Small Claims Court or Lien? Which is more advisable?

Asked over 5 years ago - Sherman Oaks, CA

Our HOA has 2-3 homeowners who owe over $1000 in dues, late fees, and assessments.

Our property management company suggested placing liens on these units. However, each lien costs us about $450. Also, since we would be in the junior position, and since values have gone down, it seems unlikely we'd ever see any money once there is a foreclosure or sale.

I would like to take the homeowners to small claims as that would be a judgment tied to the person, not the property. And wages could be garnished etc.

Also, the cost of small claims is much much less and I am trying to save the Association money.

Is there any reason to place a lien instead of going to small claims court?

Our goal is not to make life hard for the homeowner, but rather to get the money we are owed.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Robert Miller

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . This is a very reasonable question with reasonable solutions. Certainly the association can sue in Small Claims court for each defaulted payment as it comes due, up to a maximum of $7,500 in any single suit. This can be a very effective remedy. This does not mean that a lien can not and should not also be recorded, and there seems no reason why each one should cost $450. Maybe the first one, but after that anyone could modify each succeeding lien and record it for considerably less.

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