New 2015 HOA Laws – Open Meetings

July 1, 2015

By Curtis G. Kimble.

Continuing our summary of the new laws affecting HOAs in 2015, effective July 1, 2015, both the Utah Condominium Ownership Act and the Utah Community Association Act require board meetings to be open to each homeowner (or homeowner’s designated representative).

Open Meetings; Exception.

Utah Code 57-8-57 (for condos) and 57-8a-226 (for non-condo HOAs) require open board meetings, with the exception that executive sessions may be closed to the owners for the following purposes: to consult with an attorney or to discuss ongoing litigation, personnel matters, contract negotiations, delinquencies, and matters involving an individual if privacy is required.

Comment Period at Meetings.

Additionally, at each board meeting, the board must provide each owner a reasonable opportunity to offer comments, but the board may limit the comments to one specific time period during the meeting and may limit the time allotted to each owner to comment.

Notice of Meetings.

If an owner has requested notice of a board meeting, the association must give written notice of a board meeting at least 48 hours before a meeting to the owner who requested it, unless notice of the meeting is included in a meeting schedule that was previously provided to that owner, or the meeting is to address an emergency and each board member receives notice of the meeting less than 48 hours before the meeting.

The notice to the owner must (i) be delivered to the owner by email, to the email address that the owner provides to the board or the association; (ii) state the time and date of the meeting; (iii) state the location of the meeting; and (iv) if a board member may participate by means of electronic communication, provide the information necessary to allow the owner to participate by the available means of electronic communication.

Exactly what constitutes a board meeting?

A board “meeting” means “a gathering of a board, whether in person or by means of electronic communication, at which the board can take binding action.”  (Utah Code 57-8a-102(16), 57-8-3(27)).  “Means of electronic communication” means an electronic system that allows individuals to communicate orally in real time, including web conferencing, video conferencing, and telephone conferencing (Utah Code 57-8a-102(15), 57-8-3(26)).

Action/decisions without a Meeting.

A meeting requires a gathering of the board in a way that they are communicating live and in real time.  It does not include actions or decisions taken without a meeting, as is commonly done by boards (most commonly through email).  However, specific requirements must be followed by a board in taking an action or making a decision without a meeting.  These requirements are spelled out (for associations that are nonprofit corporations) in Utah Code Section 16-6a-813, which, significantly, was also changed this year.

Under the prior law, a board could make decisions or take an action without a meeting if each member of the board either: (1) voted for the action, or (2) waived the right to demand that the decision/action be made or taken at a meeting and either voted against the action or abstained from voting.  Now, unanimous consent of the members of the board is needed for the action or decision being made or taken without a meeting, unless an association’s bylaws specifically provide that an action or decision may be taken without a meeting without the board unanimously consenting to the action or decision being made.

If the bylaws do authorize it, the statute sets out the required procedure for a board to make a decision or take an action without a meeting without the board unanimously consenting to the action or decision being made (regardless of any contrary procedure in your bylaws).  The statute requires notice to be sent to each member of the board containing certain items listed in the statute.   Then each member of the board has to either (1) sign a writing in favor of the action/decision, or (2) sign a writing against the action/decision, abstain in writing from voting, or fail to respond or vote or demand in writing that the action or decision be made at a meeting.  All of these “writings” and communications can be delivered electronically (e.g., as an email), in which case, the date on which such an electronic transmission is transmitted is considered the date on which the vote, abstention, demand, or revocation is signed.

Declarant/developer Controlled Associations.

The open meetings laws do not apply to associations that are still under “declarant” (developer) control (where the declarant appoints the board).

Penalty.

The law stipulates certain penalties and procedures if an association does not comply.  Essentially, an owner can make demand for compliance on the association stating which requirements the association has failed to comply with.  Then, if 90 days elapses without compliance after a proper demand, the owner may file an action in court for a court order requiring the association to comply and to pay a $500 penalty.  The court may also require that the prevailing party be reimbursed its costs and attorney fees by the non-prevailing party.

