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•   Homeowner Association Attorneys

•   Davis - Stirling Attorneys

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Michael T. Chulak & Associates, a Law Corporation has extensive experience in homeowner association law including all aspects of the Davis-Stirling Act. We represent homeowner associations as well as members of community associations who have a legal claim against their HOA.  Our homeowner association lawyers provide services throughout California including the following areas:
Costa Mesa Mission Viejo Seal Beach
Newport Beach Laguna Niguel Gordon Grove
Irvine San Juan Capistrano • Anaheim
San Clemente Rancho Santa Margarita • Orange
• Laguna Hills Lake Forest Santa Ana
Anaheim Hills Huntington Beach Fullerton
Buena Park Fountain Valley Tustin




  • CC&R and Bylaw revisions, interpretations and enforcement

  • Legal compliance with Davis-Stirling and governing documents

  • Construction defect mediations and litigation

  • Employment and independent contractor law

  • Construction and repair contracts

  • Insurance claims, bad faith

  • Mediations, arbitrations, ADR

  • HOA Collections, lien service, foreclosures

  • Opinion letters

  • Attendance at board meetings, elections, Pledge by Nominee for Election to BOD

  • Civil litigation, including partition actions

  • Nuisances and restraining orders, dog bites

  • Free homeowner association legal seminars for management companies and community associations

  • Special meetings to recall the board of directors

  • Earthquake damage claims and repairs

  • Water Intrusion and Mold Claims

  • Developer Fraud

  • Cooperatives

  • Condominium Conversions

  • Failed Developments

  • Cease and Desist Letters




The HOA attorneys at Michael T. Chulak & Associates welcome the opportunity to meet with the Board of Directors of any homeowner association for a no charge, no obligation consultation regarding any legal issue. This provides the Board an opportunity to ask questions and evaluate our legal expertise and approach to solving problems. We have represented hundreds of homeowner associations throughout California over many years and would appreciate the opportunity of working with your association.

In order to keep our clients informed of the constantly changing laws affecting homeowner associations, we offer free HOA legal seminars throughout California for property management companies, directors of homeowner associations and members of homeowner associations. We also provide career training for individuals wanting a career in homeowner association management: HOACareers.com. Visit HOA Attorneys to view a summary of Homeowner Association Attorney areas of practice and Why Homeowner Associations Get Into Trouble.


     

    HOA Attorney Seminars

    Michael T. Chulak & Associates offers free homeowner association legal seminars throughout California .

    Topics covered:

    • New laws


    • Duties of board members


    • Amending your governing documents


    • Collection alternatives


    • CC&R enforcement


    • Construction defects and mold


    • Mediations, arbitrations, litigation


    • Nuisances and restraining orders


    • Meetings and election procedures


    • Legal compliance


    • Davis-Stirling Act


    • Satellite Dish Antenna Rules


     

    Who should attend:

    • Board members


    • Homeowners


    • Property managers


    • Real estate agents


    • Loan agents and brokers

     

    There is always a question and answer session. Valuable handouts are provided.

    Make reservations now; seating is limited. Call (818) 991-9019 or view schedule of seminars and register online. Schedule is updated monthly.

    Another Alternative...

    Arrange a Private Free Homeowner Association Legal Seminar

    You can arrange a private, free homeowner association seminar for your homeowner association, real estate brokerage office or other similar group anywhere in Los Angeles or Ventura counties by calling (818) 991-9019 or via email. We ask that a minimum of 15 people attend.

    Why CC&Rs Must Be Updated

    The Perfect Analogy

Imagine you are driving down a highway when you see a 70 MPH highway sign. You are driving exactly 70 MPH. A CHP officer pulls you over and states that he stopped you for speeding.

You explain that you were traveling 70 MPH and that the sign posted states Maximum Speed 70 MPH. The CHP officer then explains that the sign is wrong because the law previously reduced the maximum speed to 60 MPH, and consequently, you broke the law. Therefore, you must accept the consequences!

No rational person would accept the situation described above as being reasonable or just. The reason is clear - the driver reasonably assumed he could rely on the posted sign and is being punished because he did what appeared to be reasonable.

Ask Yourself - who relies on your CC&Rs?

The following:

  • Every member of your board of directors


  • Every member of your homeowner association


  • Potential buyers of homes located within your homeowner association


  • Your management company


  • Renters living in your community


Ask Yourself  - What is the result if your Association's CC&Rs do not reflect the current law?  Will someone end up like the driver described above?

Remember - the Davis - Stirling Act which is the primary body of homeowner association law (and the basis of your CC&Rs) was adopted in 1985 and has been revised every year since that date.

