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AB-349 Would Allow HOA Homeowners to Install Artificial Turf

July 2, 2015 Leave a comment

AB-349 which was approved by the Assembly but is still going thru the Senate committee review process, would amend Civil Code Section 4735 again.  The existing law in part prohibits a Homeowner’s Association (“HOA”), except an HOA that uses recycled water for landscape irrigation, from imposing a fine or assessment on owners for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency or the local government has declared a local emergency due to drought.

This bill amends the law further, to make void and unenforceable any provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibits use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.  The bill makes sense in this extended drought, to approve of another method for homeowners to save water.

– All Rights Reserved © 2015 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

Contractor Problem? Remember the License Bond as Security.

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

For homeowner’s damaged by a home improvement contractor working on their their primary residence, don’t forget their License Bond as security.  For these homeowner’s, the available License Bond proceeds are the full sum of the bond or $12,500.00.  The legislature should probably at least double this bond amount, but for now this is the limit.  There are a few other categories of claimants who can pursue that full License Bond sum, such as unpaid employees of the contractor.  But a more common example, is the homeowner who hires a home improvement contractor, who abandons the job half way to completion or who causes more damage then they are fixing!  Keep in mind, this can be a contractor of different trades such as roofer, plumber or painter.  See, B&P Code Section 7071.5 and 7071.6 for more details.  If you need to pursue such a claim, call an experienced Construction Law Attorney.

– All Rights Reserved © 2015 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

Short Term Rental Legislation in San Francisco

February 2, 2015 Leave a comment

New legislation in the City and County of San Francisco is taking effect that allows qualified residents to legally rent their units through the Short-Term Residential Rental Registry via the San Francisco Planning Department.  San Francisco Ordinance No. 218-14 was signed to amend the Administrative and Planning Codes to allow permanent residents of residential properties to conduct short-term rentals.  This essentially attempts to legalize what has already been an ongoing practice via services like AirBnB.

Eligible property owners and tenants can now apply to place their permanent residence on the Short-Term Residential Rental Registry.  Residents may not legally rent their unit (in its entirety or a portion of) as a short-term residential rental until they have received a Short-Term Rental Registration number from the Planning Department.  With a valid Short-Term Residential Registration Number, residents may rent their permanent residential unit for periods of less than 30 nights under certain conditions without violating Chapter 41A of the Administrative Code (the Residential Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance) or the Planning Code.  This includes renting a portion of their unit while they are also present for an unlimited number of nights per year, or renting all or a portion of their unit while they are not present, for a maximum of 90 nights per year.  Tenants are prohibited from making more than their monthly rent from fees charged to their guests.  For more information, see the full Press Release from the Planning Department.

– All Rights Reserved © 2015 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

Prohibiting Certain Fines on Members during a Drought.

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

A homeowners association or HOA is no longer allowed to impose fines against members who reduce or even eliminate watering their lawns during a declared state of emergency due to drought, despite any provision in the association’s governing documents to the contrary. Recent bills have amended Civil Code Section 4735 of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, which originally prohibited an association’s regulation of low-water using plants as a group and water-efficient landscaping. The latest change is in a subsection (subsection (c)), which prohibits an association from imposing fines against members who reduce or eliminate watering of vegetation and lawns during any period for which the Governor or a local government has declared a state of emergency due to drought. Section 4735 can be found below, with the amended subsection in Bold. As this drought continues and we are under a declared state of emergency statewide, Boards of Directors and property managers should think twice before fining members who stop watering their lawns or landscaping.

Civil Code Section 4735:

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, a provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies shall be void and unenforceable if it does any of the following:

(1) Prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of low water-using plants as a group or as a replacement of existing turf.

(2) Has the effect of prohibiting or restricting compliance with either of the following:

(A) A water-efficient landscape ordinance adopted or in effect pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 65595 of the Government Code.

(B) Any regulation or restriction on the use of water adopted pursuant to Section 353 or 375 of the Water Code.

(b) This section shall not prohibit an association from applying landscaping rules established in the governing documents, to the extent the rules fully conform with subdivision (a).

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, an association, except an association that uses recycled water, as defined in Section 13050 of the Water Code, for landscaping irrigation, shall not impose a fine or assessment against an owner of a separate interest for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which either of the following have occurred:

(1) The Governor has declared a state of emergency due to drought pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8558 of the Government Code.

(2) A local government has declared a local emergency due to drought pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 8558 of the Government Code.

– All Rights Reserved © 2014 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

HOA’s Should Not Fine for Water Conservation!

September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

In another year of severe drought, California faces a historic water shortage and wildfire danger. Matters are expected to worsen, as California’s rainfall and water supply has been dwindling. In response Governor Brown signed an Emergency Drought Proclamation in January 2014 declaring a state of emergency and calling upon all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent. Some residents of homeowners associations (“HOAs”) began responding to the Governor’s plea by reducing their irrigation, only to find themselves subject to HOA fines for failure to maintain their yards.

In partial response, in April Governor Jerry Brown signed an Executive Order which effectively prohibits HOAs from fining, or threatening to fine, homeowners “who comply with water conservation measures.” The Order further provides that “any provision of the governing document, architectural or landscaping guidelines, or policies of a common interest development will be void and unenforceable to the extent it has the effect of prohibiting compliance with the water-saving measures contained in this directive.” One of these water-saving measures is to limit outdoor watering to no more than twice per week. The California Legislature has also considered various bills to address the drought conditions and HOAs, and we will report on each of these bills in future law blog updates. For now, AB 2100 (Campos) would prohibit HOAs from imposing a fine or assessment against a member for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during a Governor-declared state of emergency, or a local government-declared emergency, due to drought.  AB 2100 was approved by the Governor on July 21, 2014 and is effective immediately, and has amended Civil Code Section 4735 accordingly.  If you are involved in an HOA and have a legal issue, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

– All Rights Reserved © 2014 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

Architects owe a Duty of Care to Future Homeowners

July 7, 2014 Leave a comment

In Beacon Residential Community Assoc. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (No. S208173), the California Supreme Court expanded the potential liability of architects who are the primary designers of a residential building, typically a condominium development.  The Supreme Court held that an architect owes a duty of care to future homeowners in the design of a residential building where, the architect is a principal architect on the project, that is, the architect, in providing professional design services, is not subordinate to other design professionals. The duty of care extends to such architects even when they do not actually build the project or exercise ultimate control over construction.

– All Rights Reserved © 2014 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

9th Circuit Confirms that False Advertising is Distinct from Trademark Infringement

March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

In Wells Fargo Company USA v. v. ABD Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. (No. 13–15625) the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals found an abuse of discretion when a U.S. District Court denied a request for a preliminary injunction. Held, the District Court abused its discretion when it did not separately consider the false advertisement claim. The District Court’s review was under the basis that it found false advertisement to be “derivative of Wells Fargo’s trademark infringement claim.” However, The 9th Circuit found that the two claims are in fact distinct, and require the application of separate tests.

– All Rights Reserved © 2014 by Michael L. Mau, Esq. and The Mau Law Firm

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