Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law March 20, 2024

Shawna Pina was unhappy that the board did not comply with demands that her worn roof shingles be replaced.

Contacted Insurance. Even though her roof was not leaking, she went around the board, contacted the association's insurer, and complained that the board was negligently maintaining her roof. The insurance company subsequently canceled the association's policy.

New Policy Required. The board searched for new insurance and found only one company willing to provide a quote--with a cost increase of 397%. The association sued Pina. She defended by claiming her conduct was protected by her right to free speech. The court disagreed and ruled in favor of the association. Pina appealed.

Actions Not Protected. In an unpublished case, the court of appeal observed that Pina
was attempting to force the board to capitulate to her demands to further her own personal interests. The court concluded Pina's actions were not protected and affirmed the trial court's ruling in favor of the association. (Bear Valley Springs Condo. Ass'n v. Pina.)

Comment. It should be obvious that members cannot interfere with the association's vendors. This includes threatening or disrupting relations with insurance carriers, landscapers, security companies, etc. By the same token, boards must be diligent in carrying out their duties to maintain the common areas. As a result of the collapse of Champlain Towers, insurers and lenders are much more sensitive to deferred maintenance in associations.


QUESTION: We just had an election. Owners want to know the individual tabulations for each candidate. The president (who received the least number of votes) is saying that only board members are entitled to know the tabulation because the results are confidential. Is that true? –Henry S.

ANSWER: No it's not true. Votes must be counted by the inspector of elections in public at a properly noticed open meeting, where members can witness the counting. The tabulated results must then be reported to the board, recorded in the minutes, and made available for review by members of the association. In addition, the board must give members notice of the tabulated results
within 15 days of the election. (Civ. Code § 5120.)

QUESTION: With the recent Pineapple Express storm, a unit suffered water damage from the deck. Is this an "Act of God" and could the board claim non-responsibility and refer the owner to their own insurance company? –Denise L.

ANSWER: Laurie Poole and I will cover this and other issues related to water intrusion from all sources. The presentation will be held at noon, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. There will be time for questions at the end. To attend, REGISTER HERE.

We are looking for senior-level attorneys for our offices in Los Angeles and Northern California.

If you are interested, or know someone who may be a good candidate, you can  contact me
confidentially by email or by phone at (800) 464-2817. -Adrian


EV Chargers #1. How much insurance should the board require for charging stations? -Edward L.

RESPONSE: Initially, the legislature required $1 million in coverage. They subsequently amended the statute to remove the dollar amount. They probably realized that the charging station is not the problem, it's the car battery that catches fire. There may still be some value in charging station insurance if it can be linked to the car fire.

EV Chargers #2. What happens if the person cancels their insurance? -Jim

RESPONSE: If the association is named as additional insured, the carrier will notify the association of the cancellation. Perhaps some insurance brokers can comment on this issue.

EV Charges #3. I have homeowners insurance on my condo. Is that sufficient in case my EV catches fire? -Bari B.

RESPONSE: I don't know what your policy covers or the amount of coverage. I suspect it will not be nearly enough to cover the damage to the building's structure caused by a sustained 5,000 degree EV car fire. This is another one for insurance professionals to respond to in our next newsletter.

EV Charges #4. My understanding is that EV chargers are not catching fire. The risk is with the EV cars, which have lithium-ion batteries. Shouldn't the HOA require EV car owners add the HOA as an additional insured? -Marc D.

RESPONSE: You identified the real threat. It's the car batteries, not the chargers, that catch fire. I don't know to what degree EV car insurance covers property damage. If the car catches fire in the parking structure and burns down the building, car insurance will be a drop in the bucket. The association's insurance will have to cover rebuilding the structure. This is another one for insurance professionals to comment on.

Electronic Voting #1. You were asking about an organization called "Verified Voting," which opposes electronic voting for associations. Their website mentions a task force on election crises. I am unaware of any crises in our elections so it all sounds very questionable to me. Sounds like a group that wants to make a big show of solving problems that do not exist. -Susan B.

Electronic Voting #2. I do not support electronic voting. The current election process is confusing enough. Electronic hacking is a very profitable and growing business. Paper is not hackable, verifiable, and safely stowed. I do not see any need to revert to electronic voting as it will not save any money due to its own expensive process to set up. –Gregg G.

RESPONSE: Some inspectors of election are already using electronic voting for non-HOA elections. I used it and found it easy to use.

Electronic Voting #3. I would love the option to have electronic voting for communities… would make it easier! –Frank J.

No Money. We have balcony damage but repairs are on hold due to shortage of funds. Can I ask the city to take over? –Jack H.

RESPONSE: If the inspector found an immediate threat to the safety of occupants, he/she must submit a report to local code enforcement. A building inspector will follow-up. (Civ. Code § 5551(g).) If there are no safety concerns, the city is not going to take over. The board will need to figure out how to pay for the repairs. See Exterior Elevated Elements Inspections.

Public Service. Thank you so much for all the useful public service HOA information contained in your newsletters! –Chris W.

Excellent. Excellent newsletter. Thank you. -Joan J.

Boards can contact us--we are friendly and our rates competitive.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary, not legal advice. Boards need to retain an attorney to review all the facts and give a legal opinion on the issues they face. We serve as corporate counsel to California associations only. Request a proposal to represent your association.

PAST NEWSLETTERS. Readers can find current and prior year newsletters posted here. Older newsletters are not posted since the information they contain can change over time with new statutes and case law. The website, however, is kept updated with current information which can be found via the "Index" or through our website's internal "Google Search" feature.

I join Adrian in inviting you to contact us for your association's legal needs.

Hon. Lawrence W. Stirling, Senior Partner and author of the Davis-Stirling Act

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