FINES, FAIRNESS AND FRUSTRATION IN CONDOS

Have you received a notice that you are being fined for something in your HOA! Here’s a note from a frustrated reader – see if you can relate:

“Here’s a scenario.  A board member or a homeowner goes to a board member and complains about their neighbor and makes false/true accusations which are in violation of the HOA.  The board members only listen to this person… never contacts the homeowner being accused and makes their decision, issues a letter with a fine to the homeowner.  The protocol is an appeal at an executive hearing.  Which basically means you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.  AND if they don’t like you, it gets even worse.”

Can you relate?

In California, before a Board can impose a fine it is required to:

Adopt and circulate a fine schedule (which must be provided to owners for comment before adoption)  AND

Provide at least 10 days notice (15 if the governing documents require 15) of the meeting at which it will be considering the fine (often called the Hearing) AND the opportunity for the Owner to attend the meeting  AND

Hold the hearing , in executive session if the owner requests it (the hearings are commonly in executive session to protect the privacy of the owner)  AND

Render a written decision within 15 days of the hearing.  OR

The fine is not effective. See Civil Code Sections 1363 (g) and (h) which are accessible through my website by clicking on THE DAVIS STIRLING ACT on the main page.

Hopefully, if the owner goes to the hearing, he or she can tell the board the REAL story! Before any fine is imposed.

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2 Responses to FINES, FAIRNESS AND FRUSTRATION IN CONDOS
  1. Dee B.
    September 11, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    Hi Beth,

    A somewhat related question….

    The Board of Directors sent a notification of their intent to impose rules and fines on our association. This was a ‘surprise’ to most homeowners as we’re a small, respectful and relaxed community.

    So, some of the homeowners drafted a petition to request a ‘special meeting’ as outlined in the Davis-Stirling info (Corp Code, Civil Code). The property manager (at the direction of the Board) published the agenda and sent notification to the association of the date and purpose of the special meeting.

    So far, so good. However….

    The homeowners attended the meeting but the Board of Directors did not.

    What can we do in this situation?

    Thanks – LOVE YOUR SITE !

    • Beth Grimm
      September 16, 2010 | 4:38 pm

      Sometimes rules are good, beneficial and helpful as not all people do well on their own living close to their neighbors. However, if there is any rule that is suggested by the board in the rules sent out for review and comment that is objectionable to any owners, there is a process in the statutes that allows for a petition to the board to take a vote to reverse the rule. (See Civil Code Section 1357.100 and the laws that follow, available through the Davis Stirling Act link on my website. It sounds like in this situation the board missed an opportunity to meet with the homeowners and iron out some differences. And I have no idea why a manager or board would schedule an association meeting and fail to show up – it illustrates poor politics and poor judgment – is it legally actionable? Probably not.

      And there may be more to this than meets the eye, which is common. Maybe the petition was inartful in it’s request. Maybe it asked for something the board did not have to honor. Maybe the manager sent the notice without the board’s consent. Maybe the board never intended to come, or did intend to and then did not come because of something that happened in between the notice and the meeting. Or maybe people that are involved are lacking in knowledge of obligations, rights, and responsibilities and do not know how things should operate. It’s hard to say without understanding what is going on in the association. But all could benefit from knowledge that can be gained from my website at http://www.californiacondoguru.com. I just recently did a free newsletter available in the E-News Archives about involving the membership in emotional issues. Maybe that is a good place to start here, for the board. And then there are two primers on Board Basics, one on Operations and 30+ others on all subjects, available at a very low cost. There is a whole series on Enforcement and the first one talks about how rule setting and how to build consensus instead of turning owners off to rules. Good luck!