New Laws for California Community Associations

*This post originally appeared as an article on our page at RODLLP.com

The 2021 legislative session was one of the most active legislative years impacting California community association law. Pressures of the California affordable housing crisis continue to seep into several laws aimed at increasing housing density availability and rental properties.

All in all, California’s community associations fared well with several pieces of legislation clarifying omissions and ambiguities in prior laws. New laws passed will also facilitate more efficient community association governance for board members conducting meetings and elections. The following legislative summary provides an overview of new laws that significantly impact community associations. All new laws take effect January 1, 2022 unless otherwise noted.

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So, what does the “Inspector of Elections” do, anyway?

The role of the inspector of elections can be a confusing mystery to members asked to serve in that role and to managers who may not really know what the job involves.

The role of the inspector of elections can be a confusing mystery to members asked to serve in that role and to managers who may not really know what the job involves. Too often the inspector of elections is not appointed before the election process starts, and owners are frequently asked to serve in the role to open and count ballots at the time of the meeting set for that purpose. However, the inspector of elections has a far broader role than just opening and counting ballots, and with the enactment of Senate Bill 323, management or anyone under contract to the association can no longer act as the inspector of elections. Therefore, it is more likely that members will be asked to serve in this role and more important than ever that managers, board members, and homeowners understand what the role and duties of the inspector of elections are in community association elections.

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Responding to an Accommodation Request? What’s your Policy?

Responding to an accommodation request does not have to be scary. Adopting a policy for an association to follow goes a long way to successfully addressing accommodation requests properly. But there are several stages where boards and managers can get tripped up in the process.

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of the Orange County Chapter of CAI’s OC View Magazine.

With all the various moving parts that go into managing a community association, few issues cause more confusion or are as fraught with risk as dealing with a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification. Failing to respond timely, or denying a request when it is appropriate exposes the association to potential liability for violating fair housing laws. Granting one without getting sufficient information to determine if it is warranted exposes the association to potentially unnecessary expenses and potential breach of fiduciary duty claims. Asking for additional information to support the request might be a no-no. That is why having a good, clear, concise policy in place to guide a board of directors as to how to address such requests can go a long way to help navigate the potential landmines that responding to a request for a reasonable accommodation involves.

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California Drought restrictions Officially Lifted

California Governor Jerry Brown Officially declared an end to the drought and rescinded two drought-related executive orders from 2014, including the one that declared a drought state of emergency, excepting four counties in Central California. The Governor’s action today reinstates the ability for California community associations to impose fines or otherwise enforce their governing documents related to an owner’s decision to not water grass or other vegetation.

Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects will continue to help address diminished groundwater supplies. Today’s order also rescinds two emergency proclamations from January and April 2014 and four droughtrelated executive orders issued in 2014 and 2015.

In a related action, state agencies today issued a plan to continue to make conservation a way of life in California, as directed by Governor Brown in May 2016. The framework requires new legislation to establish long-term water conservation measures and improved planning for more frequent and severe droughts. Permanent restrictions shall prohibit wasteful practices such as:
• Hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes;
• Washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off
nozzle;
• Using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative
water feature;
• Watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48
hours after measurable precipitation; and
• Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.

Who’s the Boss? The National Labor Relations Board’s new standard for determining joint employment may make community associations and management companies responsible for contractors’ pay, benefits and legal liability. Review your agreements with business partners now.

By Robert M. DeNichilo, Esq., and Greg Coulter, Esq.

Reprinted with permission from CAI’s Common Ground TM magazine, September/October 2016

whos_the_boss_250_250A BOARD MEMBER OR MANAGER tells a landscape company’s employee that he or she can only work during certain hours on particular days of the week or directs the employee to plant flowers in a specific way or location. Or, if a board believes the association isn’t receiving the level of service it expects, it may try to require its management company to fire a manager or replace him or her on the account. These situations aren’t all that uncommon.

Since the association is contracting for these services, the board (and maybe its manager) probably believes the contractor—and not the association—employs those individuals. However, under certain circumstances, the association could be found to be a “joint employer” of a contractor’s employees, which means a lot more fiscal responsibility and legal liability.

In a 2015 case known as Browning-Ferris Industries of California (# 32-RC-109684), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned a long series of cases in the collective bargaining arena. With the decision, the circumstances expanded under which an entity that contracts for services can be found to be a joint employer. The decision could have far-reaching implications for both community associations and management companies, making them responsible for the employees of landscapers, painters, managers and others who provide services to an association.

Continue reading “Who’s the Boss? The National Labor Relations Board’s new standard for determining joint employment may make community associations and management companies responsible for contractors’ pay, benefits and legal liability. Review your agreements with business partners now.”