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Residents of California who live in a neighborhood that is managed by a homeowners association (HOA) are now being introduced to HOA inspections. Pursuant to a new California law, SB 323, HOAs now need to go through an election process to select new board members. Prior to January 2020, when this new law went into effect, board directors in homeowners associations could be appointed in a number of ways. And as you can guess, this has lead to a bit of favoritism and in some cases nepotism.

Favoritism On HOA Boards in California

In Sacramento and beyond, HOA groups were free to appoint whomever they wanted into board decisions. The problem with this model and why a new law had to come into play is that board directors would hire friends or family as maintenance workers. For instance, for an HOA in Fair Oaks, the group was accused by its residents of hiring friends to manage landscaping. Residents of the neighborhood were reportedly paying high fees to the HOA, while the landscaping service was being heavily discounted for the board. This then brings up the question of “where does the money go?”

This type of favoritism is what has caused the state to pass a law for new California HOA elections.

The Need for An Election Process

It’s clear that the old system was broken and is why the senate passed a new bill. This new bill has also created the demand for election inspectors. These inspectors help vet the process and ensure there is no favoritism at play. For homeowners who belong to an HOA, this also helps them understand where the funds are going. Instead of wondering what they pay into each month, they will know exactly who is in charge of what and what exactly they are paying for.

An election process will also help make the process based on votes rather than just appointing someone. As long as the homeowners prefer a certain candidate and vote for them, they can be elected to the board to make decisions for the association.

Information for Homeowners

Thankfully for California homeowners, there is nothing you need to immediately do. Your existing HOA will inform you of when the election is coming up and advise you on the steps you need to take. You’re encouraged to vet the candidates on your own as they will be responsible for your HOA’s decision making.

Information for HOAs

Existing homeowners association directors need to seek out an election inspector to help with the entire process. Failure to do so could result in consequences from the state of California. While this is a new law and there are only a few election inspectors available at the moment, you may also want contact a legal representative who can advise on the law and the process required to elect new board members. We recommend taking a look at the Law Office of Don Padou.

Changes to the Law

As with most laws in California, it’s anticipated there will be changes to SB-323. To stay current with the law and an updates, be sure to check out the state website on a routine basis.

By David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez is a local real estate agent and contributor to 916 Journal. Look for David's posts about business topics.

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