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2015 Condo and HOA Laws – Fines

June 22, 2015

By Curtis G. Kimble.

This year was another busy year at the Utah legislature for the HOA world.  Many changes and additions were made to the statutes that govern condominiums, community associations and nonprofit corporations.  As always, refer to the UtahHOALaws app on your iOS device or Android device, or on the web at utahhoalaws.com for the current HOA statutes.

The most significant changes that affect HOAs are laws that:

  • Change how fines must be levied and collected,
  • Require board meetings to be open to the association membership,
  • Change what rental restrictions may be adopted by an association after May 12, 2015,
  • Set forth requirements and procedures for record keeping and making records available to members.

Fines.  

Utah Code 57-8a-208 for community associations (non-condo HOAs), and Utah Code 57-8-37 for condos, provides certain requirements for levying fines.  These laws went into effect May 12, 2015.

Before assessing a fine, the board must give the owner a written warning that:

  1. describes the violation;
  2. states the rule or provision of the association’s governing documents that the owner’s conduct violates;
  3. states that the board may assess fines against the owner if a continuing violation is not cured or if the owner commits similar violations within one year; and
  4. if the violation is a continuing violation, states a time that is not less than 48 hours after the day on which the board gives the owner the written warning by which the lot owner must cure the violation.

Then, a board may assess a fine if:

  1. within one year after the board gives written warning, the owner commits another violation of the same rule or provision identified in the written warning; or
  2. for a continuing violation, the owner does not cure the violation within the time period that is stated in the written warning.

Subsequent fines.  If permitted by the association’s governing documents, after the board assesses a fine against an owner, the board may, without further warning, assess an additional fine against the owner each time the owner:

  1. commits a violation of the same rule or provision within one year after the day on which the board assesses a fine for a violation of the same rule or provision; or
  2. allows a violation to continue for 10 days or longer after the day on which the board assesses the fine (thus, there must be a 10-day period between fines for continuous violations).

Note, as indicated for “subsequent fines,” it is important to have a schedule of fines or fining policy in place in the governing documents (if not in the CC&Rs, then in the rules or separate policy) that allows for levying more than one fine for the same violation without having to repeatedly provide notice first.  Contact us for help with that, if needed.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the new laws on open meetings and rentals.


New 2014 Utah HOA Laws

May 16, 2014

By Curtis G. Kimble.

A few new HOA laws went into effect earlier this week on May 13.  They are not too substantial and shouldn’t significantly alter your way of doing business, but they’re important to know about and comply with.

1.    S.B. 147 deals with rental restrictions.

This bill amended Utah Code Section 57-8-10 and enacted 57-8-10.1 in the Condo Act, and amended 57-8a-209 in the Community Association Act.  It prohibits an association from requiring a homeowner to:

A.  obtain the association’s approval of a prospective renter; or

B.  give the association:
(i) a copy of a rental application;
(ii) a copy of a renter’s or prospective renter’s credit information or credit report;
(iii) a copy of a renter’s or prospective renter’s background check; or
(iv) documentation to verify the renter’s age.

There is an exception if the association’s CC&Rs “prohibits or restricts occupancy of the lots by a certain class of individuals, the association may require a lot owner who owns a rental lot to give the association” those items in B above.  So, for instance, a 55 and older community could require a homeowner to give the association documentation to verify that at least one occupant is 55 or older.

2.    H.B. 26 deals with fines.

This bill amended Utah Code Sections 57-8a-208 and 57-8a-301 in the Community Association Act, and made a minor change in 57-8-37 and 57-8-44 in the Condo Act.

Appealing a Fine.  In the Community Association Act, it limits how and when an owner can appeal a fine that’s levied against the owner.  An owner has 30 days to request a hearing after a fine is levied, and then the owner has up to 6 months to appeal the fine by bringing a court action to challenge the fine.

