Assessment payments become the legal debt of the member at the time the assessments are levied by the association. (Civ. Code § 5650; See also “Duty to Pay Assessments.”) Where the member fails to remit payment within a timely fashion, an association may record a Notice of Delinquent Assessment (an “assessment lien”) against the 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.
Pre-Lien Letter Required
At least thirty (30) days prior to recording an assessment lien on a member’s property (the member’s “separate interest“) for delinquent assessments, late charges, interest, collection fees and costs owed by that member to the association, the association is required to provide the member with a pre-lien letter via certified mail. (Civ. Code § 5660; See also “Pre-Lien Letter.”)
Decision to Record Assessment Lien
The decision to record an assessment lien must be made by a majority vote of the board at an open board meeting and recorded in the meeting’s minutes. (Civ. Code § 5673; See also “Decision to Record Assessment Lien.”)
An assessment lien must contain all of the following:
- Itemized Statement of Amounts Owed – The assessment lien must state the amount of the delinquent assessments and any other sums imposed (i.e., late fees, interest, collection costs, etc.) in accordance with Civil Code Section 5650. (Civ. Code § 5675(a).) The itemized statement of these amounts which were provided to the owner in the pre-lien letter must also be recorded together with the assessment lien. (Civ. Code § 5675(b).)
- Legal Description of the Member’s Property – The assessment lien must include a legal description of the member’s (owner’s) property (“separate interest”) within the association’s development against which the delinquent assessment and other sums are levied. (Civ. Code § 5675(a).)
- Name of the Member – The assessment lien must include the name of the record owner of the separate interest against which the assessment lien is imposed. (Civ. Code § 5675(a).)
- Name & Address of Foreclosure Trustee – In order for the assessment lien to be enforced by nonjudicial foreclosure, the assessment lien must state the name and address of the trustee authorized by the association to enforce the lien via foreclosure sale. (Civ. Code § 5675(c).)
- Signed by Designated Person – The assessment lien must be signed by the person designated in the CC&Rs or by the association for that purpose, or if no one is designated, by the president of the association. (Civ. Code § 5675(d).)
Copy of Recorded Assessment Lien Mailed to all Owners
One recorded, a copy of the recorded assessment lien must be mailed by certified mail to every person whose name is shown as an owner of the separate interest in the association’s records; the notice must be mailed no later than ten (10) calendar days after recordation. (Civ. Code § 5675(e).)
- Civil Code Section 5685. Assessment Lien Release.
- Civil Code Section 5675. Notice of Delinquent Assessment (Assessment Lien).
- Civil Code Section 5673. Decision to Lien for Delinquent Assessments.
- Civil Code Section 5660. Pre-Lien Notice; Requirements.
- Civil Code Section 5650. Debt of Owner; Assessments, Late Charges, Collection Costs, Interest.
Related Case Law
- Diamond Heights Village Association, Inc. v. Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corp.
(2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 290
[Assessment Collection; Judgment Lien Merger] When a HOA assessment lien is enforced by the HOA through judicial action, the debt secured by the assessment lien is merged into the judgment.
- Diamond v. Superior Court
(2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 1172
[Assessment Collection; Notice Requirements] A HOA must strictly adhere to the statutory lien and foreclosure notice requirements in order to perfect an assessment lien and foreclose on a homeowner’s property.
- Huntington Continental Townhouse Association, Inc. v. Miner
(2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 590
[Assessments & Collection; Partial Payments] An association is required to accept partial payments made by a delinquent homeowner and allocate them in accordance with Civil Code Section 5655, even after the association has recorded an assessment lien.