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The Reorganized Davis-Stirling Act: How it Benefits Community Association Members

January 28, 2014

As the presiding officer of my HOA’s Board of Directors, it’s important that I, along with my fellow board members, have a good understanding of the basic governance documents we draw upon. Including those such as our CC&Rs, our By-Laws, our Policies and Procedures, and especially an adequate understanding of the Davis-Stirling Act, which allow us to perform our fiduciary duties to the best of our abilities. Admittedly, there have been times in the past when we were challenged in trying to understand some of the contents of each of those documents, and even challenged sometimes with something as basic as the order in which their contents are arranged.

We were able to manage, change the order and content of our CC&Rs, By-Laws, and Policies and Procedures because they “belonged” to us. However, we could not alter the primary governing document for community associations – the Davis-Stirling Act – which defines, regulates and helps HOAs to understand California law as it applies to our community associations, thus helping us to better govern our HOAs.

Going back to its inception almost 30 years ago, the Davis-Stirling Act has gone through several important revisions, with the most recent update making it significantly easier for board members to comprehend and use as a reference tool. Based on a more simplistic, yet logical organizational design of its contents, the Davis-Stirling Act has quickly proven to be an easy-to-read reference document, as well as an excellent guide to administering the best possible governance of our HOA by my board. Ultimately, we, as directors, along with our 10,000+ residents who reside here, reap the benefits of all the work put into the latest revision to the Davis-Stirling Act, by embracing the use of a much better-written and organized document. We graciously thank the California Law Revision Commission for their tireless work in this effort and producing such a valuable document. A complete history of the CLRC’s review and recommendations can be found here.

The CLRC’s re-write of the Davis-Stirling Act was intended to provide the following benefits to homeowners who are members of community associations:

  1. Related topics were grouped together to make them easier to find and use.  For example, annual disclosure requirements were previously found at various locations throughout the Act in Sections 1363.005, 1365, 1365.5, 1365.2.5, 1363.05, 1363.850, 1369.590, 1378, 1365.1, and 1363. These disclosures are now found all together in Sections 5300 to 5320.
  2. Sections that were confusing were revised for clarity, without changing their substance.
  3. Sections that were excessively long were divided into shorter sections.
  4. Terminology was standardized and simplified. For example, a “meeting of the board of directors of the association” has been changed to “board meeting.”
  5. Substantive improvements were made, but are primarily considered minor and non-controversial. The new Act:establishes a hierarchy for the authority of the governing documents;extends the right to owners to make certain modifications to the home to accommodate a disability;
    • establishes a list of conflicts of interest that disqualify board members from voting on certain matters;
    • revises and clarifies provisions regarding notice and delivery both from the association to its members, and from the members to the association;
    • extends ballot retention following an election from 9 to 12 months (and so now is consistent with the timeframe in which an owner may contest an election);
    • adds governing documents to the definition of “association records” which a member has the right to request;
    • requires whenever an association has recorded an assessment lien in error, the association must release the lien and reverse all costs, fees and interest;
    • requires the board have a hearing before charging a member with the cost of damage to the common area caused by the member;
    • expands the court’s discretion to consider a party’s refusal to participate in alternative dispute resolution so that it applies to any enforcement action in which fees and costs may be awarded; and
    • confirms the association is not required to reimburse the member for temporary housing if the owner is dislodged due to common area repairs.

The new Act is found at Civil Code Sections 4000-6150. To download a free Conversion Chart, comparing the old Act to the new, click here. Visit www.caiclac.com to download our new Davis-Stirling Act Toolkit.

Robert Riddick is a retired IT executive who, upon retirement, became involved in his HOA as a way of “giving back” to his community. Currently his HOA’s president, Robert joined the board in 2007 and previously served as treasurer and vice president. In addition, he is a past president of the Greater Inland Empire chapter of CAI, being the first homeowner board member in 24 years to serve as chapter president. He is currently also serving his fifth year as a board member of CAI-GRIE and is the current chair for the chapter’s Legislative Support Committee (LSC), as well as the chapter’s CLAC liaison. Over the past two years, Robert served as a member of the CAI National Board of Trustees and is currently serving his fourth year as a member of the CAI National Community Association Volunteer Committee (CAVC). He earned his CMCA designation in 2011 and he was inducted into the CAI-GRIE Hall of Fame in 2013. Robert is a veteran of the USAF, an avid boxing fan, and a year-round boater.

Head-Shot - June 2011-3

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