When the Fine Becomes a Lien.  It further requires that a fine does not become a lien against a lot until, basically, seven months after the fine is levied (because the owner has 30 days to request a hearing before the board and then 180 days after that to bring a court action).   If, after that time, the owner has not sued to challenge the fine in court, the fine becomes a lien against the owner’s lot (if the owner has sued within that time, the fine does not become a lien until the court action is over).    Previously, the owner only had 14 days to request a hearing, an unpaid fine became a lien just like assessments (no 6-7 month waiting period), and the owner was not limited in the time they had to file a lawsuit to challenge the fine.

Condos.  There is nothing much new for condos.  The Condo Act already required that a fine does not become a lien against a unit until, basically, seven months after the fine is levied (because the owner has 30 days to request a hearing before the board and then 180 days after that to bring a court action) and limited an owner to a 6 month period to challenge the fine in court, but it’s now clear that if the owner has sued within that time, the fine does not become a lien until the court action is over.

3.    H.B. 350 deals with removal of board members.

This bill amended Utah Code Section 16-6a-808 in the Nonprofit Corporation Act.  This section provides the requirements to remove a board member (director) from office.  The old section was problematic because (a) it didn’t defer to the association’s bylaws if the bylaws provided a different method for removing a director (the Nonprofit Act should let associations decide for themselves how they want certain things handled and should simply be a default when an association’s bylaws are silent on an issue), and (b) it led to a great deal of confusion because it was not clear how many votes were necessary to remove a director when directors were elected by a plurality vote (where the candidates receiving the most votes win).  Most homeowner associations use plurality voting for electing directors.

The new law states that “unless otherwise provided in the bylaws,” a director may be removed by the vote of a majority of the members entitled to vote.  So, the provisions in your bylaws will govern and apply first and foremost, but if your bylaws are silent, more than 50% of the members have to vote to remove a director in order for that director to be removed from office.

The Utah HOA Law App has been updated with all the new laws and will automatically update on your iphone or Android device when you open the app.  iPad app users will have to update the app itself, which should be available in the App Store in the next week or two.


Did the Vote Pass? What Various Voting Requirements Mean

August 27, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

You and the rest of the board have worked hard to communicate the importance of a renovation project to the members and a special assessment is desperately needed to fund the project.  But, the approval of the members is needed to pass the special assessment.  You know your CC&Rs require a majority of members to vote yes to approve a special assessment.  But, you’re not sure if it’s a majority of all of the members, or a majority of those that actually vote, or of those that show up at the meeting.

The language in CC&Rs and bylaws specifying how many votes are needed to pass a proposed action by the members, such as a special assessment or amendment to the CC&Rs, can be difficult for even experienced homeowner association professionals to understand.  CC&Rs usually require that at least one of the following three thresholds be met for a vote to pass: (1) a percentage of the total outstanding voting rights of the association, (2) a percentage of those votes that are actually cast at a meeting, or (3) a percentage of those members present at a meeting.  Here are examples of what those provisions may look like in CC&Rs.  See if you know what they mean.

1.  “This declaration may be amended if members holding at least two-thirds of the total votes of the Association approve the amendment.”

This one should be easy.  But, it can be easy to forget that this is requiring two-thirds of the total votes of the association, and not just two-thirds of the members that show up at a meeting.  So, if an HOA has 100 members with one vote each and a meeting is held to vote on a proposed amendment to the CC&Rs where 50 members attend, how many votes are needed for the amendment to pass?  If you said 67, you’re right (if you said “more than they’ll be able to get at that meeting, you’re also right).

How about the same example as above, except in a condominium association where half the members have a .75% undivided ownership interest in the common area, and the other half have 1.25%?  How many members need to vote yes for the amendment to pass?  If you said it doesn’t matter how many members vote yes, what matters is whether two-thirds of the total voting rights of the association vote yes, then you’re correct.

