At least thirty (30) days prior to recording an assessment lien on an owner’s separate interest for delinquent assessments, late charges, interest, collection fees and costs owed by that owner to the association, the association is required to provide the owner with a pre-lien letter (aka “intent to lien letter,” “pre-lien notice,” etc.) via certified mail. (Civ. Code § 5660.)
The pre-lien letter must be sent to the owner of record via certified mail and include all of the following information:
- Description of Collection/Lien Enforcement Procedures – A general description of the collection and enforcement procedures of the association (i.e., a description of the association’s assessment collection policy). (Civ. Code § 5660(a).)
- Debt Calculation Method – A general description of the method of calculation of the delinquent amount owed to the association.(Civ. Code § 5660(a).)
- Right to Inspect Records – A statement that the owner has the right to inspect the association’s records pursuant to Civil Code Section 5205. (Civ. Code § 5660(a).)
- Required Foreclosure Notice – The following statement in 14-point boldface type, if printed, or in capital letters, if typed: “IMPORTANT NOTICE: IF YOUR SEPARATE INTEREST IS PLACED IN FORECLOSURE BECAUSE YOU ARE BEHIND IN YOUR ASSESSMENTS, IT MAY BE SOLD WITHOUT COURT ACTION.” (Civ. Code § 5660(a).)
- Itemized Statement of Debt – An itemized statement of the charges owed by the owner, including items on the statement which indicate the amount of any delinquent assessments, the collection fees and costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and any late charges and interest, if any. (Civ. Code § 5660(b).)
- Non-Liability for Association’s Error – A statement that the owner shall not be liable to pay the late charges, interest, collection fees and costs if it is determined that the assessment was paid on time to the association. (Civ. Code § 5660(c).)
- Right to Request Meeting to Discuss Payment Plan – The owner’s right to request a meeting with the board to discuss a payment plan, as provided in Civil Code Section 5665. (Civ. Code § 5660(d).)
- Right to Request IDR – The owner’s right to dispute the assessment debt by submitting a written request for dispute resolution to the association pursuant to the association’s “meet and confer” program established pursuant to Civil Code Section 5900 et. seq. (Civ. Code § 5660(e); See also “Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR).”) If the owner requests IDR before the lien is recorded, the association must participate in IDR with the owner prior to recording the lien. (See “Pre-Lien Dispute Resolution.”)
- Right to Request ADR – The owner’s right to request alternative dispute resolution (ADR) with a neutral third party pursuant to Civil Code Section 5925 et. seq. before the association may initiate foreclosure against the owner’s separate interest, except that binding arbitration shall not be available if the association intends to initiate a judicial foreclosure. (Civ. Code § 5660(f).)
- Civil Code Section 5675. Notice of Delinquent Assessment (Assessment Lien).
- Civil Code Section 5673. Decision to Lien for Delinquent Assessments.
- Civil Code Section 5670. Pre-Lien Dispute Resolution.
- Civil Code Section 5665. Payment Plans; Requirements and Limitations.
- Civil Code Section 5660. Pre-Lien Notice; Requirements.
Related Case Law
- Mashiri v. Epsten Grinnell & Howell
(2017) 845 F.3d 984
[FDCPA; Collection Notice] Homeowner successfully alleged that HOA law firm violated FDCPA because pre-lien notice payment demand timeline was inconsistent with the right under the FDCPA to dispute the debt within 30 days of receipt of letter.
- 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.
“Pre-Lien Demands and FDCPA Concerns” – Published on HOA Lawyer Blog (April, 2017)