Reader Questions - Slow Architectural Enforcement, Distribution of Minutes

board members h o a homefront reader questions Jul 16, 2012

Dear Kelly,

I bought my townhome last year, and recently received a letter stating some windows violate the architectural guidelines and must be changed. My neighbors have told me these windows became an issue several years ago, but the board then decided to drop it. There are 12 homes with these non- compliant windows. Can a board wait several years before attempting to enforce a rule? I am expected to pay for the change.

Another issue I have with the Board is their refusal to specify the exact rule it violates. They simply refer to the entire architectural guidelines document. If I am in violation of a rule, isn’t it their responsibility to provide the exact rule I am breaking?

I feel I am being targeted for bad treatment. For example, my request to replace my front door was denied because it was inconsistent with the community. Yet, I have taken photos of several doors exactly the same and several more clearly inconsistent with the community. What should I do?

MM, Ivine

Dear M.M.,

Your letter is quite instructive, illustrating why architectural enforcement should be consistent and prompt. Sometimes boards are slow to act because they are reluctant to be the “bad guy”, but the failure to act can put you in this position and seem unfair. You very likely are only one of the owners receiving such a letter, and for confidentiality reasons the association will not divulge violation proceedings on your neighbors (just as they should not do the same regarding you). So don’t assume you are being singled out – 11 other neighbors probably feel the same way.

Dear Boards: Associations have five years to enforce their covenants, but it is never a good idea to let it go so long. As MM has described, the problem just becomes worse. Civil Code 1368(a)(5) requires the association to include a statement as to whether there are any unresolved notices of violation. By not promptly issuing violation notices, a purchaser such as MM does not know that the unit comes with an existing violation.

Architectural standards benefit everyone in the community, and consistent and prompt handling of violations is important. It’s also a very good idea to make sure your standards are clear. Specifically communicate how someone is violating those standards – that will make it easier for them to correct violations. I am not saying MM is not in violation, but belated action did not help.


Mr. Richardson,

Is there a rule/law governing the timing required for Association Board meeting minutes to be distributed to the members of the Association? Our Board meets monthly.

P.B., Rancho Palos Verdes

Dear P.B.,

Yes, the Open Meeting Act at Civil Code 1363.05(d) requires draft minutes of open board meetings be made available within thirty days. The minutes may not yet be approved because the board has not met again yet, but draft minutes must still be available if someone requests them.

Minutes are often not ready in time because they are “overcooked” and have far more information than the law and good practice requires, overburdening your board secretary. Check with your manager or counsel to see if your minutes are unnecessarily voluminous. Remember, minutes should only record actions taken, not what somebody said.


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®.