Short Term Rentals: Both Sides

Short Term Rentals: Both Sides

Hello Mr. Richardson, We have a guest house on our half acre lot that we have rented out (using a short-term rental service). We are always home in the main house when guests are present, therefore, there has never been any issue with noise or nuisances over the many times we have rented it out. It has been a nice source of income that has allowed us to pay our utilities, some college tuition for our children and HOA dues. The HOA sent a letter to us stating that we were running a commercial business from our home which is forbidden. Is there anything that protects the ability of a homeowner to rent out a room or, in our case, a spare guest house short of changing our listing to a monthly only rental? Thanks for any help on this! K.A., San Diego Dear Mr. Richardson, Is it legal for one of the other owners in my association to use a unit as a short-term rental without input from the other owners? Privately it was discussed among those of us who vehemently oppose this callous disregard for our concerns. Is this owner acting within legal parameters?  Your input will be greatly appreciated. Thank you. I anxiously await your reply. L.H., South Pasadena Dear K.A. and L.H., While you are on opposite sides of this issue, the basic response is the same. Short-term rentals are considered by many as a commercial and therefore non-residential use of the property. While many web-based companies offer convenient advertising of such rentals, it is closer to a hotel-type operation than a tenancy. An increasing...
Limiting Rentals in Our Association

Limiting Rentals in Our Association

Kelly, Our board and management do a great job of overall maintenance and landscaping of the complex. Rental units have become a consistent problem to the quality of life in our community. At a recent HOA meeting our board and property manager refused to reveal how many units are rentals. Thank You, E.G., Santa Clarita Dear Mr. Richardson, I have read in the past that condominium complexes are not allowed to have more than a certain percentage of rentals vs owners occupying units. Some of we owners are becoming concerned with the fact that some owners instead of selling their properties have elected to rent them. We feel we may end up living in a less desirable neighborhood. Are there any laws stating the enforcement of so many rentals per total units? J.G., Foothill Ranch Dear Attorney Richardson, Our HOA wants to limit renters to a certain percentage of units, a goal we agree with. However, I question whether the language in the CC&R’s is legal and good policy. Specifically, the CC&R’s say that any unit that is not owner occupied is considered to be leased. Would appreciate your comments on this sort of language. Thanks as always, for your interesting and always educational articles. M.H., Riverside Dear E.G., J.G., and M.H., Condominium associations have increasingly worked to limit rentals in recent years. That topic became more important in 2009 when FannieMae and FHA adopted condominium lending guidelines requiring the entire condominium project to meet certain requirements before approving loans on any unit in the project. Detached condominiums and planned developments are exempt from the project lending requirements. One...
Boards Elections [Part 1]

Boards Elections [Part 1]

Mr. Richardson, What recourse does a member have if the board refuses to abide by the governing documents or state law? Our president refuses to hold the annual election in an apparent attempt to stay in power. C.S., Poway Dear C.S., 5% of the members may under Corporations Code 7511(c) send a written petition demanding a membership meeting. However, most likely the board will ignore it. I have seen members announce their own membership meeting, but this is a bad idea because it is too easy to make an error in the very technical election procedures required by Civil Code 5100-5135. A better option may be to file a court petition under Corporations Code 7510(c) for an order compelling an election. This involves legal expense, and is a last resort, but judges are normally sympathetic to these petitions and are willing to order an election. Before going to all the effort and expense of filing a court petition, make sure you have member support (and a few candidates). Best regards, Kelly Dear Kelly, Our association did not make quorum, so our election was postponed a month. Each homeowner gets 1 vote, but there were couples at this meeting so some homeowners got 2 votes. Some homeowners returned a handful of ballots they had collected. I was told each homeowner must mail or bring their ballot in themselves. Is this legal? D.P., Aliso Viejo Dear D.P., Civil Code 5115(a)(2) says that ballots may be mailed or delivered by hand to a location specified by the inspector of elections but does not specify who does that. Election rules could avoid a...
Boards Barking About Dogs

Boards Barking About Dogs

Dear Mr. Richardson, Our CC&R’s limit the number of pets a homeowner can have to a “reasonable” number. City law states a resident outside of an HOA can have up to 4 dogs. Our association manager insists we have to abide by city law. Is that right? Thanks, F.D., San Pedro Dear F.D., Per Civil Code Section 4205, governing documents cannot conflict with state law. Unless your city in its ordinance exempts HOA residents, your association must, like any homeowner in that city, follow the law. The association could adopt a stricter standard, but it cannot be less strict than the city, as the public law sets the floor below which associations may not go. Also, it is the city’s job to enforce ordinances, so the board might not have to become involved (except for a call to the animal control department). Most homeowners do not research city ordinances, so if a pet limitation is important to your community, it is better to state it clearly in the governing documents. Pet limits are probably best placed in CC&Rs, so they are more permanent and cannot be changed from one board to the next. Thanks, Kelly Dear Kelly, Several residents used to take our dogs to an enclosed common area to play. The area was not designated for any specific purpose. One day the HOA president announced that dogs would no longer be allowed in that area. The board then invited residents with grandchildren to take advantage of that common area for play. Wouldn’t each resident who takes their dog to the area be covered through each individual homeowners insurance? D.S.,...
Ramped Up Assessments, Where To Pay

Ramped Up Assessments, Where To Pay

Mr. Richardson, This year our HOA dues increased 20%. The reason given was plumbing issues due to sewage backups. When I asked about just having a special assessment to cover the plumbing issues, I was told a special assessment would require a vote by association members. What can homeowners do to prevent this from continuing? J.L, Newport Beach Dear J.L., Most CC&R’s or bylaws limit increases in regular assessments by boards to no more than 20% per year. Per Civil Code 5605(b), governing documents cannot impose any smaller assessment limits to board power. Some boards, discouraged by lack of participation, address major expenditures by using the maximum increase in assessments for a few years, eliminating the need for a special assessment. While expedient, this does create a few issues. Since members are not voting on it, boards often skip the critical step of having “town hall” meetings and newsletter bulletins to inform the members the reasons for the expenditure. Also, once the need for the increase ends, will the board remember to reduce the assessment amount? Members really should be more involved in their associations, and it is discouraging for a board to try to have to avoid member votes simply because the members won’t vote. Thanks, Kelly Hello Kelly, Recently, I signed up for e-statements, by which my monthly statement is available online. I asked my HOA if I could still receive my monthly assessments through mail as well as being signed up for e-statements. Their reply to me was that I could only chose one way or the other. Is this allowed? J.K., Irvine Dear J.K., The Civil Code...