Ask Yourself: Are your homeowner association's CC&Rs misleading the following:

  • Every member of your board of directors


  • Every member of your homeowner association


  • Potential buyers of homes located within your homeowner association


  • Your management company


  • Renters living in your community

 

For a no cost initial consultation, call us today.

 

Can't Afford Restated or Amended CC&Rs?

Q: Our homeowner association is relatively small and can't afford to restate or amend its CC&Rs even though they are obsolete. Do we have any options?

A: Yes. For a substantially reduced fee, we can review your CC&Rs and provide your HOA with a  CC&R Advisory that can be distributed to the members of your homeowner association and attached to the association's CC&Rs.

The CC&R Advisory is not a restatement or amendment and is not recorded. It does not have to be approved by the membership of your association. The CC&R Advisory is a legal opinion setting forth a summary of the major changes to the law enacted since your CC&Rs were approved and recorded. While not as beneficial as a restatement of your CC&Rs, it provides a valuable service at less than 20% of the cost.

 

Amend Your CC&Rs - $300

 

HOA Assessment Collections

Michael T. Chulak and Associates represents homeowner associations throughout California in collecting delinquent assessments. No initial fee or deposit is required. While our collection procedures rarely require us to proceed to foreclosure, our firm uses the judicial foreclosure process exclusively when it becomes necessary. Only a law firm can foreclose judicially. Lien services may not use the courts and are required to foreclose non-judicially. We believe the judicial foreclosure process is superior because a deficiency judgment is possible to obtain and the threat of a lawsuit tends to force the debtor into an early resolution.

 

No Initial Fee Assessment Collections

Judicial Foreclosure Service

The "No Initial Fee Assessment Collection Service" offered by Michael T. Chulak & Associates provides the following benefits to homeowner associations:

  • No up front fees or deposit is required. All fees and costs are billed directly to the delinquent homeowner.


  • Unlike lien services that offer non-judicial foreclosure services, the judicial foreclosure procedure we utilize, provides two ways to collect delinquent assessments. First, a judicial foreclosure permits the association to force the sale of the property if payment is not made. Secondly, a money judgment permits the association to seize wages, accounts receivable, bank accounts, stock and other property. Thus, the judicial foreclosure procedure substantially increases the chances of your association collecting delinquent assessments as compared to the non-judicial procedure used by lien services.


  • The collection results obtained by starting the judicial foreclosure process are excellent. The threat of a lawsuit is very intimidating, resulting in most debtors paying their delinquent assessments quickly.


  • Our assessment collection service is attorney supervised. Thus, we make certain that the collection process fully complies with the California Civil Code, the Federal Fair Debit Collections Practices Act and your association's CC&Rs.


You may ask: Why do lien services use the non-judicial foreclosure process to collect delinquent assessments? The answer: Only attorneys can practice law by filing lawsuits and using the courts.

If your association is experiencing delinquent assessments, call us today for a no cost consultation.

 

Owner Claims Against HOA

The most common claim made by the owners of condominium units against their homeowner associations is that their unit is experiencing water intrusion because the association has failed to maintain the common area. Generally, this involves leaking roofs, decks, planters, walls, and windows, and often improper slopes and drainage. When a condominium unit owner makes a claim against the association, it is generally because the statue of limitations has run and therefore a claim cannot be made against the developer of the condominium community.

When a condominium unit owner has exhausted his or her patience with the board and files a lawsuit against the association, (not the board), the association will almost always contact its insurance company. Assuming there is coverage, the insurance company will hire a law firm to represent the association and the law firm will hire any appropriate experts needed to investigate the situation and provide advice on how to remedy the problem.

As part of the process, the plaintiff's attorney will hire one or more experts to provide advice and repair cost estimates.

After all experts have completed their investigations, have developed a scope of repairs, and cost estimates, a mediation session will be arranged so that the parties can avoid further litigation and settle the matter short of going to court. In 99% of these matters, the dispute is settled in mediation.

Settlements usually, but not always, consist of the following:

The association agrees to repair the common area in a manner that is acceptable to the expert working for the plaintiff's attorney;
The association agrees to pay the plaintiff a dollar amount sufficient to make interior repairs and pay for loss of use; and
   
The association agrees to pay all of the plaintiff's attorney fees and costs.
   
Most importantly, depending upon the insurance coverage, the cost of settling the case will be paid in part or completely by the insurance company.
   

If you are a member of an association board, don't let this happen to your association. A competent management company combined with good legal advice can save your association thousands of dollars.

 

Construction Defect Seminars

Call to arrange a convenient time at your location.

Michael T. Chulak & Associates offers construction defect legal seminars to members of homeowner associations who believe their homes and/or association property has construction defects.

Topics covered:

  • Who is legally responsible for defective construction and mold.