In a condominium, the law requires voting rights of a member to be directly tied to the undivided ownership interest of the member (Utah Code Section 57-8-24).  This means that if a member has a .75% undivided interest in the common area, that member has a .75% vote in any matter put before the association membership.  In this situation, the association needs the yes votes to add up to 66.66…% of the total voting power of the association for the vote to pass.

2.  “A special assessment shall require the approval of a majority of the members voting in person or by proxy.”

Taking the example above where the HOA has 100 members with one vote each and a meeting is held to vote on a proposed special assessment where 50 members are represented (39 in person and 11 by proxy), how many votes are needed for the special assessment to pass?  If you said “Well Curtis, we can’t tell until you tell us how many members actually voted,” then you’d be correct.  This provision requires approval from a majority of the members that actually cast a vote.  If 45 votes are actually cast, how many votes are needed to pass the assessment?  23 (more than half of the 45 votes cast).

What about this same situation but in the condominium association mentioned above where the members have percentage interests that aren’t equal?  Do you need a majority of the percentage-votes that are cast, or a majority of the actual members that cast a vote?  You need a majority of the percentage-votes that are cast, regardless of how many actual people (members) vote.  Remember, by law, membership voting rights shall be available to the unit owners according to their respective percentage interests (regardless of what the CC&Rs say).

3.  “A special assessment shall require the approval of a majority of the members represented in person or by proxy.”   

Did you spot the difference between this and number 2?  This one requires approval of a majority of the members represented at the meeting, rather than a majority of just those that actually cast a vote.  So, in the example above with 100 members where 50 members are represented at a meeting (39 in person and 11 by proxy) and 45 votes are actually cast, how many yes votes are needed?  If you said 26, you’re correct (a majority, or more than half, of 50).

If the voting language in your CC&Rs or bylaws isn’t clear, be sure the board contacts the association attorney for clarification before the association relies on a misunderstood requirement.


HOA Neighborhood Watch Liability After Trayvon Martin

August 6, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

Since the Trayvon Martin death in Florida, neighborhood watch groups in HOAs have become a hot button issue.  The neighborhood watch group that George Zimmerman, the man that was carrying a gun and shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, was a part of was overseen by the homeowners association.  That HOA was sued by Trayvon’s family for wrongful death and other claims and ended up settling for an undisclosed amount of money that is thought to be over $1,000,000.

When something like the Trayvon Martin death occurs, claims are filed against anybody who could possibly have any culpability, which will include the HOA when the issue even remotely involves or implicates the HOA.  So, what’s an HOA to do?   Should your condominium or HOA establish, or continue, a neighborhood watch?  What are the risks and how do you mitigate them?  HOA insurance specialist Béat Koszinowski answers these questions in his recent article here: Neighborhood Watch Groups in Your HOA.

The single biggest factor as to whether a watch group will create more issues and liability for an HOA isn’t whether the neighborhood watch volunteer carries a gun or other weapon, because if it gets to the point where a weapon could be used, the HOA will likely be sued either way.  For instance, if the volunteer ends up being beaten to death and was not allowed to carry a weapon by the HOA, the HOA will likely be sued by the family of the volunteer (whether rightfully or not).  Instead, it’s when volunteers go beyond simply reporting suspicious activity and instead take law enforcement into their own hands that the issues and liability open up like floodgates.  As Béat points out, “watch groups can do more harm than good when group volunteers go beyond contacting the local police department and act as the HOA’s own law enforcement.  Watch groups that engage perpetrators, use physical force or carry weapons put your HOA at risk for a lawsuit.”

Béat also points out, and I agree, that, ideally, to reduce liability, a neighborhood watch program should have no official connection to the HOA and the board should have no involvement in the creation or regulation of the watch group.  But if your HOA decides to start a watch group, it’s imperative that the HOA:

  1. establish specific written guidelines and policy for the group stating what the volunteer should and should not do, what the volunteer’s duties are exactly, and a procedure when suspicious activity is encountered,
  2. contact the local police department to receive watch group training, and
  3. check that its insurance covers the watch group.

