Q: I am in dispute with my association. The original doors to the exterior of my condo have extensive dry rot. I have read the association’s matrix regarding the issue of liability, and I believe it spells it out clearly, but my claim for redress has been denied. Is it the association’s responsibility to repair and/or maintain?
—RM, Coto de Caza
A: Article 4775 of the Civil Code assigns responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the HOA, stating that, unless otherwise specified in the incorporation documents, the HOA repairs the common space and the common space for exclusive use and the owners keep their common space elements for exclusive use. While the governing documents do not refer to entrance doors, the Civil Code Section 4145(b) definition of “common area for exclusive use” includes “exterior doors, door frames, and hardware therefor.” Thus, if the governing documents are silent, the HOA should repair the damaged entry doors (assuming the owner did not cause the damage).
Maintenance matrices are an increasingly popular tool for guiding maintenance and repair responsibility for listed items. These are essentially attorneys’ opinions in tabular form, and the governing documents and articles of association always take precedence in the event of a conflict. Sometimes I find errors in a matrix prepared by someone else. However, corrections do not require a vote of the board or members – just send a corrected version to the members.
Q: I have been in contact with our manager several times regarding the cleanliness of the pools here, but nothing is happening. Several residents are very upset and say they have had this problem here for a very long time. Who do I contact if property management is not listening?
— AF, valley of the fountain
A: Normally, your manager follows the directions of the board. If there is a problem with the association’s pool cleaning supplier, bring it to the attention of the board in an open forum. If enough landlords agree with you and council doesn’t seem to be listening, consider collecting a petition to demonstrate that you’re not the only one with this concern. Hope this helps the council see that there is a problem with the supplier. Never try to personally intervene with the seller, but rather let the board ask the manager to handle the problem.
Q: Our HOA is considering no longer paying to cover slab leaks. Most of our units have had a slab leak before, but mine didn’t. I have faithfully paid my monthly fee for many years to cover slab leaks and now find that I may not be covered anymore. It doesn’t seem fair. What can I do?
— CB, San-Pedro
A: To reallocate repair responsibilities, the CC&Rs would need to be amended; since any deviation from Civil Code 4775 repair and maintenance allowances must be noted in the CC&R. Changing the CC&Rs on this would require a member vote, allowing you to oppose it.
Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a member of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a partner at Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for its advice to community associations. Submit your questions to [email protected].