QUESTION: A member recently asked our board if they would consider reducing the annual dues for seniors (over age 65). Can an HOA board offer a senior discount? –Lisa
ANSWER: Unfortunately, not. No discounted assessments can be given to seniors, board members, or anyone else.
Assessment allocations are established by an association's CC&Rs and recorded against owner' units/lots. Most often, the assessments fall into one of three formats: uniform, variable, or blended (see Assessment Allocation).
Because they are equitable servitudes, which boards are obligated to enforce, failure by a board to enforce them means any member of the association can sue the association to compel enforcement. Members who are not senior citizens will likely not want to subsidize the assessments of their neighbors. That means any discount given to seniors will likely be challenged in court.
QUESTION: Our association currently stores paper files of board agendas, minutes, contracts, reports, financials, etc., which now fills our conference room.
We are considering a cloud-based system to save space, improve accessibility, and minimize the financial impact on the association. What should we consider as we initiate this process? -WH
ANSWER: Many associations have been slow to embrace the digital age and still cling to paper files. You identified good reasons why boards should abandon paper. Paper files take up valuable physical space, create a fire hazard, and make it difficult to find records. Storing them digitally eliminates all of these problems. It also provides greater security against loss since the cloud has built-in redundancy.
Records Policy. Someone should go through your records and retain only those that satisfy a records retention policy adopted by the board. Some records must be kept permanently, while others can be gotten rid of. When you dispose of records, make sure they are completely destroyed, preferably by shredding. Simply throwing them into the trash can result in potential liability if confidential records end up in the wrong hands.
Scanning Records. Retained records can be digitized and stored in the cloud. For scanning, boards should use a service that uses optical character recognition (OCR) software that automatically transforms documents into searchable text. Doing so makes it easier to find what you need with a few key strokes. Make sure you ask for this feature since many scanners simply convert documents into images that cannot be searched.
Scanning Services. A scanning service that many law firms use is called "First Legal." They have the capacity to handle high volume requests. In addition, they provide both onsite and offsite digitizing of documents, including blueprints. They also have the ability to store records in the cloud and make them available to authorized users.
A service one of our clients uses is Konica Minolta. The company offers a cloud infrastructure, digitizing records, and information technology (IT) services. For scanning blueprints, boards can also use local blueprint shops. There are many other scanning options available which can be easily located on the internet or recommended to you by an IT consultant.
Storage. For smaller self-managed associations, files can be stored using Microsoft 365’s “family” subscription, with access for up to 6 persons (board members who can log in and manage data). The Microsoft suite of apps, plus six terabytes of OneDrive storage is currently available for $6.99 per month. With storage in OneDrive, boards can provide members with a link to entire folders of documents or to single files upon request without those members needing subscriptions of their own.
RECOMMENDATION: There are many IT consultants who can assist boards in deciding where and how to store digitized records. An experienced consultant we use is Erica G., who can be reached at [email protected].
ADOPTING ELECTRIC VEHICLE
RULES AND POLICIES
If boards have not already done so, every condo board should adopt rules for the installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS).
California Mandate. California is pushing hard to force everyone in the state to switch to electric vehicles. The Governor announced that the sale of new gasoline powered cars and light trucks will be banned by the year 2035.
Owner's Duty to Install. By statute, owners must use a licensed contractor to install a charging station and pay for electricity usage associated with the station. Within 14 days of approval, they must provide a certificate of insurance naming the association as an additional insured under the owner's policy. (Civ. Code § 4745(f)(1).)
HOA Policies. In addition to including the above in a set of Rules, associations should require owners who install an EVCS to sign a covenant, which is then recorded against the unit, making the owner and each successive owner responsible for:
RECOMMENDATION: We provide rules that require owners comply with construction, maintenance, and insurance requirements designed to protect the association from future liability; plus a recordable maintenance covenant for owners who wish to install an EVCS. Contact us for additional information.
- Damage caused by the EVCS;
- Maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station;
- Electricity associated with the station;
- Maintaining a liability insurance on the EVCS; and
- Disclosing the EVCS to buyers and their duties.
Petty Cash. Board members and managers should never use the association's a debit card online. Debit card purchases do not enjoy the same fraud protections that credit cards do. With a compromised credit card, you only lose $50 if you report the theft immediately; with a debit card, the money leaves the account to which the card is tied. It means an association's checking account could be completely drained and the bank has no liability. For more information, see "Debit Cards." -Erica G.
|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.
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