Q&A.  How do you collect fines? What options do you have legally?

A. Civil Code prohibits an association from characterizing a fine as an assessment that may become a lien against the property. Therefore, the only way to collect would be to sue an owner. We recommend a lawsuit to recover fines be brought while the amount is within the jurisdiction of small claims court (max $5,000 per claim for associations) to minimize legal costs. Before suing, make sure the association has afforded the owner due process in accordance with Civil Code section 5855 (i.e. a properly noticed hearing and hearing results letter).  – Jillian M. Wright, Esq.