While neighborhood watch groups can serve an important and effective purpose, they can also create more issues and liability.  An HOA board should contact its association insurance professional and attorney and follow certain risk mitigation steps if it operates, or plans to institute, a neighborhood watch group.


8 Points of HOA Governance 101

April 24, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

HOA governance isn’t simple or easy and, unfortunately, board members are just volunteers doing their best with too little time and too little money.  I think that’s why even basic principles of HOA governance are often misunderstood by board members (and managers too).  Here is some clarification of 8 frequently misunderstood issues:

1.  Officers and directors are not the same thing.  One of the most fundamental concepts of corporate governance is that directors and officers have entirely separate functions and positions.  Directors are the representatives of the members, elected by the members.  The primary, if not the sole, function of a director is to vote on the decisions before the board.  The directors make up the board, which has the authority to act for the association.

Officers are not (normally) elected by the members, they are elected or appointed by the board.  Usually, the officers are also directors, although there’s no law requiring that they be (but a lot of bylaws require it).  Officers only have the authority or power given to them specifically and expressly, by the bylaws or by the board.  Removing an officer is generally easy, the board is usually authorized to remove an officer, with or without cause.  But if a person is both an officer and a director, removing them as an officer doesn’t remove them as a director.  Removing a director may generally only be done with a vote of the members.

2.  Quorum.  What is a quorum?  Is it important?  A quorum is the minimum number of members that have to be represented at a member meeting in order to have the meeting (or the minimum number of board members that have to be present at a board meeting to have a board meeting).  That magic number will be stated in your bylaws or CC&Rs.  It may be an unreasonably high number (like 50% to 75% of all owners) or it may be a realistic number, but either way it’s required.  If it’s unreasonably high, change it, amend the bylaws, but don’t ignore it.  One of the first things to occur at any meeting should be the determination of a quorum.

3.  The documents that apply.  If your association has CC&Rs (a declaration), bylaws and articles of incorporation, do those documents have to be followed?  If so, how closely do they need to be followed?  The answers are absolutely and to the word.  I’m sure it will come as a surprise to the conscientious readers of this blog, but some boards . . .  how shall I put this . . . don’t appreciate the weight that should be given to what the governing documents say.  They tend to think you are able to pick and choose what you adhere to, or that if they simply aren’t aware of what’s in the documents, then there’s no need to comply with them.  Virtually nothing that is contained in governing documents is optional.  They must be adhered to strictly and literally.

4.  The laws that apply.  There are basically two types of HOAs in Utah – condominium HOAs (or condominium associations) and non-condo HOAs (also called PUDs or community associations).  It’s very important that you know which one you are in (consult your attorney if you don’t).

Condominiums:  The Condominium Ownership Act applies to all condominiums in Utah.

Noncondo HOAs (PUDs or community associations):  The Community Association Act applies to residential non-condo HOAs in Utah (and to mixed-use commercial/residential non-condo projects as of May 14, 2013).

Both:  The Utah Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act also applies to all associations that are incorporated as nonprofit corporations, as most are.

5.  Hierarchy of laws and documents.  If your CC&Rs and bylaws contradict each other, they aren’t simply ignored or tossed out as invalid.  There is a specific heirarchy that generally applies when documents or the law contradict each other.  When a lower document contradicts a higher document, the provision in the higher document is the valid and effective provision and the one in the lower document is ignored (until the documents are amended, which is hopefully promptly after the contradiction is found), unless the higher document is a law that specifically defers to a lower document.

In a condominium, the law states that the following order prevails:

(a) the Condo Act,
(b) the Nonprofit Corporation Act,
(c) articles of incorporation,
(d) declaration (CC&Rs),
(e) bylaws,
(f) rules.

