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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Homeowners' association members often fear special assessments

Many California residents live on a budget. Fixed costs such as mortgage loan payments allow them to find the wiggle room in their budgets that allow them to pay off bills, go on vacation or buy new furniture. Another ordinarily fixed cost that homeowners' association members rely on is their monthly or quarterly dues. When an HOA notifies members of a special assessment, it could come as a shocking addition to the budget.

This is what happened to HOA members in another state. Residents of a condominium community knew about repairs to the whole HVAC system, but believed the cost was covered by a court settlement worth millions. It appears that is not the case, and the HOA levied a special assessment on each of its members for thousands of dollars.

Beyond not being able to afford the assessment, many condominium owners wondered why it was even necessary. Attempts to discuss the situation with the HOA went nowhere, but the members discovered that a two-thirds majority could defeat the assessment. Even when the vote bore this out, the HOA continued to insist that condo owners must pay the assessment or risk losing their homes. Legal action followed and an Arizona court ruled against the HOA.

California homeowners' association members may also find themselves in a situation in which they receive bills for a special assessment with which they do not agree. In the above case, a review of the HOA's rules and CC&Rs led to the members not having to pay the special assessment. A review of the circumstances, the applicable rules and other information could also reveal the legal options available to owners.

Source: USA Today, "Phoenix condo owners fight $15,000-plus HOA assessments -- and win", Catherine Reagor and Jessica Boehm, Nov. 13, 2017

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