Rules Enforcement. Common area privileges can be suspended for rules violations as well as unpaid fees, fines, and assessments provided due process is followed and the suspension of privileges is part of the association's published policy for rules enforcement and collection policies. Associations should seek legal counsel for assistance in drafting appropriate language.
Delinquent Assessments. Associations may suspend a member's rights and privileges for unpaid fees, fines, and assessments provided the right to suspend is in the association's collection policy and due process is followed.
1. ALLOWABLE SUSPENSIONS
a. Cable TV. If an association has a bulk contract with the cable company, those services can be suspended.
b. Meeting Facilities. Use of the clubhouse for functions unrelated to association elections can be suspended.
c. Committee Membership. A delinquent owner can be removed from committees.
d. Laundry Facilities. If laundry machines are paid through owners' dues, the service can be suspended. If they are coin operated, the service cannot be suspended.
e. Miscellaneous. Receiving and sending calls through the association's switchboard (mostly highrise associations) can be suspended as well as signing for packages and deliveries (mostly associations with onsite staffing). The announcement of guests can be suspended (mostly gated communities and highrises), i.e. guests can be turned away and told to contact the owner and have him/her meet the guest at the front gate or building entrance.
f. Parking. Associations that provide valet parking (mostly highrise associations) can suspend those privileges to delinquent owners and their family and guests. Guest parking can also be suspended.
g. Recreational Facilities. Use of the recreational facilities such as the pool, gym, tennis courts, etc. may be suspended.
2. DISALLOWED SUSPENSIONS
a. Elevators. Associations cannot suspend elevator service. Elevators have been classified in landlord-tenant law as a utility that cannot be suspended. Moreover, if an elderly or medically challenged owner or guest is forced to walk up stairwells and has a heart attack, the association will likely be sued.
b. Ingress/Egress. Associations cannot bar owners and guests from walking through the lobby. Owners have the right of ingress/egress.
c. Meeting Attendance. Board meeting attendance may not be suspended.
d. Meeting Facilities. Facilities during association elections cannot be suspended.
e. Trash Collection. Trash collection may not be suspended.
f. Utilities. The courts treat associations as landlords when it comes to utilities. Under landlord-tenant law, landlords may not interfere with or terminate utility services (gas, electricity, heat, etc.).
g. Voting Rights. As of January 1, 2020, a member's voting rights can no longer be suspended. (Civ. Code § 5105(h)(1): a ballot cannot be denied to a member for any reason other than not being a member at the time when ballots are distributed.)
Impact of Suspension. If there are multiple owners of a unit/lot, the suspension of rights/privileges for one owner suspends the rights/privileges of all residents of that unit/lot. The suspension also extends to renters.
Habitability. See "Warranty of Habitability."
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.