Senate Judiciary Committee approves Wieckowski HOA bill

SB 1265 strengthens HOA election process by reining in boards that abuse their powers

May 8, 2018

SACRAMENTO – A bill by state Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to strengthen the election process in California’s 52,000 homeowner associations (HOA) by making sure all homeowners have a vote, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon and now heads to the Senate floor for approval.

“Unfortunately, more than a few HOA boards have used their by-laws and rules to maintain their power and control over the association, to the exclusion of other residents,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Judiciary Committee. “This exclusion is often selective – fining and then disqualifying those particular residents who seek to challenge the status quo and have a seat on the board. Boards have also manipulated elections, or refused to hold them at all. They have failed to properly notice an election, failed to deliver ballots to residents, refused to count valid ballots, and denied access to the counting of ballots after elections.”

SB 1265 will add requirements that must be met in HOA elections and internal dispute resolution to help prevent much of the bad behavior and corruption that occurs in problem HOAs. It prohibits HOAs from disqualifying members from running for the board of directors; prohibits disenfranchising members; requires access to observe the counting of votes; proper notice of election rules and procedures; and prohibits anyone currently employed or under contract to the HOA to serve as an elections observer, among other requirements.

Representatives from the Center for California Homeowner Association Law testified in support of the bill. They told the committee associations have set arbitrary qualifications to be met by candidates for board seats, as well as arbitrary qualifications for voting. Associations have also allowed third parties with a vested interest in the outcome of an election manage the election process, distribute and receive ballots, and count the votes. They have also refused to give some candidates access to association media, according to the Center for California Homeowner Association Law.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.