Davis-Stirling.com > Newsletters > 2017 Newsletters > Speaking Chinese
Adams Stirling PLC
Menu
  California's Leader in Community Association Law December 17, 2017
CHINESE TRANSLATION
REQUIRED?

QUESTION: The majority of our members speak Chinese. Can our board meetings be conducted and minutes taken in Chinese? If not, are we required to provide a translator?

ANSWER: Good question. There is nothing in statutes or case law that requires your meetings be conducted in a particular language. Nor is there anything on point regarding translation of meetings and records. Even so, there is enough in the law to adopt a reasonable policy.

California Law. Article III, Section 6 of the California Constitution provides that “English is the official language of the State of California.” The Davis-Stirling Act (which governs community associations) and the Corporations Code (which governs corporate entities) are both written in English. That indicates that, at a minimum, all association records must be kept in English.

Conducting Meetings. As a practical matter, if everyone on the board and everyone attending a meeting speaks Chinese, then Chinese should be spoken. If even one person speaks English-only, the meeting should be conducted in English or a Chinese-to-English translator provided at no cost to the attendee. The minutes, as the official records of the association, must be in English. They can be taken in Chinese but must be translated into English whether or not English speakers reside in the association.

Translators. If meetings are conducted in English, HOAs are not required to provide translation into other languages since English is the official language of California. If there are attendees who speak other languages and want to bring a translator to board meetings, they may do so at their own expense. Boards should not exclude a translator just because the person is not a member of the association. If the translator happens to be the member's attorney, you should show the lawyer to the door.

NOTE: Language issues are not unusual. We have a large number of immigrants in California and they often seek out fellow immigrants. I was once legal counsel to an association made up entirely of Spanish speaking members. When I attended meetings, they supplied a translator so I could understand their questions and they could translate my answers. Their management company kept all their records in English.

Thank you to attorney Jennie Park for her research on this issue.

 
FINDER'S FEES TO
HIRE MANAGERS

QUESTION: The board is paying $45,000 in finders fees to an agency to find another general manager. In 5 years our HOA has had 4 managers. In 3 months, 5 administration employees left. Should the $45,000 be voted on by the membership?

ANSWER: Four managers in five years and the loss of five administration employees?? Something is amiss.

High Turnover. Employees often leave for the following reasons: (i) they are underpaid, (ii) they are badly treated, or (iii) they cannot meet expectations and are let go. It seems unlikely you had four managers and five admin employees who were unqualified to do their jobs. That means working conditions are a problem.

Bad Reputation. Word gets around when an association burns through four managers in five years. That means paying a recruiter to find a manager may be necessary. Can boards pay a finder's fee? Yes. Does it require membership approval? No.

RECOMMENDATION: It sounds like one or more board members and/or homeowners are out of control and need to be medicated (or tasered). Otherwise, the problem of staff turnover will continue. High turnover means membership services decline, costs climb and projects end up on the back burner. Members should demand an explanation.

 
DOG PREVENTING
MAIL DELIVERY

QUESTION: I own a condo and cannot receive mail due to a neighbor's aggressive dog (deemed so by the USPS). Because of the dog, our mail has been suspended. We have to go to the post office to retrieve our mail. I have been hounding the board but they refuse to deal with the dog's owner.

ANSWER: I'm surprised the board is refusing to act. The loss of mail service is more than enough reason to take action against the owner and his renter. In addition, there is the potential liability the association is exposed to.

Potential Liability. A dog known to the board to be aggressive and deemed so by the U.S. Postal Service creates potential liability for the association. If the dog were to maul a child, can you imagine the lawsuit that would follow? If the damages exceed the association's insurance policy, you will be paying an emergency special assessment. There is also the prospect of punitive damages which are not covered by insurance. That means an even larger special assessment.

Director Liability. If the membership gets hit with a large special assessment because directors sat on their hands rather than deal with a known safety threat to the membership, they could be sued personally.
I am baffled by the board's inaction.

Lawyer Letter. Legal counsel for the association should make a written demand on the owner to immediately evict his tenant or face a lawsuit. It has been my experience that landlords are averse to litigation. The goal of an investor is to make money on rental property, not lose money on legal expenses. Landlords tend to do the right thing when facing litigation over a problem tenant.

RECOMMENDATION. If the board continues to put the community at risk by their inaction, it may be time to recall the board or run candidates against them in the next election. The loss of mail service should be sufficient to motivate members to elect a new board.

 
YEAR-END
THANK YOU!

A sincere thank you to our readers and clients. Many of your newsletter questions have been added to the Davis-Stirling website to form an ever-expanding database of information free to board members, homeowners and managers alike.

I want to welcome the over 300 new clients who joined the firm this year. Because of your support we have grown to 10 offices around the state with 22 lawyers providing corporate counsel and litigation services to commercial, residential and mixed-use associations.

BEST WISHES. May you enjoy the holidays and have a New Year filled with peace, prosperity and happiness. From all of us at ADAMS | STIRLING, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2018!

 

Mold #1. Great coverage of the mold issue, mold can be a nothing or it can kill you. Your point of having proof of mold is spot on. -Finn M.

