Disregard Dissenter, Rapid Fire Round

Dear Sir, I have some very important questions and I totally trust your input after reading your column now for quite a while. Our association board consists of 3 people. Two of them are totally against the other board member who has some great ideas but they always say “NO” to him, what can he do about that? I go to each and every meeting and they both laugh and say sorry you’re outnumbered. He has been threatened by them to be removed because he speaks up and they don’t want to hear it. As for the management company they take the two board members side because they don’t like his complaints so they side with the two. I want to know what I can do, and those two WILL NOT adhere to the rules. Also can’t they be removed for not following the rules?  Thank you, R.T., Murrieta R.T., You describe a dysfunctional board. Unless the directors treat each other with respect, board service will be torture. Nobody has nothing to offer – even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? However, sometimes directors are ostracized from the other directors because of their conduct. A manager should not “take sides”, but should give good advice and then follow board instructions — which means following the majority vote. As to the threat of removal, normally directors are removed only by membership vote. A board is a team, and you are all neighbors. Mutual respect and civility must be a priority in association meetings. If your board refuses to conduct themselves with courtesy and decorum in meetings, or...
Are These Rules or Just Traditions?

Are These Rules or Just Traditions?

Many Associations have policies regulating activities on a variety of topics, from water damage repair responsibility to pool use. But is it a “rule” recognized by the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act? If not, it is just a tradition, and not a legally binding rule, regardless of what your HOA calls it. Is it a rule? Per Civil Code 1357.110, a rule must be: Written; Within the authority of the board; Not inconsistent with the law or the other governing documents; Adopted in substantial compliance with the required process, except for pre-2004 rules; and Reasonable The process It may require 2 or even 3 board meetings to make a rule change. First, the idea of the change has to be converted into drafted language. The board in an open meeting discusses what should be the exact language of the rule. This may take more than one meeting if the rule is complicated or lengthy. Remember, it cannot be discussed via e-mail or otherwise outside of the board meeting. Once the board approves the proposed rule change, it must be sent verbatim to the members, explaining why the change is proposed and announcing a board meeting at least 30 days later when it will be voted upon. (See 1357.130) The board meeting to vote on the rule change must include a members open forum opportunity to comment upon it. If the rule change is adopted as it was published to the members, a written announcement must be made to the membership no later than 15 days later. However, if the proposed rule change is modified, the process should start over...
Too Helpful Manager, A Dangerous Director

Too Helpful Manager, A Dangerous Director

Dear Mr. Richardson, I am a director of a large HOA. In our most recent board meeting the following came up in discussion: Our manager is calling homeowners and asking they vote for the incumbents. Is this ethical? Doesn’t the manager represent us all and not just a few? This does seem biased. Some of our board members have access to homeowner phone numbers and are calling residents asking them to vote for incumbents. When the other candidates asked for the same privilege at a recent board meeting, our manager informed them they were not privy to the phone numbers because they were not board members. Is this fair? KF, Santa Ana Dear KF, Managers should have no role in campaigning or helping any candidate. A manager (and the HOA attorney also) must remain completely neutral. HOA professionals usually have opinions on who would be a good director and who would not, but it is critical that we keep our opinions to ourselves. To do otherwise, and to campaign for a specific director (even if we think that person would be a fantastic director) is a breach of our ethical and fiduciary responsibilities. Board members have under the Corporations Code unlimited access to HOA records, but that is when they use the information for corporate purposes. If they are using the information for their own personal gain, that is an abuse of their position and a conflict of interest. All candidates should have the same access to the membership. Thanks for your question, and hope things clean up at your association soon. Kelly Dear Kelly, We currently have directors who...

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...