Leaders in community association law since 1987.

Assessment Recovery


Every community association needs effective policies and processes for collecting delinquent assessments. For more than 29 years, the attorneys of Epsten Grinnell & Howell have been helping community association clients collect their members’ delinquent dues. The firm has a long track record in this sensitive area of owner relations and understands the essential aspects of timely and effective collection of delinquencies.

As part of the legal consulting relationship, our firm can assist association clients with preparation of a comprehensive written collection policy, provide guidance on association and manager adherence to the policy, and counsel clients on diligent pursuit of their policy’s specific procedures in taking collections actions. In performing their work, our attorneys assure compliance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Essentially there are three avenues for collecting delinquent assessments – a monetary judgment obtained through Small Claims Court; a nonjudicial foreclosure action; or a Superior Court action that produces a monetary judgment or foreclosure. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Epsten Grinnell & Howell legal counsel will work with you to identify and successfully implement the best option for each collection situation.

The timely collection of assessment dues is essential to the financial well-being of your organization. For more information on this practice area, co-chaired by Debora M. Zumwalt, see our selection of educational articles on assessment recovery.

Assessment Recovery Attorneys



    Practice Areas:
    Assessment Recovery

    Elisa M. Pérez is a native of Southern California and received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied history, international relations and economics. Prior to passing the California State Bar in 2008, Elisa concentrated her law school curriculum on international business and real estate. She received high honors from the University of San Diego School of Law for her work in land use with the City of San Diego Redevelopment Agency and completed graduate course work in International Business Transactions and Comparative Constitutional Law under the instruction of United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in Nice, France. She also attained an internship with the Spanish law firm of De Pasqual & Marzo in Barcelona, Spain, where she dealt with real estate and corporate matters for companies operating primarily in Spain, England and France.

    Since 2008, Elisa has maintained her focus on property law matters in representing homeowners and homeowner associations alike in litigation, small claims, assessment collection, and enforcement matters. She has counseled municipal agencies in landlord/tenant actions involving habitability issues in mobilehome parks and has worked with the California Department of Housing and Community Development on behalf of property owners. Elisa is well-versed not only in property law at the local and state levels, but also in the practical aspects of how such laws affect homeowner associations, property owners and tenants on a day-to-day basis here in California. In keeping her focus on property law, Elisa joined Epsten, Grinnell & Howell, APC, in 2012. She currently handles litigation matters related to the recovery of assessments and assists in drafting and interpreting governing documents for homeowner associations.

    As an active member of the community, Elisa enjoys volunteering for organizations promoting equality of opportunity and human rights, such as Habitat for Humanity, the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Rachel’s Woman Center. She is also fluent in Spanish.



    Senior Attorney
    Co-Chair, Assessment Recovery Practice Group

    Practice Areas:
    Assessment Recovery

    Debora Zumwalt graduated from the University of California, Irvine, in 1984 with degrees in economics and political science. She received her law degree from California Western School of Law in 1990.

    Debora’s entire legal career has been spent representing community associations throughout Southern California. She joined Epsten Grinnell & Howell, APC, in 1994, where she supervises the firm’s Assessment Recovery Department. Debora oversees nearly 3,000 collection matters and her department has successfully collected millions of dollars in delinquencies for association clients. Debora frequently publishes articles on assessment recovery issues in the firm’s newsletter, as well as in industry-related publications.

    Debora recently retired as a Girl Scout leader after 13 years of leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She continues her long-time volunteering at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.


Epsten Grinnell & Howell is a Professional Corporation, incorporated in the State of California. Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in California and the firm and its attorneys have attempted to comply with all legal and ethical requirements in this jurisdiction. We have created this internet site (epsten.com) for general information purposes only, and only address issues involving California law, and Federal law where it applies to matters in California. No information accessible on or through this internet site should be construed as legal advice, legal opinion, an endorsement with respect to any matter, or a solicitation for legal business. You should not rely on such information as legal advice for your particular matter without consulting your legal counsel. View entire disclaimer.

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