What Are Some of The New HOA & Condo Laws for 2010?

In California, the legislative year is essentially over with regard to bills that will be signed, vetoed, die, or be resurrected uncharacteristically, at least as to changes in the Davis Stirling Act.  The following changes have already been incorporated into THE DAVIS STIRLING ACT IN PLAIN ENGLISH which is my best selling publication. This book covers the Act, explanations of how these HOA – CONDO laws came about and how they shake down in the process of implementation, and what they mean – in plain English. And this year I have added forms to the book, including the assessment and reserve study worksheet, the statutory collections policy, and the brand new “Index” for Disclosure Items that must go out with disclosure packages sent by HOA and Condo Associations beginning in 2010. This new index “reorders” things in a way I would not have chosen, but what the heck, at the least it will provide one law that “dictates” what should be included in the annual disclosure package. There are not a lot of places you can go to find that out other than my californiacondoguru.com website.

 In the meantime, you should know that besides the new “Disclosure Index” which becomes a requirement next year, there are some changes to the “Assessment and Reserve Study Worksheet (form). HOAs and Condo associations will have to disclose the percentage of interest it expects to get on CID funds and also the inflation rate it has used in calculations for the coming year.

 Other addititons:

 **The section on what HOAs can and cannot do with regard to low-water-use landscaping has been expanded.

 **The notice requirements for electronic notice just got more sophisticated as to the form of consent that is required before the HOA or Condo association can use email as a form of notification. There has to be an “electronic signature” and “unrevoked consent”. Compliance with these things are not easy to figure out unless you have help trailing through the maze of applicable laws which fall outside the Davis Stirling Act but are referenced within it.

Anyway, the Davis Stirling Act in Plain English is ready for 2010 and available at the Guru website on the publications page and in the Webstore. You might be able to beat a price increase going into effect any day now if you order it right away.

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4 Responses to What Are Some of The New HOA & Condo Laws for 2010?
  1. C A Goldman
    November 18, 2009 | 6:15 am

    Do the new requirements for electronic notice apply to any type of notice, such as Board Meeting Agendas, Minutes of Board meetings, newsletters, etc., or do they only apply to notices that were previously required to be mailed?

    • Beth Grimm
      November 18, 2009 | 6:58 pm

      It seems clear that the new electronic signature requirement tied to the electronic notice option is available for any notices that allow for electronic mail as an option either in the law or your association governing documents. But be careful because the way the electronic mail statute works is that it allows that form of mail only for those items that are authorized to be sent that way, either by the law or the governing documents and it requires consent of the owner who is to receive it. In any case, the law does not give boards the right to switch to electronic notice for all kinds of association notices – and it recognizes that many people still live in the snail mail world and they deserve to get notices of all kinds just like those who live in the fast paced world. I do believe, however, that if an owner consents to receiving notices via email using an “electronic signature”, that would be another form of authorizing the email use – for that owner. And I suggest, Boards, that the consent form supplied to members lists every form of notice you intend to send via email to that owner. Because about the time you send them a diciplinary hearing notice or a notice relating to a delinquent account – and they do not acknowledge it, and it was not on the list – you have jeopardized your process. And one more thing, I would definitely not suggest that you try and supplant requirements in the law to send any notice by certified mail – return receipt requested – with email notice. You can do both, but again, if you fail to send the certified notice and retrieve a signature, your process could be jeopardized.

      • C A Goldman
        November 21, 2009 | 1:25 am

        We currently hand deliver board meeting minutes and agendas to each owner’s door. Since there are almost 200 units, this costs a substantial amount of time and money. We have been thinking of sending this material via e-mail, but the new laws make it sound impossibly complex. What exactly is ”electronic signature”? Are all HOAs that use e-mail for delivery now in violation of the law unless they obtain ”electronic signature” and display a laundry list of disclaimers in order to avoid liability issues??

        We do not want to resort to the ”ask for it and pay us” style, but we would like to save money.
        What are your thoughts?

        • Beth Grimm
          November 30, 2009 | 12:30 am

          Some things under the Davis Stirling Act may be delivered by any means reasonably intended to reach the owners such as putting the information in the newsletter or on a website. The idea is to NOT EXCLUDE those who do not have access to the internet. As for meeting notices, agendas, and the like, the Board may deliver the information to owners by hand, through a newsletter or general mailing, or by posting in a conspicuous place in the common area and many believe posting on a website is fine too. Owners can request a mailed copy and the Board has to comply. If a board wanted to send email notices to owners, I do not see a barrier, but would suggest that the board seek consent of the owners to use their email for this purpose. One way to accomplish that would be to send out an inquiry letter asking all owners who would consent to having notices sent this way return the form with their email address. If an owner returned their email address, then I would think it legal to provide notice to that person by that means. The “electronic signature” requirement would be more important for things like consent to receive disciplinary or hearing notices or budget and reserve or annual packets and the like via email. One can see it as complicated, or fairly simple. If the board has an email list, and sends out an inquiry to that list, and asks for responses to a question about consent of delivery of certain notices, and receives an email okay with the person’s name on it from any of the recipents, that will probably suffice as adequate in most cases involving notice of association disclosures or letters, meeting notices or agendas.