QUESTION: My husband and I made a standing request for board minutes but management said we have to submit a new request EVERY month! This seems ridiculous.
ANSWER: I suspect a judge would agree with you. The Open Meeting Act states that minutes must be distributed to any member upon request. Civ. Code §1363.05(d). The statute does not state how often the request must be made, which means it is open to interpretation. A judge could deem the requirement for monthly requests to be an unreasonable barrier to a member’s right to minutes. If so, the court could impose a $500 fine and order the association to produce the minutes. Civ. Code §1365.2(f).
Expenses. If the board is concerned about the expense of copying and mailing minutes, they can bill you for the cost. Civ. Code §1363.05(d). To avoid those costs, the minutes could be emailed each month once you give authorization for electronic delivery. Civ. Code §1365.2(h).
Transparency. To eliminate the problem altogether, your board can and should routinely post minutes (except for executive session minutes) on your association’s website in a password protected area of the site. If your association doesn’t have a website, the board should (i) summarize its meetings in a newsletter, (ii) post minutes on common area bulletin boards and/or (iii) distribute the information each month in the billing statement.
Aide Ontiveros, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC
Requiring members to submit a monthly request makes it look like the board is hiding something. That only creates distrust. Instead, the board should create openness and transparency by keeping members timely informed about the board’s activities.
QUESTION: Would taking away the voting rights of a delinquent homeowner who has filed bankruptcy be a violation of the automatic stay? This homeowner is currently in an accepted payment plan with the HOA.
ANSWER: Your question is a little unclear. If the owner is currently in bankruptcy, you cannot suspend his voting rights. If the owner is out of bankruptcy but delinquent in his payment plan, the association can suspend his voting rights. Your board should run this by legal counsel before taking any action.
OF BOARD MEMBERS
Homeowners who volunteer to serve on their boards quickly learn they cannot please everyone. Some owners have legitimate complaints, some complain because they love to complain, and a third category turns malicious. The board of a small association in Orange County had close encounters of the third kind and fought back.
The board suffered through years of abuse from a husband and wife. When the couple focused their attention on the president with unrelenting harassment that culminated in threats and 119 harassing telephone calls in less than two months, the president sued the couple.
The trial lasted five days. The twelve jurors were outraged by the couple’s conduct and returned a unanimous verdict awarding the president $1 million in emotional distress and punitive damages. (Avetoom v. Fridman, Case No. 30-2010-00345490.)
QUESTION: According the the Secretary of State website, I cannot file Form SI-100 online because a CID corporation must also file a SI-CID. For some reason the second form is not online. I submitted paper forms via snail mail only to find out 5 months later that one field was missing a +4 zip code. An online process with a credit card would be much more efficient and insure that forms are correctly filled out before submission. What can I do to help push this process into the computer age?
ANSWER: California government is always behind the business community when it comes to new technology and customer service. As a rule, state agencies tend to be slow, inefficient and costly. Recent paleontological digs have found California’s seal mixed with dinosaur bones in the fossil record. Unlike dinosaurs, however, state agencies never die. They just get bigger.
RECOMMENDATION: Lobby your legislator.
The FHA adjusted an element of the certification requirement for condominium associations.
Previously, management companies had to provide a separate fidelity bond insuring the association as well as themselves (creating insurance problems for management companies). The FHA is dropping the requirement for those management companies named as additional insured on the association’s policy.
But, as with most governmental agencies, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Fannie Mae continues to require that management companies carry their own fidelity coverage. Complying with FHA and Fannie Mae’s shifting demands continues to be a drag on the housing industry.
RECOMMENDATION: Boards wanting to meet FHA and Fannie Mae requirements should talk to their association’s insurance broker.
Thank you to Scott Iden of US Approvals, LLC, a company specializing in FHA certifications, for this update.
-Adrian J. Adams, ADAMS KESSLER PLC