HOA Compliance with CA Pesticide Regulations

Pesticides have always been the subject of controversy in the state of California. Whether it comes to food safety, environmental considerations, the safety of natural wildlife, or to help prevent pollution, pesticides have always been subject to strict regulation and monitoring by state and local governments. For homeowners, it’s no different. Pesticides have been a well-documented issue for HOAs in the past, and there have been some recent updates to the laws and regulations for homeowner’s safety and HOA compliance to pesticide regulations. If you or a member of your community is thinking about hiring a company to use pesticides on their property, there are some important things you need to know:

California’s Code of Regulations (CCR) has an extensive section on the regulation and control of pesticide management – Sections 6000-6619 cover all aspects of private, commercial, and industrial use. But only one Section – Section 6618 – actively addresses the role of pesticides in communities. Although it does not explicitly explain or decree standard operating procedures for pesticides use, what it does do is provide the necessary steps for certain notifications for the “operator” of the property. This would be the tenant who is either using the pesticides or has hired a company to do so. This also includes necessary notifications for all people who may potentially enter the property during the specified period of use.

This puts much of the responsibility onto the companies that are providing the pesticide service. Indeed, many HOAs even have compiled lists of approved or preferred pesticide vendors that members can choose from, as these lists help to standardize safety procedures and minimize the risk of unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

The responsibility of notifying your HOA and its membership is the most expansive and detailed aspect of the CCR. Given the potential safety issues that come along with pesticide use, accountability for safety measures is paramount for HOAs. Children, pets, and regular members of the community can all be at risk of being exposed to the harmful chemicals commonly used in pesticide treatments – many of them carcinogenic. In order to help ensure the safety of the members of the community, it is common for HOAs to have contracts with pesticide vendors that include certain requirements. Other than satisfying the notification requirements, it is common practice for the contract requirements to stipulate that the vendor itself must be a “State Certified Applicator,” indicating that the company follows the current state mandated best practices procedures. Another common requirement is the vendor’s responsibility to provide the HOA’s board or management with official and current safety and content information regarding all the pesticides used, so the HOA itself can be aware of the potential risks and safety practices that are specific to the kinds of chemicals used in their community.

In fact, it is expected for any vendors to maintain proper methods of communication with the HOA and its members throughout the course of the operation. It is very common that HOA contracts with vendors include a provision requiring the vendor to maintain a toll-free number or website that HOAs can then contact in order to gain information or to ask questions about the chemicals, the treatment process, or the vendor itself. It’s incredibly important to ensure that the HOA is given the information it needs to comply the CCR Section 6618 in order to properly protect its members and the natural landscape of the community. Both are of paramount importance, and chances are, your HOA already has a contract in place with a vendor or vendors that operate within your community. If this is so, then you can refer to those contracts to see what specific requirements and provisions apply to your community. Questions regarding timeframes, safety concerns, or rights and obligations of the HOA members can be directed to your HOA.

To sum up, the most important thing you can do as a homeowner is to do your homework. Start with your HOA and refer to their approved vendors for your pesticide services. Usually, they already know all of the specific rules and regulations for your community, and will stay within those boundaries without much supervision. However, whenever you are dealing with dangerous chemicals around your home, it’s always important that you know the rules and regulations yourself. Keep that in mind, and you will keep your garden healthy and your community safe.