Residential landlords must be careful in the wording and explanation of arbitration provisions in lease agreements, especially with Spanish speaking residents. In a recent case, Penilla v. Westmont, a California Appeals Court found that an arbitration provision in a mobilehome park rental agreement was unconscionable, and thus unenforceable, when it (1) substantially benefited the landlord, (2) imposed fees and limitations that would have substantially deterred residents from asserting their claims and (2) 15 of the 46 named parties spoke little or no English. The arbitration agreement, attached to the lease, required the tenants to pay half of the arbitration costs up front and determined that a failure to do so would result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord. The court found that due to the low income nature of the tenants, virtually none of them would be able to afford the cost of arbitration.
HOA Reserves under the Davis-Stirling Act may be impacted by the enactment of Assembly Bill 968, which amends California Civil Code Section 4775. AB 968 changes the responsibility for exclusive use common areas. The current law under the Davis-Stirling Act effective until December 31, 2017 excludes exclusive use areas from the association's maintenance, repair and replacement responsibilities and places that responsibility on the owner of the separate interest for maintaining any exclusive use area attached to the separate interest. The new law, in effect on January 1, 2017, reverses the responsibility requiring, generally, that if the HOA's governing documents and/or CC&Rs are not clear on who is responsible for exclusive use common areas, then it is the HOA' s responsibility.
#1 - Deal with Problem Tenants Early On