Mold #2. Something to clarify on the insurance aspect of the water intrusion is that most policies provide at least some coverage for mold removal resulting from a covered water loss. Associations can also protect themselves from third-party mold liability allegations with environmental impairment liability (“EIL”) policies with specific extensions for mold. EIL is more common for businesses with significant pollution exposures (gas stations, etc.) but the policies are also available for community associations, though inclusion of third-party mold coverage significantly increases the premiums. -Brian Kalmenson, Abdou Insurance Agency

 
*****

Appointing Directors. I thought your answer to the board vacancy question was excellent. -T.J.

Appointing Directors. Does a director appointed by the board have the same protection of only being removed by the membership? -Victoria C.

RESPONSE: Only under limited circumstances can directors, whether appointed or elected, be removed by fellow directors.

Boards may declare vacant the office of any director who ceases to meet qualifications that were in effect at the beginning of that director's term of office. (Corp. Code §7221(b).) In addition, the board may declare vacant the seat of a director who has been declared of unsound mind by a final order of court, or convicted of a felony or, if at the time a director is elected, the bylaws provide that a director may be removed for missing board meetings. (Corp. Code §7221(a).)

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
 
Boards can contact us for friendly and professional legal advice.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner
ADAMS | STIRLING PLC


NEW CLIENTS IN NOVEMBER
1040 Continentals HOA
2050 Lundy Plaza
400 Union Ave HOA
600 Pennsylvania Ave
88 Commercial Assn
88 Master Assn
88 Residential Assn
Adobe Springs Village
Alameda Park Center
Almaden Recreation Club
Arques Office Condos
Bay Yacht Club OA
Baytree HOA
Baywood Townhomes
Bean Creek HOA
Birch Green Park Assn
Blossom Village Assn
Boulder Creek Country Club Villas Unit V
Boulder Creek County Club Villas Unit IV
Broadway Terrace Assn
Brookside Glen HOA Camino Verde Estates
Campbell Squire HOA
Canyon Pointe HOA
Capitol Estates HOA
Capitol Hill HOA
Capitola Greens HOA
Capitola Shores HOA Carlton Square HOA
Casa de Anna HOA
Cathedral Building OA
Cathedral Canyon #17
Cherry Plaza HOA
Colfax Villas Association
Compass Place HOA
Coronado Villas
Corte Madera HOA
Corvin Business Center
Cottage Green HOA
Courtyard HOA Courtstyle HOA
Courtyard Berryessa
Creekside Oaks Assn
Crescent Parc of San Jose HOA
Cupertino Creekside
De Anza-Forge Assn
Dover Place Assn
Dry Creek Place HOA
Eight Mile Development
Expressions of Sunnyvale
Fair Oaks HOA 90
Forbes Mill Assn
Foxborough Crossing Fruitdale Condominiums
Garden Park Village Glenmoor HOA
Granada HOA
GVT Homeowners
Hamilton Downs HOA
Harbor Bay Assn
Harbor Vista Associates
Hastings Square West
Heritage Heights East
Hidden Terrace OA
Hillsborough Collection
Holiday Estates
Imperial Courts HOA
Jefferson Square HOA
Jerez Court Assn
La Vera HOA
Las Casitas IV HOA
Lodi Woodlake North
Los Gatos Commons
Marrakesh COA
Miramar Plaza HOA
Monarch Park HOA
Montcarle Townhouses
Monte Merano HOA
Montecito of Los Gatos
Morgan Village HOA
Mount Vernon Court
Northport Business Park
Orchard Farms West
Orchard View HOA
Park Avenue by the Sea
Ponderosa Mission Hts Ponderosa Towne Homes
Pruneyard Vista HOA
Redwood Vista HOA
Regency Park Assn
Rio Highlands OA
Rock Creek HOA
Saint Andrew Court
Santa Clara Hampton Pl Santa Cruz Harbor Village Assn
Santa Teresa Assn
Saratoga Inn Place HOA
Seascape Uplands HOA
Sharon Glen Assn
Silverwood Village HOA
Sunset Ridge OA
Swan Lake Gardens of Santa Cruz HOA
Tahoe Beach & Ski Club
Tradewinds of San Jose
Traditions of Sunnyvale
Tuscany Hills HOA
Twin Pines Community Union Avenue HOA
Village Oak Townehomes
Villagio Cupertino HOA
Vineyard Estates at Ruby Hill OA
Vista Del Pueblo OA
Walnut Place OA
Westmont Oaks Assn
Weyburn Lane Assn
Willow Glen Mi Casa
Wimbledon Place
Woodleaf Commons III
Woodspring Condos

 

Contact us about amending your CC&Rs and Bylaws.
DISCLAIMER

Our newsletter is for advertising and general information only. Readers should consult legal counsel.

ADAMS | STIRLING PLC


 
Articles may be reprinted provided there are no changes and the following is included:

Reprinted from
Davis-Stirling.com by ADAMS | STIRLING PLC

• Preeminent HOA firm
• Experts on DS Act
• Practical legal advice
• Known for innovation
Offices throughout Calif.