Titleholders can no longer orally demand certain documents and/or other items from their association's board; many requests must now be delivered in writing.
By Donie Vanitzian
February 9, 2014
QUESTION: I've lived in my homeowner association nearly 20 years and still can't get the board to change my information for receiving notices of meetings to the proper address. They just keep ignoring me. I've called and left messages to no avail. What can I do to get them to recognize my calls?
ANSWER: Beginning Jan. 1, titleholders were no longer able to orally request certain documents and/or other items from their association's board. The new Civil Code section 4035 details how documents must be delivered to an association for such requests to be effective. Another new Civil Code section 5260 states that any of the following requests shall be delivered in writing to the association:
•A request to change the owner's information in the association membership list.
•A request to add or remove a second address for delivery of individual notices to the owner, pursuant to Civil Code section 4040(b), which pertains to individual delivery or individual notice.
•A request for individual delivery of general notices to the owner, pursuant to Civil Code section 4045(b), or a request to cancel a prior request for individual delivery of general notices. Civil Code section 4045 pertains to general delivery or general notice.
•A request to opt out of the membership list pursuant to Civil Code section 5220, or a request to cancel a prior request to opt out of the membership list. Civil Code section 5220 pertains to information sharing and opting out.
•A request to receive a full copy of a specified annual budget report or annual policy statement pursuant to Civil Code section 5320, which pertains to delivery of reports.
•A request to receive all reports in full, pursuant to Civil Code section 5320(b), or a request to cancel a prior request to receive all reports in full.
Caveat emptor: New buyers who close escrow after Jan. 1 should make these demands immediately and ensure they are on record by obtaining written confirmation from the board. It is entirely possible that by the time escrow closes, vital notices and other association-related information will not be immediately forthcoming.
Owners, too, are forewarned to immediately inform their boards in writing of their preferences and to not leave anything to chance. It is worth the peace of mind to do this now and not put it off. Do not make the mistake of assuming the association already has your information or that it, or a management company, will honor what is on file.
Send all such documents using a recognized method of tracking and signature receipt. Hang on to those tracking and signature receipts; you may need them later.
It should be noted that in the event the association's address on file for the owner is incorrect, the default mailing and notice address for the owner will probably be the titleholder's APN (Assessor Parcel Number) address for the property in that common interest development. If for some reason the APN shows an incorrect mailing address, the burden is on the owner to correct it in the public record.
Make all communications with the association in writing and delivered in a manner that enables you to track and confirm receipt.
Owners should be careful of what they write and how they write it. Stick to the facts and keep your emotions out of it lest the board feel you are threatening it. Do not leave communications "open-ended." Give the board a reasonable deadline to respond.
If you feel the need to use strong language to get your point across, hire an attorney to use legally strong language or to buffer the problem.
Zachary Levine, partner at Wolk & Levine, a business and intellectual property law firm, co-wrote this column. Vanitzian is an arbitrator and mediator. Send questions to Donie Vanitzian JD, P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.