Smoke that drifts from one area of association property to another is a nuisance. This includes tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, BBQ smoke, etc. Associations have a duty to enforce nuisance violations and should require the violating person to abate the nuisance. Developments in both case and statutory law support an association prohibiting or restricting smoking in common areas, exclusive use areas and even inside units.

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.

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.


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.

Service of Process

Service of process is a legal method of providing notice and documents to a party involved in the legal process. The method of service for a particular item is governed by statute. A variety of legal documents are not deemed effective under the law without service of process, including writs, summons and complaints (lawsuits), and various court orders.

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.

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.