articles by barry A. Ross

Are the any limitations on the association’s ability to assess members?

Unless there are more restrictive limitations created by the governing documents, the board of directors may not impose a regular assessment that is more than 20% greater than the regular assessment for the association’s preceding fiscal year, or impose a special assessment which exceeds 5% of the budgeted gross expenses of the association for that fiscal year without the approval of owners constituting a quorum, casting a majority of the votes at a meeting or election of the association. A quorum means more than 50% of the owners of the association.

This requirement does not apply to assessments necessary for emergency situations, such as one of the following:

(a) An extraordinary expense required by an order of a court;

(b) An extraordinary expense necessary to repair or maintain the common interest development where a threat to personal safety on the property is discovered; or

(c) An extraordinary expense necessary to repair or maintain the association for which the association is responsible and that could not had been reasonably foreseen by the board in preparing and distributing the pro forma operating budget.

An association may not impose or collect an assessment or fee that exceeds the amount necessary to defray the costs for which it is levied.


See also: James F. O’Toole Company, Inc. v. Los Angeles Kingsbury Court Owners Association (2005) 126 Cal. App. 4th 549 in which judgment creditor of association obtained a court order regarding a special emergency assessment against association to satisfy judgment, even though association needed assessments to pay for essential services; Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association (2015) 235 Cal. App. 4th 466 where the court upheld fees imposed by the association for short term rentals; and Brown v. Professional Community Management, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal. App. 4th 532, where the court held that fees imposed by the management company are not subject the statutory limitations, which apply only to fees imposed by the association.