Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law June 5, 2024

QUESTION: An owner died six years ago and the property was presumably inherited by his son. He has not changed the title or even communicated with the association. How do we enforce our documents or send the property to collection without the son's contact information? -Rick S.

ANSWER: You should contact the Public Administrator for the county in which the property is located. The Administrator will attempt to contact missing heirs or even probate the estate of the deceased.

As far as the delinquent dues go, according to Richard Witkin and Susan Paquette of Witkin & Neal, Inc, the HOA can put a lien on the property for the delinquencies by using the name of the deceased owner and the property address because, although deceased, the departed person is still the "owner of record" and that is all that the lien requires.


QUESTION: Are HOAs in mobilehome parks that follow Mobilehome Residency Laws considered community associations? Do they need to follow the Open Meetings Act? -Diane

ANSWER: Yes, mobilehome parks can qualify as homeowner associations. They can be structures as condominiums, planned developments, stock cooperatives, or tenants in common. Each falls under the Davis-Stirling Act, which means board meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act.

QUESTION: Does an absentee ballot count towards quorum for an annual meeting, or just proxies? It is very confusing as to what counts towards quorum. –Susan B.

ANSWER: All ballots cast by owners, whether residents or absentees, count toward quorum. Ballots are treated as a member present at a meeting for purposes of counting quorum. (Civ. Code § 5115(d).) Proxies also count toward quorum. Finally, owners present in the meeting who have not yet cast a ballot count toward quorum.

RECOMMENDATION: We routinely eliminate quorum requirements for the election of directors when we amend and restate bylaws for associations. It greatly simplifies elections and keeps costs down by doing away with the need for repeated adjourned meetings. Your association should consider doing the same.


QUESTION: Can bylaws restrict the president to a full-time resident? –Marion M.

ANSWER: Yes, they can. It is an unusual requirement, but not one barred by statute. The difference between directors and officers is important. Candidate qualifications for directors cannot require board members be residents. The only mandatory requirement is that directors be members of the association. (Civ. Code § 5105(b).) Bylaws can, however, establish reasonable requirements for officers.


QUESTION: State law says we must reserve for components with a useful life of 30 years or less. I’m the “reservist” at our HOA and I’ve been using 50 years, as we have a number of very large items that would catch us with our pants down if we didn’t use 50. Is there discussion of changing the 30-year requirement to 50 years? –Norm P.

ANSWER: While reserve study providers have generally standardized on 30 years of reserve income and expenses in their reports (Civ. Code 5550(b)(1)), the national reserve study standards were revised in 2023 to recommend including components with a useful life greater than 30 years that are reasonably foreseeable. According to Robert Nordlund, CEO of Association Reserves, Inc., many reserve study providers in California been already moved to the new standards.


We are pleased to announce that senior attorney Johanna Deleissegues (pronounced “del a sagus”) joined our firm.

Johanna has 19 years of experience as corporate counsel to community associations, advising boards of directors, preparing and amending documents, drafting agreements, and handling litigation.

Johanna earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Boston College, followed by a Master of Arts from the University of Florida College of Journalism. She then earned her Juris Doctor with high honors from the University of Florida College of Law where Johanna was inducted into the Phi Delta Phi Legal Honors Fraternity.

Johanna joins our San Diego team of lawyers. If your association would like a proposal for legal services, please contact us for more information.

Hiring. We have additional openings for attorneys. If you are interested, email Adrian Adams or call him at 800-464-2817.


We are pleased to welcome law student Findlay Holbrook as a participant in our firm’s annual summer associate program.

Findlay is a 2025 J.D. candidate at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She was accepted into the program after earning a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude from Arizona State University.

As a law clerk, Findlay will gain valuable legal experience working with the partners and associates in our firm.


Valuable Information. I've been a follower of your newsletter for many years and find its information and your website extremely valuable for board members. Thank you so much for this valuable resource. -Rick S.

RESPONSE: Thank you for the feedback. I just finished taking the website through a major overhaul (which is why I haven't been writing newsletters). Due to the significant changes, our dedicated Google search engine is struggling to catch up. It means searches may turn up erroneous results for the next 30 days or so. If that happens, you can use the Index to find what you need.

The improvements created a fair number of broken links on pages throughout the website. We are doing our best to track them down and correct them. If you find any, please report them. The overhaul was done in preparation for the launch of a mobile app currently under development. Stay tuned--we will roll it out in the near future.

Feeling the Love. LOVE your newsletter. Been reading it for many years now. -Norm P.

Insurance Clarification. God I love your newsletters. I have a clarification. You stated that the association is the policy holder, thus they should make insurance claims. I don’t disagree, however, I want to point out that that each member is also an insured under the policy since they pay portions of the premium as part of their assessment. This means that they can make a claim on the policy if they wish. In fact, insurance law requires agents and carriers to accept claims filed by unit owners. Do we prefer that the claim come from the board or manager– of course. However, we cannot deny the owner if they wish to do so. –Terri Guest, CIRMS, Berg Insurance Agency, Inc.

RESPONSE: Insurance is a mystery to most--your feedback and clarifications are always welcome.

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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