cannot locate anything saying so. We asked the management company for documents related to this, but they don’t have anything, and I couldn’t find anything in the CC&Rs. How can I prove that we are the only ones who can use the patio (or is it possible to show that we own it?)?
L.G., Beverly Hills
Exclusive use common areas are hopefully defined by the CC&Rs and Condominium Plan, but if they don’t address the subject, Civil Code 4145 provides an answer. If the governing documents do not state otherwise, then the patio originally constructed to be used by one unit would be expected under Civil 4145(b) to be exclusive use common area for your unit. Some Condominium Plans characterize balconies, patios or garages as part of the unit – you will usually see that in the “notes and definitions” portion of the document.
If an HOA can grant exclusive use area, can it also change that grant, for example, if the needs of the community have changed? How does one reverse the process? When a vote to grant exclusive use takes place, is the exclusive use for an indefinite period of time or until a new vote is taken? Thanks in advance for your insight!
M.F., San Clemente
If the HOA grants exclusive use rights to an owner, either through a membership vote under Civil Code 4600 or by the board through an applicable exception, a written license agreement can help document the terms and conditions under which the permission is granted. Sometimes, it makes sense to have that license be terminable, so the HOA can reclaim use of the area if necessary and in the best interests of the HOA. Any such agreement is best filed with the County Registrar-Recorder (i.e., “recorded”). That way the present owner, HOA, and future owners all have record of the agreement. Civil 4600 does not provide for votes to reverse a grant previously approved by the members, so such a grant would appear to be permanent.
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Kelly@rodllp.com. Past columns at www.HOAHomefront.com. All rights reserved®.