In a non-condo HOA, the order is not set by statute or case law, but the following order should prevail:

(a) the Community Association Act,
(b) the Nonprofit Corporation Act,
(c) declaration (CC&Rs),
(d) articles of incorporation,
(e) bylaws,
(f) rules

6.  Voting Thresholds.  Too often, the subtle distinction between different voting approval thresholds are ignored.  For instance, is there a difference between these two requirements:   “a special assessment shall require the approval of a majority of the members voting in person or by proxy”  and “a special assessment shall require the approval of a majority of the members represented at a meeting in person or by proxy”?

The difference is that the first one requires approval of a majority of those members that actually cast a vote.  The second requires the approval of a majority of the members that show up at the meeting or who are represented by proxy.  So, if 90 members show up to a meeting personally, 10 have given proxies, a vote for a special assessment is held and 94 votes are cast, the number of votes needed for approval under the first requirement above is 48 (a majority of 94).  The number of votes needed for approval under the second requirement is 51 (a majority of 100).

Also remember that, in a condominium, the law requires that voting rights of each owner be directly tied to each owner’s undivided interest in the common area .  This means that if a member has a .837 percent undivided interest in the common area, that member has a .837 vote in any matter put before the association membership (elections, etc.).

7.  A board meeting is not an association meeting or member meeting.  Board meetings (usually held monthly or quarterly) are just that, meetings of the board.  While it is recommended that board meetings be open to the members and the members be allowed to speak during a specified comment period, they are not meetings of the association or member meetings. Typically, the only association meeting or member meeting is the annual meeting held once a year.

8.  HOA Registry.  Finally, remember that the law requires each association to update their information with the Utah HOA Registry within 90 days of any change in that information (e.g., after a board election where a new board member was elected, or after changing managers).  It wasn’t just a one-time requirement and it’s  not an annual renewal.  It must be updated after any change and all information required by the law for condos and the law for non-condos must be included.

This may be new information for some, but hopefully, it just serves as a helpful refresher for others.  In many HOA issues, the devil is in the details and attention to those details will help ensure proper and lawful operation and governance of your association.


Bills That Passed This Legislative Session and How to Comply

March 26, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

The 2013 Utah General Legislative Session has ended and the bills that passed have been finalized in their enrolled form to await signature by the Governor. Which bills passed and which ones didn’t?

Only three of the six bills I discussed in my last post ended up passing the House and the Senate.  They all affect condo and non-condo HOAs in more or less the same way.

SB 64 Homeowner Association Reserve Account Amendments

As I noted before, this law will give the decision back to the board of whether and how to fund a reserve (as most CC&Rs require, and where the decision makers will be subject to fiduciary duties).  Specifically, the law:

  • Specifies that a reserve analysis must include certain things, such as a list of the maintenance items that will require reserve funds,  their remaining useful life, and their cost to repair or replace; an estimate of the contribution to a reserve fund necessary to meet the cost to repair or replace each component; and a reserve funding plan that recommends how the association may fund the annual contribution.
  • Requires an association to provide a summary each year of the reserve analysis to each owner (not just to those at the annual meeting) and a complete copy of the reserve analysis, including any updates, to an owner upon request.
  • Requires the board to include a reserve fund line item in the annual budget in the amount the board determines based on the reserve analysis and based on what “the board determines is prudent under the circumstances” (there is no requirement that the amount be higher than 1$ or even 0$ – not that I recommend that).  This is important because it is almost inevitable that the association will not agree with the amounts recommended by a professional reserve study.  Almost every association feels that their reserve professional has recommended that they set aside more than they really need.  This law allows flexibility so the board can fund reserves in the amount they deem is prudent with all things considered.   However, if the CC&Rs requires a certain level of reserve funding, the CC&Rs will control; this law does not authorize a board to fund reserves lower than what their governing documents might require.
  • Allows the homeowners to veto the reserve fund contribution if they don’t like it (whether too low or too high) by a 51% vote of the owners at a special meeting called within 45 days of when the annual budget is adopted.

