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 community. While failure to take such precautions can lead to liability for an association, certain actions designed to enhance security also have the potential to increase the risk of liability, including the use of security cameras.

Speaking at Meetings

Under the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, an owner (though not the owner’s attorney) has a right to address the board during the period of time set aside by the board for owner comment. See SB Liberty LLC v. Isla Verde Ass’n., Inc. (2013) 217 Cal. App. 4th 272.

Security Cameras

These devices can be used to help discourage crime and identify perpetrators. An association should only use cameras in portions of the common area where residents have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Prior to installing security cameras, an association should adopt a comprehensive policy regarding the use of the equipment to prevent claims of improper use and minimize potential liability. Signage should be clearly posted by each camera. The association should notify residents on a periodic basis that these devices cannot guarantee their safety, and that they should also take reasonable safety precautions.

Special Assessments

A special assessment is an assessment levied in addition to the regular assessment. The board may not impose special assessments which in the aggregate exceed five percent of the budgeted gross expenses of the association for that fiscal year without owner approval, as more fully described in Civil Code section 5605. The limitations of the Civil Code do not, however, limit assessment increases necessary for emergency situations as further described and subject to specified procedural requirements of that section.

Secretary of State Filings

Check the Secretary of State’s website to verify the mailing address for the association. Amendments to Statements are not eligible for electronic filing at this time with the Secretary of State; an amendment must be filed either by mail or at the public counter in Sacramento. Statement of Information, P.O. Box 944230, Sacramento, CA 94244-2300. Visit the Secretary of State’s FAQ regarding annual and biennial requirements for a business entity. If you mail anything to the Secretary of State, be sure to mail it certified mail, return receipt for tracking purposes.

Special Meetings

A “special meeting” refers a board meeting or an association membership meeting that is called at a time or for a purpose other than at the regularly scheduled time, place or purpose for a meeting. Special meetings are not mentioned in the Davis-Stirling Act, but the Davis-Stirling Act has specific requirements for notices and agendas for all board meetings (Civ. Code §4900 et seq.) Provisions relating to meetings and voting that could occur at special member meetings are found in Civil Code section 5000 and section 5100 et seq. Special meetings of the board and members are mentioned in the Corporations Code section 7211 (special board meetings) and sections 7510 & 7511 (special member meetings). For example, a notice of a special member meeting must specify the general nature of the business to be transacted, and no other business may be transacted.

Senior Housing

Any of three types of housing recognized by state and federal law as “housing for older persons.” Generally such housing includes (a) housing occupied exclusively by persons 62 years of age or older, (b) “55+” housing (wherein some persons under the age of 55 are required to be permitted to reside under California law), and (c) housing for seniors constructed using governmental monies.


The subject of spouses arises in a CID under the following circumstances. (1) Is a spouse who is not on record title an “owner” who is entitled to vote, attend board meetings, request inspection of documents, or legally obligated to pay the assessments due to an association? (2) May one spouse, even one whose name appears on title, be entitled to serve on an association board at same time as his or her spouse? These questions require an analysis of the governing documents of the applicable association.

Separate Interest

A separate interest is the generic term used to describe the ownership interest an owner in a CID receives in the space he or she occupies. Civil Code section 4185 states that a separate interest in a condominium project is a separately-owned unit. In a planned development, it is a separately-owned lot, parcel, area, or space. In a stock cooperative, it is the exclusive right to occupy a portion of the real property. In a community apartment project, it is the exclusive right to occupy an apartment.

Standing to Sue

Pursuant to Civil Code section 5980 an association has standing to institute, defend, settle or otherwise intervene in litigation, arbitration, mediation, or administrative proceedings in its own name, without joining its members individually, in matters involving enforcement of the governing documents, damage to the common area, damage to separate interest that the association is obligated to maintain or repair, or damage to separate interest that arises out of or is integrally related to damage to the common area or separate interest the association is obligated to maintain or repair.