New Year, New Laws!Jan 01, 2024
By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL, HOA Homefront Article
A number of new laws affecting California HOAs take effect in 2024. Here is a quick recap of what changes.
First is a reminder of an existing law with a deadline looming for HOAs. Civil Code Section 5551 became law in 2020, requiring all HOA “elevated exterior elements” which are HOA responsibility to be inspected by an architect or structural engineer before 2025. Associations should not wait until later in 2024 to comply. Many HOAs are finding it difficult to locate structural engineers or architects to perform these inspections.
Purely virtual HOA board meetings are allowed by the new Civil Code Section 4926. If the HOA gives notice as to how to participate, including a telephone number and email of a person to contact for help joining the meeting, the HOA may meet purely virtually without a designated physical location where persons can attend. All board votes must be by roll call, meaning each director says “yes” or “aye,” “no” or “nay,” or “abstain.” The new law only applies to board meetings, not membership meetings.
HOAs struggling to achieve membership quorum (the minimum number of members voting to conduct a membership vote) will receive help from changes to Civil Code Section 5115. If the HOA announces in advance that the quorum may be reduced if insufficient members participate, the board may call a subsequent member meeting at least 20 days after the failed meeting, with a quorum of 20%. The HOA must announce the reduced quorum meeting at least 15 days before the meeting.
Some technical “clean-up” amendments to the Davis-Stirling Act confirm that seated directors must meet the same requirements as candidates, and that directors who cease to be owners are disqualified from the board. These amendments are now found in Civil Code Section 5105.
Cities may allow homeowners to create their own 2-unit condominium associations, by virtue of yet another law encouraging accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”). This comes from a new subpart 10 added to Government Code Section 65852.2(a), allowing cities to permit a homeowner to convert their home and an ADU on their lot into a 2-unit condominium association. Time will tell if this law is really a help or if it creates too many difficulties. I have found that most 2-unit condominium associations operate in a manner more akin to a partnership than a common interest development.
A few new laws won’t take effect for a while, such as the new Water Code Section 10608.14, which requires all HOAs with “non-functional turf” to remove it or provide non-potable water to irrigate it by the beginning of 2029. “Turf,” per the California Code of Regulations, means mowed grass, and “functional turf” means mowed grass in a recreational use area or community space. Larger HOAs with areas of decorative grass should not wait until the last minute to evaluate their landscaping irrigation situation.
Starting in 2025, new HOAs can be established with different assessment increase caps for units designated as “affordable.” While boards can still increase assessments by up to 20% for regular homes, a new Civil Code Section 5605(c) limits increases on affordable homes to 5% plus the cost of living, for a maximum increase of 10%.
The official site to read the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, or any California law, is www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.