Condo Trapper, Wrong Insurance

Dear Mr. Richardson, I’m on the Board of a 20 year old complex. We have over 200 units. The CCR’s state that all pets in the common area must be kept on a leash, even cats. The rule has been enforced sporadically over the years, however one of my fellow directors is very interested in setting traps and removing anything caught. The CCR’s state that “any pet deemed a nuisance by the Association shall be removed from the Property”. Wouldn’t that mean that before removing a pet, it should be determined whether it’s a nuisance?….If this director succeeded in setting all of these traps, could an owner challenge us if their pet was taken away without a warning? It seems to me that if a pet is roaming, the violation should be treated as all violations:. letters, hearings and fines. S.S., Garden Grove Dear S.S., So, your Board has somebody who wants to be an urban trapper? Will the director be duly authorized to be judge and executioner, without a board meeting? When a pet is trapped, where will that animal go, and if the animal is injured in the process, who will pay the veterinary bill? You may want to ask the Orange County Animal Control Services about all this. Yes, it’s a bad idea. If someone violates the rule, set a hearing and impose a fine. Your city probably has leash laws regarding dogs, so a complaint could also be lodged there regarding dogs. Best (and good luck to the dangerously roaming kitties),Kelly Dear Kelly, I am president of a very small HOA in a gated community. One member...

The CID Act and the Old HOA, Presidential Power

Dear Mr. Richardson, I recently discovered your “HOA Homefront” column in the newspaper and find it very valuable. Your mention of the Davis Stirling Act has had me reading it for days but has not answered my question of whether or not my HOA is bound by its terms. My HOA documents were created in the early ’70’s and have not been changed since at least 1983, if ever. However, my association on occasion refers to sections of the Civil Code incorporating the Davis-Stirling Act in their legal notices. Can the Board, who are otherwise not governed by this Act, voluntarily adopt this Act? If they want to, don’t they have to put it to a vote of the members as it definitely changes our current CC&Rs etc? Your help is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, T.G., Santa Ana Dear T.G., Generally speaking, the first line of authority comes from your governing documents. However, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (“CID Act”) controls on topics including board meeting procedure, member discipline process, reserve disclosures, and assessment collection, and so often overrides outdated documents. In other topics, the Act defers to your governing documents, and fills in the blanks when your documents do not adequately cover something. The law controls even upon associations established long before the Act’s first version (1985). If your documents are that old, chances are you need a lot of legal assistance to determine what the HOA is legally required to do. Your association would benefit greatly from having its attorney help create an updated set of documents, reflecting current law and customized to the needs of your...

Our President Is Out of Line, Director/Manager Communications

Hi Mr. Richardson, Every week I am intrigued by your articles on the HOA Homefront. When I read your articles, I feel like I can relate to the topic you’ve written about. I’m emailing you to inquire about the proper way to ask an HOA president to resign. The current president came to our HOA meeting drunk, belligerent, extremely rude and disrespectful. Homeowners who attended the meeting were appalled at his behavior. Please help! We understand it is a volunteer position but we want him out! K.F., Santa Ana Dear K.F., The position of HOA President holds very little power, and like any board position, is one of service, not of control. Some people like being president a little too much, seeming to feel they are not bound by the same rules as the rest of the community. Everybody, including the president, must behave. A board unhappy with the performance of any officer (including the president) can meet in an open meeting to review officer positions, after having placed this subject on the published agenda for that meeting. A board majority vote is all it takes to reassign officer positions. Perhaps in open forum, or in a letter to the other directors, your neighbors can express desire for different leadership. Also, if a president acts up like that in a meeting, I assume there is no manager or attorney attending – because I would also look to them for some education and leadership about board conduct. Consider adopting meeting conduct rules, by which all from the president to the newest member of the association are held to certain reasonable...
Complaint Information, Prescriptive Easements

Complaint Information, Prescriptive Easements

Dear Mr. Richardson, I received a notice from my homeowners association stating that I have a tree on my property that is too tall and should be cut in half or removed. Admittedly, it is a little tall (no taller than many others in the neighborhood ) and I don’t mind trimming it. Do I have the right to know who complained? K. G., Lake Forest Dear K.G., It is great you are cooperating with your association, for the benefit of your neighbors. You have substantial rights regarding association records, but complaint information is not among the records you have a right to see. Civil Code 1365.2 lists a wide variety of financial records members may review. I am also often asked if a member has a right to see disciplinary files regarding a complaint against them by a neighbor. I always prefer neighbors to work together, and to express concerns directly to neighbors, but not everyone is comfortable doing so. Some are afraid of retaliation, and others are uncomfortable being the “bad guy”. Revealing complaint information is a bad idea. In your instance, I am assuming you would like to know so you can apologize to the complainer, and assure them you are handling the issue. Perhaps you could ask the association board or management to relay it to the complainer for you. If the complainer wants to reach out to you, then it is their choice. Thanks for your question, Kelly Dear Mr. Richardson, I enjoy your newspaper articles and just went on line to view your other articles hoping to find an answer to this question...
Hard to Find Volunteers, We Want to Form a CID

Hard to Find Volunteers, We Want to Form a CID

Dear Mr. Richardson, What happens when the owners of the units in a home owners association are no longer willing or perhaps even able to serve on the Board of Directors? Circumstances indicate that if the present board, aging and increasingly infirm, resign, our HOA may find itself unable to get other members to serve on the board. I have heard several people say that the state will take over the operation of the association. I would very much like to know what the process is and also cost.  I am the association president. Please do not use the name or location of this association publically, until we know what we are doing! Sincerely,B.R., Pasadena B.R., If no one is willing to serve on the Board, the state will not take over the association. On petition to the Superior Court, a judge might order the association into receivership. That would be horrible for your community. The receiver will be paid a fee awarded by the court – your association would have no say in the matter. The fee would be much more than what normal management companies charge. If you can’t get volunteers for the board, there usually are reasons. Is your board doing everything itself, or does the Association have a management company? Does the Board conduct itself unprofessionally? Are meetings far too long and conflict-filled? Years ago one of my client associations (100+ condominiums) was managed by a pair of retired members. One handled the finances and records, and the other managed the building. They wondered why nobody would volunteer to serve as a director, but it...