Am I Responsible for Repairs/Maintenance or Is My HOA Responsible?

Homeowner’s Associations have their pros and cons. Nobody likes to pay for the HOA monthly fees, but when they exist homeowners enjoy the benefits of a neat and well-maintained community. As time goes on in your homeownership experience and HOA membership, there will be a point where something requires replacement or repairs. This is true whether you live in an HOA overseeing condominium or single family residences.

A client of mine in Point Loma received a notice from their condominium HOA indicating that her bathroom fixtures caused water to seep through her bathroom floor seeping into condos located below her unit. The letter required repairs to fixtures and piping. A married couple and clients of mine in Little Italy received a notice from their HOA indicating that the floors in the unit were in disrepair causing noise disruption to the neighbors below their unit. The letter required repairs to flooring within the unit. A client of mine in Mira Mesa received a notice that a wall shared with the community was deteriorating and required fixing. The letter required repairs within 60 days. A client of mine in Point Loma received a notice that a balcony outside of her condo. required structural repairs. The notice letter required repairs by the homeowner. Repairs were required in each of these notices issued by the HOA and in each of these notices it was written in a manner that leads the homeowner to immediately believe it was their responsibility to repair without question. However, the process of repairs is not that easy and it is NOT always the homeowner’s responsibility.

Homeowners should be cooperative and responsive to letters sent by HOAs demanding repairs. In doing so, homeowners should also begin the process by working closely with the HOA and carry out some factual analysis to determine the cause behind the problem as well as responsibility of repair. For the homeowner, this includes an analysis of the community’s CC&R’s (Covenants Conditions and Restrictions) as well as Repairs & Maintenance policies. This is where things can get sticky depending upon the HOA’s available documents and the clarity of the content regarding repairs.

If you receive a notice or demand to make a repair in your condominium or home under the jurisdiction of a Homeowner’s Association, consult with an attorney to review the matter closely.  Depending on the item(s) requiring repairs and maintenance, the CC&Rs and California civil code rules, a homeowner or the HOA holds responsibility to repair the required item(s). Analyze the situation.

5 Great Ways to Find the Best Real Estate Attorneys in San Diego

When you or your family finds itself in need of a qualified real estate attorney for your San Diego-based property it can become a daunting task. There are so many attorneys out there advertising both offline and online claiming experience in real estate. So how do you find qualified and experienced real estate attorneys in San Diego? Here are a few pointers to consider when you are searching for the best real estate attorneys in San Diego to take on your property needs.

  1. Request Recommendations from Your Friends and Family – start off by inquiring within your network. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. You’ll learn about how others have used a real estate attorney in the past and what to expect in involving a real estate attorney.  Friends and family will look out for you and will recommend only those that provide quality service.
  2. Read Available Reviews – After receiving recommendations, search their online profiles. Read available reviews to learn how other non-family members have been helped by these particular attorneys. Use local San Diego resources such as community-based sites or your local Chamber of Commerce, and national resources such as,,, You can also simply perform a Google search for the attorney’s name to learn more about that person and/or law firm.
  3. Industry Recommendations – Use available resources such as the San Diego County Bar or the State Bar of California to learn more about your potential attorney. Search online and call around with inquiries as well.  Again, sites like (a legal database of attorney) will help shed more light on your search.  Here’s an example of an attorney’s profile on
  4. Referral Requests from Trusted Parties – Use trusted professionals to seek out recommendations.  For example, if you have worked with an Accountant in the past, that Accountant or CPA is typically part of a group of professionals and just may know a great attorney to refer you to. It also gives you a great opportunity to follow up with your group of trusted professionals.
  5. Consultations – When seeking legal consultations, attorneys in San Diego often offer free consultations depending on your particular legal needs. Take advantage of those free consultations and request more than 1, especially if you really want to obtain a second opinion.  In attending at least 2 consultations, you just may find that 1 attorney fully understands you or is simply a better fit for you than the other.

These recommendations are based on an accumulation of feedback from clients over time. Most expressed that taking their time to find a quality attorney is more cost-effective in the long-run than simply electing the first search result using an online search engine. I hope this helps you locate the best real estate attorneys in San Diego.  Feel free to reach out to this office to request a consultation after reviewing our client feedback.

Your property is important. Be sure to take the time to locate the representation that’s right for you, your family and your posterity.

Protect your property during this El Niño

Sandbags help to divert or redirect water, mud and debris from your property and help prevent soil erosion.

Free sand and sandbags are available to residents and business throughout San Diego County at the following locations:

Sandbags are also available at these retail vendors. For more information on flood debris and erosion control, view the Homeowner’s Guide for Flood, Debris, and Erosion Control

View more information at


What is a Homestead Declaration?

What is a Homestead Declaration?

A homestead declaration is a written statement, made under penalty of perjury, that claims a particular “dwelling” (for example, a house, condominium, boat, or similar property) as the owner’s principal place of residence.

When a homestead declaration is (1) signed by a homeowner, (2) acknowledged (i.e., “notarized”) by a notary, and (3) “recorded,” it helps to protect the home against loss to creditors. “Recorded” means that the original signed and notarized homestead declaration is filed in the clerk’s or recorder’s office for the county in which the home is located.

A properly prepared and recorded homestead declaration immunizes the home (and the land on which it is situated) from many (but not all) legal enforcement measures. For example, if a homeowner files a petition in bankruptcy, it may be possible, because of a homestead declaration, to retain the home, or at least a portion of the equity in the property, instead of losing it to creditors.