  • What is included in the definition of construction defects.


  • How do we prove that construction is defective.


  • How much will it cost.


  • Legal representation on a contingency basis.


  • What must be disclosed.


  • What are the most common construction defects we find.


  • What happens if the developer has no money or files for bankruptcy.


  • What is the legal process including mediation, arbitration and litigation.


  • What options are available.

There is always a question and answer session designed to answer legal and construction questions.

 

Legal Review -

HOA Management Company Contracts - $150

Hiring an HOA management company is one of the most important and challenging decisions to be made by the board of directors of a homeowner association. We can assist your board make that decision by providing a legal review of the proposed property management agreement for any association located in California. For $150, we will do the following:

Review the proposed management agreement,
   
Advise you as to any provisions that should be added in our opinion,
   
Advise you as to any provisions that should be deleted in our opinion,
   
Advise you as to any modifications that we believe are appropriate, and
   
Advise you as to whether any of the proposed provisions fall materially outside the industry standard.
   

At the conclusion of our review, we will provide your board of directors with a letter outlining our findings and opinions.

We urge you to avoid signing a management agreement that you will regret at a future date. Spending $150 now may save your homeowner association thousands of dollars later.



Michael T. Chulak & Associates represents homeowner associations and property owners throughout California on a contingency basis in dealing with builders who are responsible for defective construction, including mold infestations. Generally, we can meet or beat the contingent fee percentages proposed by our competitors. We regularly advance all or some of the costs of litigation including expert fees.

Associations and property owners should know their legal rights and not be misled or intimidated when attempting to seek redress for construction defects. The attorneys with Michael T. Chulak & Associates are available to assist you in this regard. We are homeowner / consumer advocates.

Many homeowner associations and homeowners in California new home developments are finding that the common areas of their communities and their individual homes have construction defects which are not attributable to the lack of ordinary maintenance. These construction defects include roof leaks, deck leaks, mold infestations, deteriorating streets, improper drainage, structural failure, inadequate soil preparation, faulty electrical wiring, insufficient insulation and sound proofing, inadequate equipment, cracked slabs, peeling paint and other defects too numerous to list. The construction defects can be caused by poor design, poor construction, poor choice of materials or defective materials.

Nearly all CC&Rs impose upon homeowner associations the duty to maintain and repair the common areas. Legally, this duty includes paying for the correction of defective conditions, including those set forth above. These repairs, which can be quite expensive, can be paid for in several ways:

First, the association can pay for the cost of repairs out of its reserves. However, in most cases the reserves are insufficient.

Second, the amount required to pay the cost of repairs can be obtained by specially assessing the individual homeowners or borrowing funds.

Third, the association may seek redress from the builder who in many cases is legally responsible for the cost of repairs.

 

Developer to Homeowner Transition

Every new community association will transition from developer (subdivider) control to homeowner control. Sometimes the transition is smooth. Sometime it is not.

Professional developers will usually hire an HOA Transition Consultant such as Michael T. Chulak & Associates to assist in the turnover of responsibility to the homeowners. Other developers do not hire a transition consultant leaving the homeowners at a substantial disadvantage.

The HOA transition services offered by Michael T. Chulak & Associates include the following:

 

  • An accounting of all documents that the developer is required by law to turn over to the new board of directors;


  • An accounting of all homeowner association assessments from the date the first escrow closed to the date of the first election of directors;


  • Explaining the required legal process for electing a board of directors and assisting with the election;


  • Reviewing the CC&Rs and Bylaws with the first elected board of directors and answering any legal questions concerning the governing documents;


  • Explaining the correct legal process for holding board meetings, providing required legal notices, holding executive sessions, establishing operating rules, and the Open Meeting Act;


  • Reviewing insurance coverages with the new board of directors;


  • Explaining the budget process, the legal requirement for maintaining reserves, the rights and obligations of board members, the rights and obligations of members of the association; and


 

A question and answer session to answer any questions not otherwise addressed.

Transition Consultants should always represent the association, and not the developer, regardless of which entity pays the consultation fee.

Section 2792.23 of the Regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner of California sets forth the documents developers (subdividers) are required to turn over to homeowner associations that they form.

 

 

Why Management Companies Should Not Provide

Property Maintenance Services Directly

Management companies should not provide property maintenance services directly (including handyman and landscape maintenance) because providing these services directly creates a conflict of interest with their HOA clients that cannot be addressed satisfactorily.

Management companies have the responsibility (a fiduciary duty) to make certain that their clients receive the greatest value possible for every dollar spent on property maintenance services. This means the management company must make certain that their clients do not pay an excessive billing rate, do not pay for an excessive number of hours billed, do not pay for inferior work, do not pay for unnecessary work, and that maintenance is scheduled so as to minimize the number of service calls in order to minimize the client's overall cost.

