Pre-Lien Dispute Resolution

Where an owner fails to remit assessment payments within a timely fashion, an association may record an assessment lien against the owner’s property to act as security for the payment of the owner’s delinquent assessment debt. (Civ. Code § 5675(a); See also “Notice of Delinquent Assessment (Assessment Lien).”) The assessment lien effectively prevents the owner from transferring title to the owner’s property and potentially from re-financing the property without first satisfying the owner’s assessment debt and having the assessment lien released.

Pre-Lien Offer of Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR)
Prior to recording an assessment lien, an association is required to offer the delinquent owner the opportunity to participate in internal dispute resolution (“IDR” aka “Meet & Confer”). (Civ. Code § 5670).) The purpose of IDR is to provide a non-judicial forum to resolve disputes between an owner and the association that will not result in a fee or charge to the owner. For information on the IDR procedure and its requirements, see “Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR).” When the association’s pre-lien offer of IDR is accepted by the owner, the association must participate in IDR prior to recording the assessment lien. (Civ. Code §§ 5670, 5910(c).)

Right to Request IDR; Pre-Lien Letter
At least thirty (30) days prior to recording an assessment lien, the association is required to provide the owner with a pre-lien letter that is sent via certified mail. (Civ. Code § 5660; See also “Pre-Lien Letter.”) The pre-lien letter must contain various items of information; one of those items is a statement as to the owner’s right to dispute the assessment debt by submitting a written request for IDR to the association. (Civ. Code § 5660(e).) If the owner requests IDR before the assessment lien is recorded, the association must participate in IDR prior to recording the assessment lien. (Civ. Code § 5670.)