Building Boundaries

Questions about building boundaries typically arise most often in a condominium context where boundary lines between common area and units, between units and exclusive use areas and between exclusive use areas are relevant to maintenance. In non-condominiums, building boundaries may be relevant to encroachment onto an adjoining owner’s property, onto an easement or onto a setback required by the governing documents or local law. Making such determinations requires an examination of a condominium plan, tract map or parcel map. It may also require some type of inspection in the field using a licensed land surveyor or engineer.


Members or former members who are in financial straits may file for bankruptcy protection. If you learn of a bankruptcy, immediately cease collection efforts and contact the association’s counsel. Debts to associations are sometimes paid through bankruptcy, or, the debt may be discharged. If the association is to be paid, there are short timeframes for filing claims.

Business Judgment Rule

The business judgment rule mandates a director to perform his/her duties in good faith, in a manner such director believes to be in the best interests of the corporation, and with such care, including reasonable inquiry, as an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would in similar circumstances. (Corp. Code § 7231(a)) In following this rule, a director will avoid personal liability for poor decisions. See also Civil Code section 5800.

Barking Dogs

The CC&Rs for many associations prohibit noise nuisances in general and pet nuisances specifically. Excessive animal noise, including excessive dog barking, can frequently be addressed through one or both of these provisions. Additionally, local noise ordinances usually contain an express prohibition on excessive dog barking.


“Bylaws” refers to the document regulating the administration of the association (such as voting rights, notice and convening of board and member meetings, number of directors, offices, proxies, appointment of committees, etc.) Both incorporated and unincorporated associations have bylaws. Many older sets of bylaws contain provisions appropriate under the Corporations Code, however, changes to the Davis-Stirling Act have frequently overridden different provisions in the Corporations Code (particularly in the area of elections), so care must be exercised in determining whether a particular bylaw provision continues to be valid.

Board Duties and Authority

The activities and affairs of an incorporated association shall be conducted, and all corporate powers exercise by, or under the direction of, the board. (Corp. Code §7210) The specific duties and powers of the board of directors, as well as limitations thereon (such as the specific corporate actions which may require prior member consent) are generally set forth in the bylaws, and occasionally in the CC&Rs.


A bond is a contract between an obligor (e.g., a developer), obligee (e.g., an association) and a surety (i.e., a bonding company). A bond provides security to the obligee that the obligor will deliver on a promise to perform. A bond will, typically, be in an amount sufficient to compensate the obligee for the obligor’s failure to deliver on its promise. If the obligor fails to perform, then the obligee has the right to request that the surety pay the obligee an amount up to the value of the bond.