Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law September 18, 2021

Last year the insurance market suffered catastrophic losses of $210 billion from worldwide natural disasters. The top five costliest ones were in the United States.

California Losses. Last year was also the most expensive year on record for destructive fires in California. The State suffered 69 major fires that consumed 4.4 million acres, damaging or destroying 10,500 structures, and killing 33 people.

Insurance Premiums. California's insurance carriers have taken steps to reduce the enormous losses they suffer from wildfires. Some have refused to renew policies in California. Others have doubled, tripled or quadrupled premiums while, at the same time, raising deductibles to $100,000. This has caused sticker shock for associations and homeowners alike.

Managers and budget committees should talk to their insurance agents for estimates on premium increases for next year, and then budget accordingly. Otherwise, boards may need to impose special assessments when insurance renewals hit.

Legislation. To help reduce the risk of wildfire destruction, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 38, which went into effect January 1. It requires sellers of property in high fire zones to disclose to buyers their home's vulnerability to flying embers, such as:
  1. Eave, soffit, and roof ventilations that are not flame- and ember-resistant;
  2. Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes;
  3. Combustible landscaping or other materials within five feet of the home;
  4. Single-pane or nontempered-glass windows;
  5. Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing;
  6. Rain gutters without noncombustible gutter covers.
In addition, the seller must obtain a certificate that their property is in compliance with Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code or local vegetation management ordinances.

The default brush clearance requirement is 100 feet from each side and from each of the front and rear of the structure.

Condominiums? For single family homes in planned developments, it is clear who is required to inspect and make disclosures — the owner. What about condominiums where the structure is owned in common? The statute makes no exception for condos. It states, "the seller of any real property" shall make disclosures. It means boards of directors of condominium and townhome associations need to have their properties inspected and then circulate a report to all members so owners can make appropriate disclosures to buyers.

Fire Map. More than 2,000,000 California households (almost one in four), are located in high to very high fire hazard zones. To find out if your property is affected, visit the Cal Fire website and enter your address. Information on fire hardening, including current building standards and information on minimum annual vegetation management standards to protect homes from wildfires, can be found at

RECOMMENDATION. Boards and homeowners should immediately request a "Defensible Space Inspection" to determine if their properties meet new fire safety requirements. Since we seem to be in year-round fire seasons, owners should harden their properties before a fire hits the surrounding area. For more information, see Defensible Space Program and Fire Hazard Severity Zones.


Next in our series of 2-Minute Videos, we describe why associations without employees still need workers' compensation insurance to protect against costly injury claims.

The video describes the significant potential exposure associations face from vendors who work in their common areas, and from board and committee members performing volunteer activities.

The video explains how injuries can lead to costly claims that can be avoided with an inexpensive workers' comp policy.

  Watch: Workers' Compensation Insurance


The Foundation for Community Association Research conducted another groundbreaking research project into how to attract talent to the community association industry. There has been such a hiring shortage of good managers that the research team looked at:
• How and where companies find managers
• What other professions have transferable skills to make a community manager
• Benefits that are most attractive to new hires
• What managers find rewarding about their work
• Challenges that deter managers from remaining in the industry over the long term
• How to improve job satisfaction
The report is free and can be read here.

Boards can contact us for friendly,
professional advice.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner
DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary only, 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 itself 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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Workers Comp Ins
Why HOAs Exist
Preparing Budgets
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Governing Docs
Emergency Meetings
Virtual Meetings
Four Kinds of CIDs
Fiduciary Duties
Origin of Condo Laws
Conflicts of Interest
Reserve Borrowing

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