Assessment Liens & Judgment Liens (Generally)

Notice of Delinquent Assessment (“Assessment Lien”)
Assessment payments become the legal debt of the owner at the time the assessments are levied by the association. (Civ. Code § 5650; See also “Duty to Pay Assessments.”) Where the owner fails to remit payment within a timely fashion, an association’s governing documents allow for the association to record a Notice of Delinquent Assessment (an “assessment lien”) against a member’s property to act as security for the payment of the member’s assessment debt. (Civ. Code § 5675(a).) The assessment lien effectively prevents the member from transferring title to the member’s property and potentially from re-financing the property without first satisfying the member’s assessment debt and having the assessment lien released.

An association must comply with strict procedures when recording and enforcing assessment liens. (See “Pre-Lien Letter,” “Notice of Delinquent Assessment (Assessment Lien),” and “Assessment Lien Enforcement (Generally).”)

Abstract of Judgment (“Judgment Lien”)
An abstract of judgment (a “judgment lien”) is a court-ordered lien that is placed upon a judgment debtor’s property. Where an owner fails to pay assessments and/or monetary penalties imposed by an association, the association may file a lawsuit against a member in Small Claims or Superior Court (depending upon the amount owed) and obtain a money judgment for that amount. The association will then record an abstract of judgment to secure the judgment debt in the event the member refuses to pay the judgment amount. (See “Money Judgments (Assessment Collection).”)