Contact Information

Associations should ensure that there is always a point of contact for members to reach out and express concerns, report emergencies and request repairs. Including this information in your annual disclosures, as well as in assessment statements, ensures clear open lines of communication. That being said, the board is not required to be the point of contact for an association as that is typically the role of a manager.

Classes of Members

Membership classes are memberships that differ in their voting rights. They typically exist in developer-controlled associations and different and usually greater voting rights for developers than members in board elections and votes to amend the governing documents. Developers are typically entitled to three votes for each property owned until one of several triggering events occurs. Owners are typically called Class A members and developers are Class B members. When a specified triggering event happens, Class B members become Class A members with one-for-one voting rights. See Bureau of Real Estate (“BRE”) Reg. 2792.18. In master associations, there may be Class C members under which the developer is entitled to elect a majority of the board until a specified triggering event occurs. See BRE Reg. 2792.32.

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.

Contractors

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 www.cslb.ca.gov. 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.

Clubhouse

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.

Cameras

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.

Contracts

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.