Q: I’m in dispute with my association. The original doors facing the outside of my condo have extensive dry-rot. I’ve read the association’s matrix regarding the responsibility issue, and I believe it spells it out, but I’m getting denied my request for repairs. Is this the responsibility of the association to fix and/or maintain?
— R.M., Coto de Caza
A: Civil Code Section 4775 allocates HOA maintenance and repair responsibility, stating that, unless the governing documents say otherwise, the HOA repairs common area and exclusive use common area and homeowners maintain their exclusive use common area items. If the governing documents do not mention entry doors, then the Civil Code Section 4145(b) definition of “exclusive use common area” includes “exterior doors, doorframes, and hardware incident thereto.” So, if the governing documents are silent, the HOA would be expected to repair damaged entry doors (assuming that the homeowner did not cause the damage).
Maintenance matrices are an increasingly popular tool to guide responsibility for maintenance and repair of listed items. These are essentially attorney opinions in chart form, and the governing documents and statutes still take precedence if there is a conflict. Occasionally, I find errors in a matrix prepared by someone else. Still, corrections don’t require a board or membership vote – it is sufficient to send a corrected version to the membership.
Q: I have been in touch with our manager several times about the cleanliness of the pools here, but nothing is happening. Multiple residents are very upset and claim they have been having this problem here for a very long time. Who do I speak to if the property management isn’t listening?
— A.F., Fountain Valley
A: Normally, your manager follows the board’s directions. If there is a problem with the association’s pool cleaning vendor, bring it to the board’s attention during an open forum. If sufficient homeowners agree with you and the board does not seem to be listening, consider collecting a petition to demonstrate that you are not the only person with this concern. Hopefully, that will help the board see that there is a problem vendor. Never try to intervene with the vendor personally, but instead allow the board to instruct the manager to handle the issue.
Q: Our HOA is considering no longer paying to cover slab leaks. Most of our units have already incurred a slab leak, but mine has not. I have faithfully paid my monthly fees for many years to cover slab leaks and now find that I may no longer be covered. This does not seem fair. What can I do?
— C. B., San Pedro
A: To reallocate repair responsibilities would require an amendment to the CC&Rs; since any deviation from the Civil Code 4775 repair and maintenance allocations must be stated in the CC&Rs. Amending the CC&Rs on this subject would require a membership vote, which would allow you to oppose it.
Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner of Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected].