Existing Civil Code Section 1365.1 requires homeowners associations to distribute a form notice in at least 12 point type entitled “Notice-Assessments and Foreclosure” to each member during the 60 day period immediately preceding the beginning of the association’s fiscal year.  Effective January 1, 2009, the statement must now include additional standard language referring to the homeowner’s right to pay disputed amounts under protest, while reserving the right to contest the disputed amount in small claims court.

Below is the revised “Notice-Assessments and Foreclosure” containing the required additional language within paragraph 2 under the heading “Payments,” for your use and distribution to members.

Please contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.

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This Notice outlines some of the rights and responsibilities of owners of property in common interest developments and the associations that manage them. Please refer to the sections of the Civil Code indicated for further information. A portion of the information in this notice applies only to liens recorded on or after January 1, 2003. You may wish to consult a lawyer if you dispute an assessment.

ASSESSMENTS AND FORECLOSURE

Assessments become delinquent 15 days after they are due, unless the governing documents of the Association provide for a longer time.  The failure to pay association assessments may result in the loss of an owner’s property through foreclosure.  Foreclosure may occur either as a result of court action, known as judicial foreclosure, or without court action, often referred to as nonjudicial foreclosure.  For liens recorded on or after January 1, 2006, an association may not use judicial or non-judicial foreclosure to enforce that lien if the amount of the delinquent assessments or dues, exclusive of any accelerated assessments, late charges, fees, attorney’s fees, interest, and costs of collection, is less than one thousand eight hundred dollars ($1,800).  For delinquent assessments or dues in excess of one thousand eight hundred dollars ($1,800) or more than 12 months delinquent, an association may use judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure subject to the conditions set forth in Section 1367.4 of the Civil Code.  When using judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure, the association records a lien on the owner’s property.  The owner’s property may be sold to satisfy the lien if the amounts secured by the lien are not paid.  (Sections 1366, 1367.1, and 1367.4 of the Civil Code).

In a judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure, the Association may recover assessments, reasonable costs of collection, reasonable attorney’s fees, late charges, and interest. The Association may not use nonjudicial foreclosure to collect fines or penalties, except for costs to repair common areas damaged by a member or a member’s guests, if the governing documents provide for this. (Sections 1366 and 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

The Association must comply with the requirements of Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code when collecting delinquent assessments. If the Association fails to follow these requirements, it may not record a lien on the owner’s property until it has satisfied those requirements. Any additional costs that result from satisfying the requirements are the responsibility of the Association. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

At least 30 days prior to recording a lien on an owner’s separate interest, the Association must provide the owner of record with certain documents by certified mail, including a description of its collection and lien enforcement procedures and the method of calculating the amount. It must also provide an itemized statement of the charges owed by the owner. An owner has a right to review the Association’s records to verify the debt. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

If a lien is recorded against an owner’s property in error, the person who recorded the lien is required to record a lien release within 21 days, and to provide an owner certain documents in this regard. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

The collection practices of the Association may be governed by state and federal laws regarding fair debt collection. Penalties can be imposed for debt collection practices that violate these laws.

PAYMENTS

When an owner makes a payment, he or she may request a receipt, and the Association is required to provide it. On the receipt, the Association must indicate the date of payment and the person who received it. The Association must inform owners of a mailing address for overnight payments. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

An owner may, but is not obligated to, pay under protest any disputed charge or sum levied by the association, including, but not limited to, an assessment, fine, penalty, late fee, collection cost, or monetary penalty imposed as a disciplinary measure, and by so doing, specifically reserve the right to contest the disputed charge or sum in court or otherwise.

An owner may dispute an assessment debt by submitting a written request for dispute resolution  to the association as set forth in Article 5 (commencing with Section 1368.810) of Chapter 4 of Title 6 in Division 2 of the Civil Code.  In addition, an association may not initiate a foreclosure without participating in alternative dispute resolution with a neutral third party as set forth in Article 2 (commencing with Section 1369.510) of Chapter 7 of Title 6 of Division 2 of the Civil Code, if so requested by the owner.  Binding arbitration shall not be available if the association intends to initiate a judicial foreclosure.

An owner is not liable for charges, interest, and costs of collection, if it is established that the assessment was paid properly on time. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).

MEETINGS AND PAYMENT PLANS

An owner of a separate interest that is not a time-share may request the Association to consider a payment plan to satisfy a delinquent assessment. The Association must inform owners of the standards for payment plans, if any exist. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).  The Board of Directors must meet with an owner who makes a proper written request for a meeting to discuss a payment plan when the owner has received a notice of a delinquent assessment. These payment plans must conform with the payment plan standards of the Association, if they exist. (Section 1367.1 of the Civil Code).