Determining when to file a Homestead Declaration is fact-based and dependent upon your situation.  California has an automatic homestead exemption.  Based on that, you may or may not want to file a homestead declaration. If you have little or no equity in your home, little advantage is to be gained. Should you have minimal debt, there is also no reason to file a homestead declaration. Finally, if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future and have no delinquent debt problems, filing the declaration form offers no immediate advantages.  If you have little equity or minimal debt, you may still be concerned for the future.While you should file the homestead form before you have a serious financial problem, creditors cannot file liens until they obtain court judgments. You’ll have plenty of notice before you need to declare a homestead.

Speak with a professional about this topic before making this declaration with the County offices.




Recording A Quitclaim Deed with the San Diego County Recorder’s Office

If you established a Revocable Living Trust in the recent past or anytime in the past, remember that after establishing your Trust, you must also “fund” the Trust. Funding it means to place things into the Trust so that it can be administered and carried out the way it is intended.

If you haven’t funded your real property into your Revocable Living Trust, you can do so by signing (before a notary public) a Quitclaim Deed and subsequently recording it locally with the San Diego Recorder’s Office.  Only real property physically located here in the county can be controlled by the San Diego County Recorder’s Office. If you live in San Diego, but have real property physically located outside of this county, you will have to seek assistance that that county’s Recorder’s Office for assistance in funding your Trust or other real property matters.

The following is more information published from the San Diego County Recorder’s Office as of July 6, 2015. You are encouraged to review their official website for current information.

The County Recorder, upon payment of proper fees and taxes, will accept any document which is authorized or required by California law to be recorded, if the document contains required information and if it is photographically reproducible.

For your convenience, documents may be presented for recording in the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk offices at the addresses listed below.

County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway, Suite 260
San Diego, CA 92101
El Cajon Branch
200 S. Magnolia Ave
El Cajon, CA 92020
San Marcos Branch
141 East Carmel St.
San Marcos, CA 92078

All applicable fees must be paid at the time of recording, click RECORDING FEES.

For information on hours of business and directions to the office locations, quit this option and

Each document presented for recording MUST include or comply with the following general requirements.

If any portion of your recordable document is in a foreign language*, it must be translated into English. The translator will need to complete a Declaration and Verification of Interpretation form for submission to the County Clerk. The County Clerk will then complete a Translation Certificate for a fee of $10.00. Both the Declaration of Interpretation and the Translation Certificate forms must be completed and attached to the document prior to recording.

The document should not contain more than the last four digits of the Social Security number, pursuant to Civil Code 1798.89. This does not apply to documents executed prior to January 1, 2010 or certified copies of the death certificate attached to the documents.

  1. The property must be located in San Diego County.(CC1169)
  2. The document must be authorized or required by law to be recorded. (GC 27201)
  3. The document must be submitted with the proper fees and taxes. (GC 6301, 27201, 27261)
  4. The document must be in compliance with state and local laws.
  5. The document should Name the person requesting recording. (GC 27361.6)
  6. The document should state the Name and address to whom the document should be returned, fill in “Recording Requested By and Mail To”. (GC 27361.6)
  7. The document must be legible enough to produce a readable photographic record.(GC 27201, 27361.6, 27361.7)
  8. Signatures must be original unless the document is a certified copy issued by the appropriate custodian of the public record. (GC 27201b, GC 28288, Evid Code 1530)
  9. The document must be properly acknowledged, unless exempt. All purpose acknowledgments taken in California must be completed as prescribed by law.  Any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in this state if it is taken in accordance with the laws of the place where the acknowledgment is made. (GOV 27201, 27285, 27287, 27288, 27289, CIV 1189)
  10. The Assessor’s Parcel Number is required on deeds by local Ordinance. (R&T 11911.1)
  11. The notary seal must be legible for a microfilm reproduction .(GC 8207)

Documentary Transfer Tax is due on all taxable conveyances in excess of $100 at a rate of $.55 per $500 or fractional portion of real property value; excluding any liens or encumbrances already of record as required, per Revenue and Taxation Code 11911. It is collected at the time of recording on each deed, or instrument. A Documentary Transfer Tax Declaration must be completed and signed for all deeds. If no Documentary Transfer Tax is due, so indicate by entering “0” on the tax line and sign the declaration. Please explain the reason why no tax is due on the document or on a separate signed statement.(R&T 11932)

When transferring property to ANYONE a “Preliminary Change of Ownership Report” IS REQUIRED per the Revenue and Taxation Code 480.2, click PRELIMINARY CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP REPORT. This document is in Acrobat PDF format.

If a “Preliminary Change of Ownership Report” is required, but not submitted at the time of recording, please include an additional $20.00 for the Ownership Change fee. Preliminary Change of Ownership Forms are available at the customer counter or it can be mailed to you upon request by calling (619) 238-8158.

You may also mail in your documents for recording with a check,cashiers check or money order made payable to:

The San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk
P.O. Box 121750
San Diego, California 92112-1750

Your request is processed upon receipt. Please allow 2-4 weeks to receive your original recorded document back in the mail.

The office of the Recorder/County Clerk is PROHIBITED from giving ANY legal advice or to assist in document preparation. We DO NOT provide any notarial services. Various types of forms may be purchased at office supply or stationary stores.

Once you have the appropriate form, you may prepare it yourself, consult legal counsel or contact a local title company or escrow company.

Photo Credit: San Diego