Just wanted to let you know: a new Senate Bill that requires homeowners to inspect the standards of a building’s porches, stairways, decks, walkways, & other elevated structures more than 6 feet above the ground.
Senate Bill-721 applies to buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units.
The first inspection must be done by January 1, 2025. Re-inspections are required every six years.
The inspections must be performed only by a licensed architect, civil or structural engineer, or a building contractor holding specific licenses as a B General Contractor or C5 Framing.
AB 1572. Potable Water. This bill would prohibit the use of potable water for the irrigation of nonfunctional turf located on homeowners’ associations and common interest developments. Associations will be required to comply beginning January 1, 2029
AB 1764. Elections. This bill would require associations to disqualify a nominee for the Board of Directors if that person has served the maximum number of terms or sequential terms allowed by the association. It also requires the association to disqualify a director who ceases to be a member of the association from continuing to serve as a director. If an association disqualifies a nominee for the Board of Directors pursuant to Civil Code Section 5105, an association in its election rules shall also require a director to comply with the same requirements. [Chaptered]
SB-428 – Harassment. Beginning January 1, 2025, homeowner associations can seek a restraining order to protect employees, including volunteer directors, managers, and vendors, from harassment in addition to unlawful violence and threats of violence. [Chaptered.]
California Civil Code 5550 requires a Reserve Study based on a “diligent visual site inspection” at least every third year, but requires the Board review that Reserve Study annually and “consider and implement necessary adjustments”. That’s called an annual Reserve Study update.
HOA LIABILITY FOR FAILURE TO UPHOLD MAINTENANCE OBLIGATIONS
Sands v. Walnut Gardens Condominium Ass'n (2019)
Takeaway: CC&R provisions may dictate standard of maintenance to be performed and failure to investigate and conduct maintenance issues may constitute a breach of contract by the HOA.
In Sands v. Walnut Gardens Condominium Association, the California Appellate Court held the HOA could be responsible for damages sustained by a homeowner as a result of a plumbing leak originating from a pipe on the roof of the condominium building (i.e., HOA common area). In Sands, the HOA repaired the pipe and the roof, but did not compensate the homeowners for the damages they sustained to the interior of the unit and their personal property. The homeowners sued the HOA for breach of contract and negligence.
In addressing the the breach of contract claim, the Court of Appeal noted that the HOA had a contractual obligation under the CC&Rs to maintain the common area in "a first-class condition." A jury could find that the HOA breached that contract by failing to perform preventative maintenance, and by failing to periodically inspect the pipes and roof. The Court dismissed the HOA's argument that "no evidence showed [that] the [HOA] was 'on notice that it needed to make repairs or do something to the roof or the pipes.'" Rather, it was sufficient that the HOA knew that no maintenance was being performed, which a jury could find as a breach of the CC&Rs' requirement that the common area be maintained in a first-class condition.
However, as to the second cause of action for negligence, the Court sustained the trial court's judgment of nonsuit (i.e., the homeowners failed to present sufficient evidence to conclude that the HOA was negligent). The Court noted that "the [HOA] had no independent duty as to the pipes and roof arising from tort law." In other words, absent a showing of a duty independent of the CC&Rs, an HOA cannot be held liable for the tort of negligence for its maintenance failures.
SB 323 makes substantive modifications to the Civil Code's provisions governing HOA elections, effective January 1, 2020. Some of the more significant modifications require associations to amend their election rules to conform to new statutory requirements, limit the types of candidate qualifications an association may adopt, address the only circumstance for elections by acclamation, place limitations on who may serve as an inspector of elections, and bolster the ability of members to overturn an election that is not conducted in accordance with proper procedures.
California Civil Code 4515. This is the law that protects certain rights of members and residents to political speech and peaceful assembly within California community associations.
Reasonable Restrictions on the Use of Common Area Facilities for Assembly Purposes. Association rules & regulations and facility use agreements are useful tools in balancing the requirements of the law with reasonable restrictions that protect the Association. Possible restrictions on the use of facilities for assembly purposes are as follows:
Homeowners associations (“HOAs”) are governed by a group of volunteer members known as a “Board of Directors” (“Board”). Their primary responsibilities include: (1) managing the common areas, (2) managing the HOA’s finances, (3) setting policies to assist in the operation of the HOA, and (4) enforcing those policies along with the HOA’s governing documents. The Board is therefore vital to the effective operation and management of the HOA, as well as preserving the property values of the HOA’s members....
Each Board member should employ the following procedure when observing a violation of the HOA’s governing documents: