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HOA Homefront: Does your homeowners association have the required rules?

Operating rules are often called “house rules” or “rules and regulations” by associations in California. Under Civil Code 4350(a), rules must be written, and under Civil Code 4340 are adopted by the board of directors. In adopting or changing rules, boards must follow the procedure stated in Civil Code 4360.

Most rules are tailored by the board of directors to the needs and desires of a given community and may address parking, meeting procedures, architectural standards, or other topics. However, many associations are not aware that each association, regardless of size, must have five sets of rules prescribed by statute.

Election rules: Civil Code 5105 requires associations to have election rules. The statute gives the basic requirements of election rules. These rules would apply not only to board elections, but also to any matter on which a membership vote is required and which requires the 30-day notice and other procedures required by Civil Code 5100(a). These rules must conform to the bylaws, but also can add additional requirements regarding candidate eligibility, per the appellate case of Friars Village v. Hansing from 2013.

Internal Dispute Resolution (“IDR”) policies: Civil Code 5905 requires all associations to adopt a fair and reasonable policy to establish an IDR procedure, in which a homeowner may meet with another homeowner or the board to try to work out things short of litigation. If an association fails to create such a policy, Civil Code 5915 sets forth the procedure.

Architectural modification request procedures: A frequent board and management function is to respond to homeowners who wish to modify their residence or adjacent common area. Civil Code 4765 requires associations to have a written procedure for the process. If the association has no procedure in its rules, then homeowners and board alike have no guidance as to how applications are to be processed.

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