Can a homeowners association in California foreclose on my condo, townhome, or home?

Can a homeowners association in California foreclose on my condo, townhome, or home?

An overview of how a HOA in California can foreclose on a property


In California, property (house, condo, townhome, etc) owners that are part of a homeowners association (HOA) are typically responsible for paying dues and assessments to the homeowners' association. If the property owner does not pay the dues or assessments, the HOA does have the statutory right to get a lien on your property that can lead to foreclosure. 

HOA Liens

Almost every HOA in California has the authority to put a lien on your property if the homeowner falls behind in paying the monthly dues and/or assessments. A property lien is a legal notice that's put on file as a consequence of an unpaid debt, and liens can be filed against a property for things such as missing a mortgage payment, payments owed to contractors for work done on the home, and for failing to pay any monies owed to the HOA. 

To record a lien, the two following requirements must be met: 

Pre-Lien Notice Requirement

In California, a lien can only be recorded 30-days after the HOA has sent written notice to the homeowner regarding the failure to pay money owed. 

The written notice sent to the homeowner must include the following points: 

     - a general description of the collection and lien enforcement rules of the HOA

     - an itemized list of the charges, 

     - various options to try and resolve the dispute between the property owner and the HOA

 

(Cal. Civ. Code § 1367.1(a)), (Cal. Civ. Code § 1367.1(k))

Board Approval

Only the HOA's board of directors has the authority to decide if the lien should be recorded for the missed payments. The board must approve the decision to record the lien by a majority vote, in an open board meeting, and in the minutes of that meeting.

(Cal. Civ. Code § 1367.1(c)(2))

 

In California the HOA does have the right to foreclose its lien on your property. However, the HOA cannot foreclose unless: 

  • the delinquent amount is $1,800 or more 
  • the property owner has been delinquent for more than 12 months (Cal. Civ. Code § 1367.4). 

If the two conditions above are met, the HOA may foreclose even if you are current on your mortgage payments. If you or someone you know is in potential risk of foreclosure of a property, you can contact an attorney who can guide you through the process.