Reader Questions - Homeowner Education

c c & rs h o a homefront reader questions Aug 20, 2012

Dear Mr. Richardson,

We are new to HOA and would like to attend a class on how HOA’s work.

Thank you for your column,

P.G., Hermosa Beach

Dear P.G.,

There are many sources to learn more about how California common interest developments (the legal term for “HOA”) should operate.

The only source of HOA member education nationwide is the Community Associations Institute. Formed over 30 years ago, CAI now has 59 Chapters in the U.S. and a few in other countries. California has eight chapters. In the areas served by this column, those chapters are the Greater Los Angeles Chapter (; the Orange County Regional Chapter (; Channel Islands Chapter (Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and the Greater Inland Empire Chapter (Riverside and San Bernardino counties,

The Orange County Chapter periodically provides a homeowner educational course Community Leadership Training Program (“CLTP”) consisting of five sessions, each two and one half hours long.

The Channel Islands, Greater Inland Empire and Los Angeles Chapters offer a seven hour class, called “Essentials of Community Leadership, typically offered on Saturdays.

All four Chapters periodically offer CAI’s “California Basic Board Education Course”, a three hour survey course of foundational issues pertinent to board service. On the other hand, if you are interested in a deeper exploration of the law regarding HOAs, you may want to take CAI’s California Law Course for Common Interest Development Managers, an 8 hour course accredited by the Department of Real Estate. All California Chapters of CAI offer that course from time to time.

Contact your local Chapter to find out when these courses are next being offered.

If you are unable to travel to any of the local Chapters classes, CAI’s National website offers the 3 hour “California: What Board Members Need to Know” seminar on line in a “webinar” format. Available on-demand, the webinar includes a PowerPoint presentation and course reference materials. Find it at, in the education section, under “on-demand webinars”.

There is a more basic seminar, “The Fundamentals of Community Leadership”, also found on the National CAI web site. On the other hand, if you do not have time to sit through a web seminar, you may want to download and read “An Introduction to Community Association Living”, a free 54 page pamphlet.

The California Association of Realtors® has a publication available to its members which provides an orientation of the basic legal aspects of California HOA living. It is called “Common Interest Developments Basic Information Guide” – your Realtor® can get you a copy at no cost.

On October 19, CAI presents its Third Annual California Law Forum, a day-long legal seminar event for homeowners and managers. This year’s event is at the Pechanga Resort and Conference Center in Temecula.

Many of the better management companies offer client seminars.

So, there are many sources for the homeowner or Director who wants to learn more about proper HOA governance.

The vast majority of legal disputes between homeowners and their associations result not from bad people, but people not understanding basic concepts about California CID living. Education solves that.

P.G., if more homeowners took the time to learn about their rights and responsibilities to their community, there would be far less regrettable disputes that we attorneys would have to handle – and that would be a good thing.


Written by Kelly G. Richardson

Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected]. Past columns at All rights reserved®.