Earthquake Insurance

California has no statute that specifies the type or types of insurance that associations must carry. Almost all governing documents allow associations to obtain earthquake insurance coverage, but relatively few associations actually mandate such coverage.

Exclusive Use Common Area

The term assigned by the Davis-Stirling Act to those portions of the common area reserved for the use of one or more, but less than all, owners within the community. (Civ. Code §4145) The Act states that unless the CC&Rs otherwise provide, any shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, balconies, patios, exterior doors, doorframes, and hardware incident thereto, screens and windows or other fixtures designed to serve a separate interest, but located outside the boundaries of the separate interest, are exclusive use common area allocated exclusive to that separate interest. Ibid. Unless the governing documents otherwise provide, the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of the exclusive use common area. (Civ. Code §4775(a))

Easements

An easement is an incorporeal interest in the land of another that gives the easement holder the right to use the other’s land or to prevent the other person from using the land. Easements can be created in many ways, including by deed, agreement, CC&Rs, through necessity, hostile use (prescription), and through petitioning the court to exercise it equitable powers. The owner of the land usually retains the right to use the land encumbered by the easement to the extent that such use does not unreasonably interfere with the easement holder’s use. Easements frequently give rise to disputes concerning what may be done in the easement by the easement holder and the land owner, whether the easement is being overburdened, who must maintain and repair the easement area, and who must share in the cost of that work.

Executive Session

Executive session meetings of the board (i.e., closed session meetings, not open to the membership) may only be held to consider litigation, matters relating to the formation of contracts with third parties, member discipline, personnel matters, or to meet with a member, upon the member’s request, regarding the member’s payment of assessments. Any matter discussed in executive session must be generally noted in the minutes of the next open meeting. (Civ. Code §4935)

Elections

Voting in community association elections involving specified issues must be done using a secret ballot, double-envelope system (Civ. Code §5115), pursuant to duly-adopted election rules. (Civ. Code §5105) The specified issues are elections regarding assessments legally requiring a vote, election and removal of directors, amendments to the governing documents and grant of exclusive use of common area property pursuant to Civil Code section 4600. This list therefore covers most matters brought before the membership for vote. Among other things, election rules must specify candidate and voting qualifications and specify a method for selection of independent inspectors of election. See the statute, Civil Code section 5100 et seq., for detailed requirements.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Effective 1/1/2012, a CC&R provision which prohibits or restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station is void and unenforceable, although the association may impose “reasonable” restrictions (such as those which do not significantly increase the cost of the station or significant decrease its efficiency or specified performance.) If the station is to be placed on common area, including exclusive use common area, the owner must obtain the association’s permission to install it. The association may impose conditions on its approval, as set forth in Civ. Code §4745(f). An association is required to grant permission for an owner to install a charging station, for the owner’s sole use, on the common area, if and only if installation of the station in the owner’s designated parking space is impossible or unreasonably expensive. The association may impose conditions on the installation of the station as set forth in §4745(f).

Electronic Communication

The Corporations Code generally defines electronic transmissions as communications delivered by fax, email, electronic message boards or other means. Members may give consent to the board to transmit certain types of communications, notices or disclosures to members via electronic communication. Consult with your attorney for further information concerning consent and the types of electronic communications authorized under the law.

Electronic Records

Associations have a vast array of documents, communications, correspondences and forms that must be retained. Many associations choose to retain these documents in electronic form to save space and cut down on expense. If the association has chosen to retain its documents in this manner, keep in mind that owners making a document request have the right to review the documents in hardcopy.

Emergency Meetings

Emergency board meetings may be held under limited circumstances. An emergency meeting may be called by the president or by any two members of the board other than the president. It may be held only under circumstances that could not have been reasonably foreseen which require immediate attention and possible board action, and which make it impracticable to provide the notice which would otherwise be required by the Open Meeting Act. (Civ. Code §4923) An emergency meeting may be conducted via electronic transmission if all board members consent, in writing, to do so. Specific procedural requirements must be followed with respect to obtaining and maintaining a record of the required written consents as described in Civil Code section 4910.