Community Service Organization

A Community Service Organization is defined in Civil Code section 4110 as a nonprofit entity (not a CID) organized to provide services to residents of a CID or to the public, to the extent a CID’s common area or facilities are available to the public. The term is also used in Civil Code sections 4575, 4580, 5240, and 5580.

Cable Television

Depending on the provisions of an association’s governing documents, an association can enter into cable contracts without membership approval. Bulk cable contracts provide a reduced rate for cable services. Even if the board has authority to enter into a cable contract for the entire community, member approval may be required if the term of the contract exceeds any service contract term limits in the governing documents.


Most construction or repair work with a value over $500 must be performed by a contractor that is properly licensed (Bus & Prof. Code 7028 and 7048). A summary of the licenses issued by the State of California, and the work that can be performed by a person holding each type of license can be found at A check of this website should be made before any contract is signed to ensure that the Association is working with a person or company lawfully entitled to do the work and that the license is active and valid.


An association’s governing documents generally provide that every member of the association shall have a non-exclusive easement for use and enjoyment of the common area, including, but not limited to the clubhouse. Essentially this means that while every member of the association has equal access rights to the common area and clubhouse, they may not prevent other members from using these facilities simultaneously. An individual owner’s use of the common area and clubhouse may be regulated by an association. For example, the association’s governing documents may provide the association has the right to reasonably restrict the number of guests of owners using common area facilities. Further, governing documents generally provide an association has a right to establish rules and regulations pertaining to the use of common area facilities. If not already provided for in its governing documents, an association should consider including a requirement that individuals requesting to use the clubhouse facilities for a private event must enter into an indemnity agreement in order to help insulate the association from liability during this event.

Comparative Fault

Where two or more parties (including a plaintiff) are liable for the damage or injury alleged in a lawsuit, the judge or jury will determine the comparative fault of the parties, expressed as a percentage. If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault, then the amount of damages awarded is reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s comparative fault. If two or more defendants are found to be comparatively at fault, a plaintiff may recover the full amount of damages from either defendant. It is incumbent upon co-defendants to claim contribution from each other for the amount of damages paid in excess of their respective comparative fault. Defendants may also counter sue third parties for contribution if the third party bears some comparative fault.


Used by some associations to help deter crime and identify perpetrators of crime. Use of cameras can create additional liability for an association, especially if members misconstrue the cameras to be a guaranty or assumption of responsibility by the association for their safety. Cameras may only be used in portions of the common area where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.


A contract is an agreement that defines the rights, duties and obligations of the parties to whatever service is being performed. The content of a contract will often determine the outcome of any dispute that might arise, so it is important that all contracts be written or reviewed by counsel before they are signed by the board.

Code of Ethics

While there is no statutory requirement for a director to execute a statement or agreement regarding ethics as a condition of serving on a board, many associations find such policies to be good general statements of what the board expects in terms of individual director performance. A code of conduct or code of ethics is something that could be used for both the board and members of an association’s volunteer committees. See Article, Rules of Procedure Codes of Conduct: Keeping it Civil & Getting Association Business Done.

Completed Payment

Within 21 days of payment of the sums specified in the notice of delinquent assessment, the association shall record or cause to be recorded in the office of the county recorder in which the notice of the delinquent assessment is recorded, a lien release or notice of rescission and provide the owner of the separate interest a copy of the lien release or notice that the delinquent assessment has been satisfied. See Civil Code section 5685.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colorless, odorless gas, produced by the use of fossil-based fuels in areas without adequate ventilation. As of July 1, 2011 the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act required owners of all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source to install carbon monoxide detectors within the home by July 1, 2011. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, had until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law. (Health & Safety Code §17926) Operable smoke alarms have been required as far back as January 1, 1986. (Health & Safety Code §13113.8)