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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