Additionally, the law provides for specific enforcement procedures if the association fails to comply with certain of its provisions.  An owner can sue for a court order compelling the association to comply, for $500 or the owner’s actual damages, whichever is greater, other available remedies, and costs and attorney fees.

HB 101 Homeowners Association Amendments

This revision to the statute requiring all HOAs to register as an HOA with the state of Utah merely restates what it said before in a little different way. There is no change in the law’s requirements or implications.

SB 90 Condominium and Community Association Amendments

  • With this new law, an association cannot charge a fee for review and approval of plans for construction or improvement of a unit or lot that exceeds the actual cost of reviewing and approving the plans.
  • The law clarifies what happens when there’s a loss to a unit that initially doesn’t look like it will exceed the association’s deductible but then the loss ends up costing more than the amount of the deductible.  The law says that if the board determines that a covered loss is likely not to exceed the deductible, and until it becomes apparent the loss exceeds the deductible and a claim is submitted to the association’s insurer, the unit owner’s policy is the primary policy for coverage.  So, the unit owner’s policy is primary, but only until it becomes clear that the damage will cost more to repair than the deductible.
  • For commercial condominium projects ( projects with no residential units), the insurance requirements of Utah Code 57-8-43 no longer apply for insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2013.  For mixed-use projects (projects with both commercial and residential units), a commercial unit, including any fixture, improvement or betterment therein and including appurtenant limited common area, does not have to be insured by the association, unless the CC&Rs require it.
  • The Community Association Act is now applicable to any association with at least one residential lot (not just associations made up entirely of residential lots).  So, it will generally apply to mixed-use (commercial/residential) projects (except the insurance provisions were amended to not be applicable to commercial lots, the same as with condominium projects).

The following changes will not take effect until July 1, 2014:

  • The law will now authorize not only condos, but non-condo HOAs as well to access a unit or lot as necessary for maintenance, repair or replacement of common areas or for making an emergency repair, provided that 24 hours’ notice is given, or reasonable notice is given (or attempted) in an emergency.  The association is liable to repair damage it causes to the common areas or to a lot or unit the association uses to access common areas, and it must repair that damage within a reasonable time, except in developer-controlled community associations (where many of the laws in the Community Association Act don’t apply, thanks to legislators favoring developers much more than homeowners (contact your legislator and let them know favoring developers over homeowners isn’t acceptable!)).
  • The law authorizes a unit or lot owner to remove or alter a wall between two units or lots if the owner owns both units/lots, even if the wall is common area, unless restricted by the CC&Rs (most condo CC&Rs do, in fact, restrict this) and unless it would impair the structural integrity, mechanical systems or support of the building, the common areas, or a unit/lot.  The board may require the owner to submit, at the owner’s expense, an engineer’s or architect’s opinion stating that a proposed change will not impair the structural integrity or mechanical systems of the building or either lot, reduce the support or integrity of common areas, or compromise structural components.  The board may require the owner to pay all of the association’s legal and other expenses related to the proposed alteration, as well.  The removal or alteration of the wall does not change the assessment or voting right attributable to either of the units/lots (unless the CC&Rs say so).
  • The law also contains a procedure for the unlikely event that two or more associations want to consolidate or merge together into one association.

While these bills are not actually law until signed by the Governor, there is little chance that the Governor will veto any of them (I will, of course, let you know if he does).   (UPDATE: Each of these bills were signed by the Governor and are now law.)   The laws take effect May 14, 2013, except the ones mentioned above that don’t take effect until July 1, 2014.

As always, please note that none of the above is legal advice and should not be relied on as statements of the requirements of the law applicable to any particular scenario or circumstance.  The statutes themselves should be referred to for their exact and full contents and an attorney consulted with for application of any relevant law to a particular set of facts.


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