Frequently Asked Questions
A homeowner's association, also known as a common interest development (CID), is a non-profit corporation, controlled by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by the members of the Association. Their duty is to protect and maintain the community assets, and to equitably enforce the governing documents. The benefit to these restrictions is a protection of your property values through a system of self-governance.
The association's governing documents include the Articles of Incorporation; Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R's); Bylaws; Association Rules; and, Architectural Guidelines.
Articles of Incorporation - The Articles state the name of the Association and the purpose for which it was formed.
CC&R's - The CC&R's provide information on each homeowner's property rights and obligations to the association and the association's responsibilities to the homeowners. It also details the duty of the association to collect assessments, insurance requirements, restrictions on use of the property, and architectural control issues. The CC&R's may outline the method for amending provisions of the document by the vote of the homeowners.
Bylaws - Your association may be incorporated as a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation. As such, the Bylaws establish the rules by which the corporation will be operated. They set forth how members vote for the Board of Directors, describe the election and term of office of directors, and detail the board's powers and duties. The Bylaws also contain information on meetings of the members of the association.
Rules and Regulations - The Board of Directors has the authority to make and enforce rules that regulate behavior. Associations frequently have rules that address such activities as use of common area, parking, posting signs, and pet control. Rules and regulations are just as enforceable in an association as the CC&R's, Bylaws, and applicable laws.
Architectural Guidelines - In addition to the provisions in the CC&R's, your association has architectural standards that must be followed if you want to make any modifications or improvements to the exterior of your home or to your property.
There are also State and Federal laws and statues applicable to living in your community. These include California Civil Code 4000 - 6150 (the Davis-Stirling Act), California Corporations law, Federal laws on Bankruptcy, Telecommunications, and Fair Debt collection.
Generally, the rights of the owners include:
- The right to vote to elect or recall the Board of Directors in accordance with the governing documents;
- The right to vote to amend the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and CC&R's;
- The right to be elected to the Board of Directors; and,
- The right of access to certain documents of the association.
Fairly simple, isn't it? The volunteer Board of Directors that you elect operates the corporation on your behalf.
Can you participate in the board meeting? Yes... and no. The meetings are open to all members of the association and you do have the right to speak at these meetings. Only the board members, however, have the authority to vote on the matters set before them.
Each association has operating expenses that include common area maintenance, utilities, insurance, legal costs, management fees, and reserves for repair and replacement. Income to cover the expenses is collected as an assessment, which represents each owner's share of their financial obligation to the association. Assessments are normally collected monthly, in 12 equal installments. The assessment level is set by the Board of Directors who adopt a budget and distribute it to the members each year.
Generally speaking, yes. Each association has guidelines that you must follow in order to ensure the modifications comply with the architectural standards. If you plan to make improvements to the exterior of your home or to any portion of your property, you are required to first apply for and receive the written approval of your association's Architectural Control Committee. It is vitally important that you submit your application well in advance of the date intended start date of the work. The Southern Oaks documents state that the Architectural Control Committee may have up to 45 days from the date it receives your application to render its decision. Failure to obtain approval prior to making the modifications may result in additional costs to you and may result in an order to remove the unapproved modifications.
Insurance requirements vary according to your property type and governing documents. In order to protect your interests in the association, your association may purchase any or all of the following types of insurance:
- Property Damage (fire)
- General liability (common area injuries)
- Directors & Officers (questionable business judgments by your Board)
- Workers compensation (protects against financial liability caused by injury to employees, board members or volunteers)
- Fidelity Bond (protects against theft of association monies)
- Earthquake Insurance (optional)
Write to your Board members through the management group. All letters addressed to the Board of Directors are included in the report sent to the Board members before each meeting. The agenda is set by the Board President, working with the Community Association Manager. Items can also be added to future agendas by the Board, during their regularly scheduled meetings.
The homeowner services department processes common area service requests for common area amenities. These can include landscaping, pools & spas, tennis courts, and lighting.
The procedure when a service request is received is as follows:
- Our Homeowner Services Department or the Community Association Manager will inform the homeowner/resident what steps will be taken in order to handle the request. This will include who will be contacted to complete the request (example: Landscaper or Pool Maintenance firm.), and the expected timeframe to handle the request.
- A work order will then be generated, which is emailed to the proper vendor.
The monthly assessment covers the operation, maintenance and repairs for which the association is obligated, per the governing documents. Items such as insurance, taxes, water, electricity, landscaping services, janitorial and even pest control are just a few of the items that could be covered by assessments. Assessments also cover the funding of reserves which are applied to future repair or replacement of major components for which the association is responsible, such as roofing and painting in a condominium project, pool/spa resurfacing, and clubhouse refurbishment in a planned unit development. Details for your association can be found in the budget, which is mailed to all homeowners annually.
Every person owning a unit or lot within a community association automatically becomes a member of the association and is required to pay the monthly assessment. Non-payment could result in a lien against the home, and eventually foreclosure.
Yes, and over time it likely will increase due to inflation. The Board of Directors may not increase the regular assessment more than 20 percent per year without the approval of the owners. There are also provisions in the governing documents and/or CC&Rs allowing the Board to increase the assessment more than 20 percent and/or levy a special assessment without member approval in cases of emergency, such as an extraordinary or unexpected expense for repairs to the common area.
