At least 30 days before an association records a lien on a unit to collect a debt that is past due, it must give the owner of that unit written notice in the form of a pre-lien letter. (Civ. Code § 5660.) The letter must be sent by certified mail and contain the following:
- A general description of the collection and lien enforcement procedures of the association and the method of calculation of the amount, a statement that the owner of the separate interest has the right to inspect records, and 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.
- An itemized statement of the charges owed by the owner.
- A statement that the owner is not responsible for charges, interest, and costs of collection, if the assessment was paid on time.
- The right to request a payment plan.
- The right to dispute the assessment debt by submitting a written request internal dispute resolution.
- The right to request alternative dispute resolution.
For delinquencies less than $1,800, some associations choose to collect the assessment, late fees, interest, and costs of collection by filing a small claims action. (Civ. Code § 5720(b)(1).)
Multiple Owners. Whenever there are multiple owners on title living at different addresses, notice must be given to all owners at each address. It can be one letter with multiple addressees and addresses (all owners on title at all addresses) at the top of the letter, which can then be mailed to everyone. Any additional expenses can be included in the HOA's collection costs.
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