1. A written demand must be made to the owner before the case is filed.
2. A personal lawsuit is filed against the owner.
3. The amount of the claim cannot exceed $5,000 for two cases per calendar year and $2,500 for the balance of cases during the same calendar year. If the association's claim is for more than $5,000, the association can still use small claims court by waiving the overage or, possibly, by splitting the claim into different time periods.
4. As a rule, the owner/defendant must be alive, in California and available to be personally served or served by substituted service.
5. Anyone can attend the hearing on behalf of the association except an attorney.
6. The hearing is informal. The association needs to present the following evidence:
- a copy of the association's collection policy and CC&Rs,
- a copy of the delinquent owner's deed,
- the owner's payment history,
- copies of billing statements mailed to the owner, and
- any demand letters mailed to the delinquent owner.
Three copies of your evidence should be taken to court--one set for the defendant, one for the judge and one for yourself.
7. The judge makes a ruling immediately or takes the case under submission and the clerk mails a notice of the decision.
8. The owner can appeal to superior court if he or she loses. The association cannot appeal if it loses.
9. If successful, the association receives a judgment against the owner(s).
10. The association can execute on the judgment by garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts, cars or boats or any other methods available under the enforcement of judgments law (Code Civ. Proc. §§680.010 et seq.).
11. The association can also request that the court clerk issue an abstract of judgment
. Recording an abstract creates a judgment lien against any property in the judgment debtor's name currently owned or later acquired that is located in the county in which the abstract is recorded. The abstract can be recorded in multiple counties.
12. The judgment is good for at least ten years and earns interest at the annual rate of 10%.
: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us
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