Calculation of Fees. Boards may not impose assessments or fees that exceed the amount necessary to defray the costs for which it is levied. (Civ. Code §5600.) Where practicable, fees should be precise. Where impracticable, an exact correlation is not required since the statute “requires nothing more than a reasonable, good faith estimate of the amount of the fee necessary to defray the cost for which it is levied.” A "rough proportionality" between the fees charged and the association's actual costs is sufficient. (Watts v. Oak Shores.)
Burden of Proof. If challenged, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the challenged fees violate state law. (Dey v. Continental Cent. Credit (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 721, 727, citing Berryman v. Merit Management (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 1544, 1560 ("It is [plaintiff's] burden to demonstrate why the collection fee is illegal, rather than defendant's burden to justify that it is legal for it to charge a fee for [the] service.")
Reserve Assessment. A special assessment to fund the reserve account does not fall under the fee limitations described above.
Exceptions. Management companies and Community Service Organizations are exempt from fee limitations.
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