Why doesn’t the attorney general help with association complaints?

Donie Vanitzian JD

Question:  After moving into my condo 15 years ago I attended a board meeting with several fed-up owners complaining of many unresolved problems. I thought things would change; I was wrong, nothing changed. I began a letter-writing campaign to all 75 homeowners to get the board to see the folly of its ways but that didn’t work.

I wrote my legislators and no one was interested in helping in any meaningful way. A couple months ago, I wrote to the state attorney general complaining of poor management and misappropriation of association funds. The attorney general’s office wrote back stating my complaint did not fall within its jurisdiction. What does that mean?

Answer:  Your complaint of poor management and misappropriation of association funds does not fall under the purview of the California attorney general’s office. Typically, that office does not handle complaints that have to do with the statutory common interest development act (CC 4000 – 6150), or any homeowner association’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, as well as any property management companies, dues, assessments and citations.  (Admin note: The same is basically true in Arizona.)

If you suspect criminal activity, such as fraud, theft or embezzlement on the part of the board of directors or individual officers, the proper avenue for redress is to file a report with the police or Sheriff’s Department in the area where the crime occurred, not with the attorney general’s office.

Under CC 8216, the office has limited discretionary authority to intervene on behalf of nonprofit, mutual benefit corporation homeowners denied certain specified rights. Standing is limited to “a member, director or officer” of an association, who can submit complaints that fall under four areas of compliance.

  1. Failing to provide notice and hold regular board meetings and comply with special meeting requirements. (CC 7510 – 7512.)
  2. Failing to abide by quorum requirements; transacting unauthorized business at meetings; failing to provide ballots and proxies to owners and a means of nominating and electing directors, and failing to recognize bylaws that mandate cumulative voting. (CC 7512 – 7615.)
  3. Failing to maintain books, records, minutes, annual reports and a list of members names and addresses — and to allow homeowners to inspect those items. Failing to allow a director his or her absolute right to inspect or copy any association books, records and documents. (CC 8320 – 8334.)
  4. And finally, falsifying or tampering with association reports or records. (CC 8215.)

Any complaint submitted to the attorney general must specify which Corporations Code the association is alleged to have violated and must include supporting documentation. If the office decides to act on a complaint, it will generate a notice of complaint letter to the homeowner association. The association has 30 days to respond to the attorney general’s office and the complainant.

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