BUSINESS
Q&A

A request to add a second mailing address cannot be denied

It's illegal for a homeowner association to deny a request to add a second mailing address

Question: I sent a letter to my homeowner association management company explaining that I needed to add a second address to my account for assessment statements, invoices and association-related communications. Management referred me to the webmaster for the company's website, but said the system isn't set up to send to multiple addresses. Management said it won't allow me to add a second address to receive association-related materials via regular mail. Is it legal for them to deny me this?

Answer: Mail can, and frequently is, lost or damaged in transit or delivered to a wrong address. Even for resident owners, it is a good idea to have a backup address for official association mail, such as notices of hearings, fines and billing matters. Adding a second address may be one of the most important things an owner can do to protect assets.

It is not legal to deny your request. Adding an additional address is not contingent on having the right kind of website — but it has everything to do with complying with the law. If the management company's system is not set up for sending notices to multiple addresses, that needs to be rectified.

The management company has no say in this matter, neither does the board. They both must abide by your demand to add a second address of your choosing, without question or delay. A board that allows a management company's technical limitations to prevent compliance with the law is not properly overseeing its vendors and may be subjecting the association to liability.

The law says you can have certain homeowner association-related notices and documents mailed to two addresses simultaneously. All mailing-related requests fall under Civil Code section 5260, and the types of notices that may be sent to two addresses are described in Civil Code section 4040.

One clause, for instance, [Civil Code section 4040(b)] provides that after receiving a second mailing address from a titleholder, the association shall deliver an additional copy of these notices to the secondary address: annual budget reports, assessment debt and delinquency notices and foreclosure notices.

Every titleholder can, and should, request that their association add a second address for delivery of individual notices. You may have a limited period of time to respond to a notice, and a failure to receive any communication timely may be detrimental to your rights.

Such demands must be made in writing and addressed to the board and the management company.

Titleholders also may request an address to be removed, but all such requests to change the owner's mailing address in the association membership list or for individual delivery of general notices must be delivered in writing. Always use a recognized method of tracking your mail to the association's board and management company.

Once the association or the managing agent receives the titleholder's request to deliver notices to a second address as well, the association shall deliver an additional copy of those notices to that secondary address. Under Evidence Code section 11, "shall" means "mandatory."

There is no additional charge to the owner for notices mailed to two addresses, nor should there be.

Zachary Levine, a partner at Wolk & Levine, a business and intellectual property law firm, co-wrote this column. Vanitzian is an arbitrator and mediator. Send questions to Donie Vanitzian JD, P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or noexit@mindspring.com.

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