Short Sales

Short sales can provide an association with a way to recover unpaid assessments without foreclosing on an assessment lien. In a short sale, a property is sold for a price that falls short of the total amount of debt secured by liens against the property. An association that demands payment of delinquent assessments in order to remove an assessment lien may be able to collect the amount owing as the lien may prevent a short sale from taking place.

Service Animal

A term used to distinguish between a pet and an animal which provides a necessary service to a disabled person. A “service animal” is an individually trained animal, per the 2011 ADA regulations. California law also recognizes “emotional support animals” as service animals, under circumstances wherein the use of such animals by persons with emotional or mental disabilities is necessary to afford an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing.

Signature, Reserve Account

Civil Code section 5510 requires the signatures of at least two persons on each withdrawal from the association’s reserves. These two individuals may be either 1) members of the association’s board of directors, or 2) one officer who is not a member of the board of directors and a member of the board of directors. These signature requirements are in place to prevent potential theft and embezzlement.


An association has a duty akin to that of a landlord to take reasonable precautions to protect residents from crime in the common areas, especially if there have been prior instances of crime in the common area. An association also has a duty to maintain in a safe condition the common area and any other components for which it is responsible. Failure to satisfy either of these duties may result in liability for the association.


The display of noncommercial signs, posters and flags is subject to reasonable rules and regulations established by the board of directors. Boards may not prohibit noncommercial signs and posters that are less than 9 square feet in size. Keep in mind that the first amendment protects free speech and courts are traditionally protective of individuals’ rights to express themselves. See Flags for a discussion of the U.S. Flag.

Salary Information

Under the Civil Code, owners may make a document request upon the association wherein they ask for salary information of the association’s employees. Civil Code section 5215 states that information for individual employees shall be set forth by job classification or title, not by the employee’s name, social security number, or other person information. If you receive this type of request, contact your attorney because the association has a duty to protect certain privacy interests of its employees.


Associations, excepting qualified senior communities, may not be able to prohibit the use of skateboards in the common area without risking a claim of familial status or age discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and Unruh Act (“Unruh”) respectively. Further, many rules restricting the usage of skateboards may also run afoul of FHA and Unruh – even if they are intended to protect skateboarders.


This term generally refers to nonjudicial foreclosure of a property by the association to enforce a delinquent owner’s assessment account.  The term may also refer to a short sale, where an owner is attempting to avoid foreclosure by persuading secured creditors to release their liens in exchange for acceptance of a lesser amount than is actually owed.