In That v. Alders Maintenance Assn., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Jun. 15, 2012), the Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) held that the conduct of an election by a homeowners association is not a "business act or practice" within the meaning of the UCL:
Plaintiff’s second cause of action, offered to circumvent the statute of limitations on the first, is under the UCL. The UCL is codified in Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. Section 17200 prohibits any “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice.” (Italics added.)
We cannot find, and plaintiff does not cite, a single published case in which a homeowners association has been treated as a “business” under the UCL, and we are unpersuaded by plaintiff’s claims in favor of such a reading of the statute. Plaintiff argues that associations are businesses, citing O’Connor v. Village Green Owners Assn. (1983) 33 Cal.3d 790. That case is readily distinguishable. In O’Connor, the California Supreme Court held that an association was a “business establishment” under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, §51). Treating associations as businesses in that context is consistent with — and indeed, necessary for — fulfilling the fundamental purposes of that statutory scheme, the protection of civil rights.
The UCL’s purpose does not require the same broad construction of the word “business.” “The UCL’s purpose is to protect both consumers and competitors by promoting fair competition in commercial markets for goods and services. [Citation.]” (Kasky v. Nike, Inc. (2002) 27 Cal.4th 939, 949.) An association does not participate as a business in the commercial market, much less compete in it. The dispute here is not related to any activity that might be deemed in the least bit commercial. Indeed, it is solely related to the conduct of association elections, a subject covered thoroughly by the Davis-Stirling Act itself. (Civ. Code, § 1363.03 et seq.)
We do not foreclose entirely the notion that the UCL could apply to an association. If, for example, an association decided to sell products or services that are strictly voluntary purchases for members or nonmembers, it might be liable for such acts under the UCL. But applying the UCL to an election dispute would simply make no sense. An association, operating under its governing documents to maintain its premises and conduct required proceedings, possesses none of the relevant features the UCL was intended to address. Applying the UCL in this context would both misconstrue the intent of that statute and undermine the specific procedures set forth in the Davis-Stirling Act. An action under the UCL “is not an all-purpose substitute for a tort or contract action.” (Cortez v. Purolator Air Filtration Products Co. (2000) 23 Cal.4th 163, 173.) We therefore find the court properly sustained defendant’s demurrer to the second cause of action.
Slip op. at 13-14 (footnote omitted) (emphasis added).