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Personal Money Judgment. A "money judgment" or "personal money judgment" (PMJ) is an order from a court that a person pay the association a specific amount of money which the court awarded to the association as damages, delinquent assessments, reimbursement of costs incurred by the association repairing common areas damaged by a person, etc. Money judgments are enforceable in California for a period of ten years and renewable for another ten years. (Code Civ. Proc. § 683.020, § 697.310.)

Basis for Emergency Assessment. As an order of a court, a judgment can be the basis for a emergency assessment under Civ. Code § 5610(a).

Abstract of Judgment. An "abstract of judgment" is a written summary of the money judgment. The abstract states (i) how much money was awarded to the association, (ii) the interest rate to be paid on the judgment amount, and (iii) any court costs awarded.

Replace Existing Lien. Once an association obtains a money judgment against a delinquent owner, any existing assessment lien on the property is automatically extinguished and must be replaced with a judgment lien if the association wants to preserve its rights. (Diamond Heights Village v. Financial Freedom.)

Recording an Abstract. Before it can be recorded, an abstract of judgment must be certified by the clerk of the court where the judgment was entered. Code Civ. Proc. § 674(a). The association may record the abstract of the money judgment with the County Recorder. (Code Civ. Proc. § 674, § 697.310.)

Judgment Lien. A recorded abstract of judgment becomes a lien against any and all of the owner's real property in the counties where the abstract is recorded. (Code Civ. Proc. § 674, § 697.310.) A judgment lien affects property already owned as well as any later acquired by the defendant. If the defendant does not pay the judgment, the association can force a sheriff's sale of any real property covered by the lien, subject to any secured loans, tax liens and/or other judgments that may be ahead of the association's lien.

Levy Personal Property & Garnish Wages. The judgment can also be used by the association to garnish the delinquent owner's wages (Code Civ. Proc. § 706.010 and following) and levy against his/her personal property (Code Civ. Proc. § 488.300 and following). For more information, see Enforcement of Money Judgments.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

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