One of my first experiences with a home rental was also my worst. I was a newlywed, and the only thing we could afford was a basement apartment in an older house that had been converted into several small business offices. I returned home from work one night to see the door wide open and […]
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Spring is in full swing and the weather is becoming increasingly pleasant. Now is a wonderful time to get outdoors and be active. Here are some fun and fulfilling springtime activities you can pursue in the coming months:
- Join a recreational sports team: Softball. Basketball. Soccer. Kickball. These are just a few of the recreational sports that are surely available in your community. Joining a recreational sports team will give you good exercise, time outdoors, and a chance to blow off some steam after work.
- Visit local, state or national parks: Clean air and light exercise does the body good. Hiking is a good cardio workout and can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Even taking a short stroll around your neighborhood park will get your heart pumping and lift your mood.
- Join a community garden: A decade ago, community gardens were unknown to most Americans. Now, community gardens with lengthy wait lists can be found across the country. It?s no surprise community gardens have become so popular; experts believe they are good for gardeners? wallets, health and even their happiness.
Of course, the average homeowner association board member has a number of distractions that tend to keep them away from enjoying the outdoors and being active with friends and family during this time of the year. Here are some headache-inducing association management tasks you should avoid this spring so you can focus on what really matters instead:
- Maintenance (and dues collections): What spring cleaning is to homeowners, spring maintenance is to homeowner associations. With the difficult process of identifying and then scheduling necessary repairs comes the equally-difficult process of collecting dues from homeowners. Spare yourself the trouble of doing both those unpleasant and time-intensive tasks by having a professional property manager be your maintenance mogul and dues wrangler.
- Answering homeowner questions and requests: Failing to respond to inquiries and requests in a timely manner is the primary complaint about most ineffective and unpopular HOA managers. Keep your fellow homeowners happy and your time free to enjoy all the wondrous things that spring has to offer by delegating this time-consuming task to a property manager who will be more than happy to do it.
- Preparing for and attending board meetings without help: There?s little worse in the HOA world than being stuck inside a stuffy meeting room on a pleasant spring evening. In addition to identifying the items that need discussion and preparing materials to distribute amongst homeowner association members, property managers can use the wealth of information they?ve accumulated to expertly address questions and concerns raised at board meetings, not to mention keep them on track so that they end on time!
Don?t let spring slip through your fingers. Get a free quote from one or more professional property managers by clicking the below button and learn why 75% of all homeowner associations use their services.
One of the consistent issues plaguing condominium associations is that of unapproved hardwood floors. Often installed in an attempt not only to improve or beautify the unit, but also help alleviate dust allergies. However, when installed over a lower floor unit, they can lead to conflict about increased noise. In the case of Ryland Mews Homeowners Association v. Munoz (2015), 234 Cal. App. 4th 705, the appellate court affirms an association’s right to require prior community association approval before installation of the floors.
The Ryland Mews court further found that, even in the case of hardwood floors installed to combat dust allergies, the increased noise resulting from the removal of carpeting and installation of hardwood floors constituted a nuisance to the residents of the lower floors, justifying the granting of a preliminary injunction which required the installing owner to place throw rugs over much of the flooring.
In Ryland Mews, the CC&Rs restricted owners from altering units in “any manner that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining or other Unit, including, but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering that increases sound transmission to any lower Unit.” In addition, the CC&Rs stated that owners could not cause a nuisance.
When defendant Ruben Munoz moved into an upper floor unit, he replaced the carpets with hardwood floors to accommodate his wife’s severe dust allergy without seeking architectural approval from the Association. After the installation, the occupants of the unit below began to experience “sound transfer” through the floor, which they had not previously experienced. In fact, they claimed that, after the hardwood floor was installed, the noise from upstairs at all hours of the day and night became “greatly amplified and intolerable,” so that lower floor residents “found it difficult to relax, read a book, watch television, or sleep.”
Ryland Mews Homeowners Association filed suit for violation of the CC&Rs, and sought an injunction and declaratory relief. The Association alleged that Munoz had violated the restrictions applicable to all residents at the time of the floor installation, and that the hardwood floors created an acoustic nuisance, violating the neighboring owner’s sense of quiet enjoyment and also “reducing property values for all owners within the Association.” In opposing the motion, Munoz contended that hardwood floors were necessary in his home because his wife was severely allergic to dust. Consequently, removing the floors and installing new floors not only would be expensive but would endanger his wife’s health.
Relying on the restrictions against nuisance, and the restriction obligating owners to seek prior approval of improvements, the appellate court held that it was within the trial court’s discretion to reject Munoz’s argument and grant a preliminary injunction that required Munoz to install throw rugs over 80% of the floor area (excluding the kitchen and bathrooms) pending Munoz’s submission of a proposal for modification to the existing floor covering, which was to be “within the specific approved guidelines and specifications for floor covering modifications established by the Association.”
It is interesting that the defendant unit owner did not specifically refer to a Fair Housing Act accommodation requirement in their argument against issuance of a preliminary injunction. It is also interesting to note the preliminary injunction issued by the court required that the unit owner submit proposed mitigation measures to satisfy guidelines of the Association not in effect at the time of installation of the hardwood floor improvements.
In an unrelated issue, the court also rejected Munoz’s argument that the Association’s failure to serve him with a copy of the entire article of the Civil Code comprising the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provisions applicable to common interest developments should have resulted in the dismissal of the action. The Court stated that the failure to serve the complete article was not prejudicial to Munoz where the Association did serve him with a copy of the statute requiring the Association to serve him with a copy of the entire article, Mr. Munoz never complained that he had not received the entire article until after expiration of the 30-day period for a homeowner to accept or reject the ADR request, and there was no evidence that the failure to provide the entire article caused any confusion about or misunderstanding of his rights.
While the Ryland Mews court did not require the removal of the hardwood flooring, in upholding the preliminary injunction requiring Munoz to comply with the Association’s guidelines, the appellate court reaffirms the right of an Association to seek legal remedies when hardwood floor installations cause a nuisance to neighboring units and there has not been prior architectural approval.
Mr. DeNichilo is partner in the law firm Nordberg|DeNichilo, LLP, and specializes in representing homeowners associations throughout Southern California. He is an active member of CAI, and serves on the Legislative Support Committee of the Greater Inland Empire Chapter, acts as current co-chair of the Orange County Chapter’s Legislative Support Committee and is the chapter’s liaison to CLAC. He is a frequent speaker at industry and management company educational events. DeNichilo publishes a blog on association related topics at HOABrief.com. For more information, please visit NDHOALaw.com