Please make all checks payable to name of the association(s) in which you reside. The mailing address for your association is printed on your payment coupons or monthly statement.
Assessment payments are due on the first of the month and delinquent on the 15th, unless your governing documents are more lenient. Please review your Associations Delinquency Policy which is mailed annually with the Association Budget. Please be aware that you will be charged late fees, collection fees, and interest if you do not pay your assessment on time.
Yes, you can pay your bill at our office during business hours. Please note that we cannot accept cash payments at our office due to banking regulations.
Yes! Valencia Management Group offers a no cost Auto Debit program, which will automatically transfer your assessment payment from your checking account on the 8th of each month. In order to take advantage of this program, please follow the directions on the Payments page.
Yes, please follow this link to Property Pay. There is a small fee charged by First Citizens Bank for this service.
Once a year, the association will send each owner a copy of the billing procedure and delinquency policy that will tell you that the association has the right to assess interest and collection costs, including legal fees, on the balance that is owed and unpaid. The matter may be referred to the association's attorney if the balance exceeds three months unpaid assessments. The association has a right to lien your property for the amounts owed as well as the collection costs. Ultimately, the association can foreclose and take your property for your failure to pay assessments. A personal judgment may also be entered against you. Owners who do not pay their assessments in a timely manner may put the association in financial jeopardy if it is not able to pay its bills.
The Organizational hierarchy of an association consists of:
- Board of Directors establishes policies and procedures.
- Homeowners are responsible for paying assessments, voting in elections, and complying with the governing documents.
- Management Company executes policies and procedures as established by the Board of Directors.
- Committees research and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who then makes the final decision, i.e. Newsletter Committee, Architectural Committee, Rules Committee and Grounds Committee.
- Sub-Contractors are professionals hired by the Board to perform services for the association. The Management Company oversees the sub-contractors.
- The Auditors work independent of the Board of Directors and the Management Company in order to provide a fair and impartial audit and/or review of your association's finances. The audit or review is mailed to all homeowners annually in accordance with California Civil Code requirements.
Professional association management provides expert guidance to the volunteer Board of Directors in the operation and management of your community's assets. While the Board of Directors is responsible to conduct the business of the corporation, they may delegate to management the authority to carry out the day-to-day operation of the association. The scope of services provided by a managing agent will vary based on the needs of each association. Contractual management duties may include preparation of financial statements, collection of assessments, coordination with maintenance contractors, and solicitation of bid proposals.
Valencia Management Group is a separate business enterprise hired to act as an agent of the association. We are not affiliated with any builder or developer, nor are we connected to any vendors that provide services to the association, whether they are maintenance, landscape or other service contractors. The management staff consists of certified community association managers, each of whom have achieved both national and state-recognized designations. These designations help ensure that the manager working for your association has the knowledge, experience and integrity to provide the best possible service to your board of directors and to your association. The firm is bonded and a CPA is one of the principals.
A general rule of thumb is to call the entity that you pay for the service.
- If you pay for the service directly, such as a water bill, call the provider.
- If you pay for the service through your property taxes, call the local City or County government.
- If the item is on the Association's budgets, such as pool maintenance, please e-mail, call, or write to the management office.
Rules & Enforcement
Most associations have developed Rules and Regulations as provided for in the CC&R's and adopted by the Board of Directors. Rules are established to provide direction to the homeowners for common courtesies with regard to parking, vehicles, pets and pool use hours, etc. In addition, your Association will adopt Architectural Guidelines with procedures for submitting requests to make exterior changes to your home. Such changes may include patio covers, decks, landscaping, exterior color changes or additions.
These rules and guidelines are set up to maintain the aesthetic value and integrity of the community on behalf of all owners, and hopefully protect the market value of your investment as well. Violations of these rules may result in action by the Board of Directors and a fine. In addition, if you proceed with an exterior improvement or change, without written approval of the Board of Directors, or Architectural Committee, as applicable, you may be required to remove or correct the alteration and/or be fined for the violation.
The Association, through the Board of Directors, has the responsibility to enforce the governing documents. Typically, the Board of Directors will adopt a policy for enforcement that may include disciplinary action, including the levy of fines, to force compliance. California laws allow the association or an owner to file a lawsuit asking the court to enforce the CC&Rs. With some exceptions, the law requires that either the owner or the association must offer to engage in some form of alternative dispute resolution before filing a lawsuit.
Over 90% of the issues fall in to the following categories:
- Maintenance - painting, roofing, and yard care are the most common.
- Improvements without application - remember all exterior improvements must be submitted to the Architectural Control Committee, through the management firm, and written approval must be obtained prior to beginning a project.
- Vehicles - recreational and commercial vehicles may be prohibited in your association. Oil stains can also be a compliance issue.
- Pets - noise, clean-up, or exceeding the number of pets allowed per household.
- Non-compliance reports, whether from Homeowners, Residents, Board or Committee members, must be in writing and include the following:
- Name, address, and signature (except on e-mails) of the complaining party
- Nature of the non-compliance in as much detail as possible
- Address of the home in non-compliance along with dates and times
Every effort will be made to verify complaints prior to sending correspondence to a homeowner, however, if enforcement actions lead to a hearing the complaining party may be required to appear as a witness.
Is your question not answered here? Contact VMG and we'll be happy to help.