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Based on Section 337 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, the statute of limitations on a written contract is four years after the last payment. If you want to research this matter further, you can find various practice guides at the local law library. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.
I have tried to find a definite answer to this question myself but have been unsuccessful. It is either 4 years under Code of Civil Procedure section 336 or 5 years under Civil Code section 784. However, both those provisions relate to holding the owner individually responsible. They may not be applicable when the HOA is only asserting its rights against the estate, i.e., the owner's interest in the land.
When does it start running? Failure to pay each monthly payment is a separate breach so, IMO, the look-back period is either 4 or 5 years. But, again, this may be inapplicable with respect any lien asserted against the land or the associations right to collect all past due payments under redemption after foreclosure.
As always, do not rely on this advice. There could be circumstances in any particular situation which would provide for a different result and the statute of limitations in any particular circumstance is always fact driven.
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