Q&A. Must we have a published fine schedule if we notify owners in the hearing notice what fine the board intends to impose at the hearing?

A: Yes. California Civil Code section 5850 requires associations that want to use fines as a means of disciplinary action for violations of the governing documents to prepare and distribute a fine schedule. Additionally, section 5850 limits associations to imposing fines that comply with their published fine schedules. In other words, if an association’s fine schedule provides for a $100 fine for a given governing document violation, the association’s board cannot impose a $150 fine for that violation. The hearing notice should include the possible fine amount(s) but this doesn’t replace the need for a fine schedule.
On a related note, please remember that boards need to follow the rule adoption process mandated by Civil Code section 4360 when adopting a fine schedule. This means that the proposed fine schedule must be sent to all members for at least a 28-day comment period before being adopted at a duly noticed open session board meeting. The purpose and intended effect of the fine schedule must also be provided. Finally, notice of the board’s decision to adopt the fine schedule must be provided to the members within 15 days of the board meeting whereat the fine schedule was adopted. – Karyn A. Larko, Esq.