Management companies that provide property maintenance services directly are in business to maximize their profit. This legitimate goal is in direct conflict with the property owner's goal of minimizing maintenance costs, We believe a management company cannot reconcile this conflict of interest if it provides maintenance services directly to its clients. For example, it is possible that the need to meet payroll costs could influence the management company's judgment as to how much maintenance is "necessary" at client properties.

A management company that hires only independent, third party property maintenance companies has the incentive and ability to fully protect its clients without regard to the profitability of the maintenance operation. A management company that provides maintenance services directly may not have the same incentive or ability.

By law, a management company, as agent for the owner, has the duty to put the client's interest above its own. Your management company should do exactly that.

For additional information about construction law, construction defects, homeowner association law or any other legal matter call us today for a no cost consultation.

 

 

Why Management Companies Should Not

Solicit or Accept HOA Management Accounts

from Home Builders - Developers

We believe that accepting homeowner association property management accounts from home builders creates a conflict of interest for the management company that cannot be reconciled.

When a developer hires a management company to manage an association, the management company becomes the agent of the association the minute the first escrow is closed because the association is created at that time. This means the management company owes its duty of loyalty to the association when the first unit is sold, notwithstanding the fact that it was selected and hired by the developer. While the management company should know that its duty of loyalty runs in favor of the association, it also knows that it will not receive additional accounts from the developer if it takes sides against it, or points out any failures on the part of the developer.

Management companies are well aware of the fact that developer controlled boards are likely to terminate their services and cease future referrals if the management company takes the side of the association against the developer. Management companies that seek management accounts from developers learn quickly that they are in a difficult position.

While not all management companies that accept developer referred management accounts breach their duty to the association, homeowners must be alert to the possibility.

Some of the abuses that we have observed over the last twenty five years includes the following:

  • Management company covering up construction defects so that the statue of limitations eliminates the right of the association to make a legal claim against the developer for the cost of repairing construction defects.

  • Management company conveniently ignoring the fact that the developer has not paid its HOA assessments on unsold units.

  • Failing to charge the developer late fees and interest on delinquent assessments.

  • Ignoring the fact that the developer controlled board of directors is using HOA funds to pay for repairs that should have been paid by the developer.

  • Advising the buyers that the developer is responsible for making repairs for only one year when the developer's legal obligation can run from one to as many as ten years after completion depending on the facts.
Not every developer is liable for construction defects and breaches its duty to the association, and not every management company hired by a home builder breaches its duty to the association and its members. However, as a board member, you should be aware of the risks and understand the dangers.

Please visit HomeownerAssociationTransitionServices.com for a list of developer responsibilities.





HOA - Condominium Association Receiverships

Homeowner Association Receivers

Attorney Michael Chulak is available to provide receivership services for homeowner associations that have become insolvent and/or dysfunctional. In addition to being an experienced HOA attorney, Michael Chulak is an owner of a homeowner association management company, CoastManagement.net, established in 1987.

 

 

HOA Laws and Rules

Our links above provide direct access to the Davis-Stirling Act which is the primary body of law dealing with common interest developments including condominiums, planned developments, stock cooperatives, and community apartment projects.  Our link to HOA Questions and Answers provides answers to the most common questions encountered by members of homeowner associations with an emphasis on HOA Law, HOA Rules, CC&Rs, Bylaws and Construction Defects.

 

 

HOA Law Articles

 

We add articles to this section of our website on a regular basis:



Real Estate Law Articles





Business Law Articles





 

Homeowner Association Problems

Call us today for a no cost consultation regarding any homeowner association problem or send your question to us via email from our HOA Questions and Answers link above.  This is your opportunity to obtain assistance from a California HOA attorney.

 

 

 

Why CC&Rs Must Be Updated



 

Expert Witnesses and Consultants Needed

In connection with our extensive litigation practice, Michael T. Chulak & Associates regularly utilizes the services of expert witnesses and consultants. If you believe you have the knowledge, experience and overall ability to provide these services, we invite you to complete an application and return it with your current resume. Upon receipt, we will enter the information into our database for use by our litigation attorneys and support staff. Please view our websites to become familiar with our areas of practice.

 

Disclaimer

The information presented on this site was prepared for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for consulting with a licensed attorney in your state. The law is constantly changing. In addition, the information presented may not be up - to - date or 100% complete. Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in California and seek to represent clients only in California. Sending us an email or other communication does not create an attorney - client relationship. Only signing a retainer agreement will establish an attorney - client relationship. This is an advertisement.

 

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HOA Attorneys: Anaheim Hills, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Christian Attorneys, Christian Lawyers