Draft LWA Homeowner Bill of Rights


Modeled on the Preamble and Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and an AARP-proposed Bill of Rights for Homeowners in Associations,[1] this draft Bill of Rights seeks to inspire member confidence in the concept of private government, to ensure amicable and equitable relations between homeowners and our association, and to provide a simple definition of member rights.

I        Homeowners and prospective homeowners must be provided with full written       disclosure regarding the Association’s governing documents and fees.

The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) of the Association constitutes a contract between the association and each owner. Homeowners shall be told–before buying–of the association’s broad powers and the association may not exercise any power not clearly disclosed to the homeowner if the power unreasonably interferes with homeownership.

II      Homeowners shall have a right to stability in the Association’s Governing Documents.

Homeowners shall have the right to vote on additions or amendments to the Association’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and the Declaration, as well as their termination.  Where the association’s directors resolve to rescind, amend, or deviate from operating rules in the governing documents (policies, rules, and procedures), homeowners shall be provided with adequate prior notice and an opportunity, by majority vote, to rescind new rules or amendments thereto.

III     Homeowners shall be entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and free interaction with other members regarding issues that affect their interests as members.

The association shall not abridge a member’s freedom of speech or of the press through policy, direct order, or intimidation or any kind of public abuse.  The association shall neither deny nor impeded any member’s ability to communicate with other members regarding matters that directly relate to their interests as members.

IV     Homeowners have a right to privacy regarding their personal contact information.

To protect each member’s right to privacy, the association shall establish and maintain a procedure that enables members who prefer not to share their personal contact information with other members to Opt Out and, instead, to instruct the association to provide a reasonable alternate method of distributing proper messages to them in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Electronic mail addresses shall be shared in accordance with the Opt Out Policy.

V       Homeowners shall not be deprived of property without speedy due process of law.

The association shall not foreclose against a homeowner except for significant unpaid assessments and any such foreclosure shall require judicial review to ensure fairness.  The association may not foreclose against a homeowner on any lien except under express authority granted by the CC&Rs and with the approval by a two-thirds vote by the directors.

VI     Homeowners shall have a right to individual autonomy.

Homeowners shall not be unreasonably required to surrender any essential rights of individual autonomy because they live in a common-interest community.  The governing documents of the association may not include provisions that are illegal or contrary to public policy.  Provisions that violate public policy include: (1) terms that are arbitrary, spiteful, or capricious; (2) terms that unreasonably burden a fundamental constitutional right; (3) terms that impose an unreasonable restraint on the right to sell property; or (4) terms that are unconscionable.

VII   Homeowners shall have the right to oversight of the Association and Directors.

Homeowners shall have reasonable access to records and meetings, as well as specified abilities to call special meetings, to obtain oversight of elections and other votes, and to recall directors.  They shall be provided with timely, accurate, and understandable accounts regarding the financial condition of the association, the status of reserve accounts,  minutes and records of actions by the board and its standing committees, and policies regarding administration and operations. Upon request, homeowners shall be entitled to copies of all such records in a timely manner.

VIII  Regular and Special meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to all members and will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Open Meeting Act.

Open meetings favor public deliberation by association boards. The Board shall not hold Executive Sessions or other secret meetings that exclude members except in the case of issues that involve pending litigation or employment or disciplinary actions regarding employees. Matters discussed during Executive Sessions must be outlined in the agenda for the meeting, the results from which shall be summarized and disclosed to members at the next regular Board Meeting.

IX     Homeowners shall have a right to prompt resolution of disputes without the need to resort to litigation.

Homeowners shall have access to non-judicial, internal dispute resolution (IDR) and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to reduce the need for expensive litigation.  IDR and ADR shall be conducted in a prompt, respectful, and private manner with the intent of resolving disputes.

X       Homeowners have a right to governance by adequately trained board members.

Members of the Association Board of Directors shall be adequately trained for their position as guardians of the well-being of the community and its members.  At a minimum, new board members shall be required to complete training comparable to the Board Leadership Development Workshop offered by the Community Associations Institute,  expanded as necessary to inform each board member regarding requirements of the California statutes applicable to common interest developments and the governing documents of Lake Wildwood Association.

[1]   A BILL of RIGHTS for HOMEOWNERS in ASSOCIATIONS: Basic Principles of Consumer Protection and Sample Model Statute.  AARP Public Policy Institute (2006);(http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/consume/inb128_homeowner.pdf).


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