California AB 534 And Liens Against Condominiums, Co-Ops, and Apartments

Lately, we’ve written quite a few posts on recent California legislative changes. Well, it’s time to discuss another. Under California AB 534, which has been signed into law, three changes are made: (1) Authorization for work made by a CID association will be imputed to all owners within the association; (2) notice required by lien laws to go to the property owner may be sent to the CID association instead of individual owners; and (3) unit owners in a CID may bond off a lien by posting a bond that equals 125% of their pro-rata share. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Take a peek into the issues condominium lien claims with this post: Liens on Condominiums – An Overview.

California AB 534

Here’s the bill’s full text, and here’s the broken down analysis.

If you’re thinking: “Wait. He never defined a CID!” you’re right, and I apologize. A CID association is a “common interest development” association. This refers to self-governing groups of common property owners, such as condominiums or apartments. When the ownership of units within one physical property are broken up, a CID will typically be present. Even some neighborhoods of detached, single-family residences may be CIDs.

Anyway, let’s take the three changes one at a time….

California AB 1701 has also made quite the splash.

Authorization for Work

First, let’s note that this does not affect how projects are decided on within a CID. Instead, California AB 534 merely affects how authorization for a project is determined in light of mechanics lien laws.

There is no single governing form of CIDs, and the differences between how a CID is governed can create drastic changes for lien claimants. Under California lien law, an owner must provide authorization for the project. Practically speaking, prior to AB 534, this meant that the party providing work might have to track down and obtain authorization from every member of the CID to preserve their lien rights. You can imagine how challenging and tedious this could get, especially on small-time projects with many owners.

Now, once a CID association has approved a project and hired someone to provide work, the CID’s authorization will be imputed to all owners for the purposes of supporting a potential claimant’s right to lien.

Sending Notice

Mechanics lien claimants must strictly adhere to procedural requirements in order to preserve their rights and eventually file a lien. However, the complex governance present in many CIDs creates problems – a lien claimant must send notice to an owner before claiming a lien, but depending on how the CID is set up, this notice may have to go to each individual unit holder.

Under California AB 534, a claimant may now send notices directly to the CID association instead of individual owners. The CID association would in turn provide notice to each individual owner within the CID. This relieves a massive burden from lien claimants who work on large CIDs.

Bonding Off Liens

Typically, a California property owner may bond off a lien by merely posting a removal bond for 125% of the amount claimed. However, because CID associations may jointly own certain aspects of the property (for example, a pool, the lobby, or community rooms), the ability for owners to bond off the lien created a complex issue.

Following California AB 534, an owner may now bond off their portion of the lien by posting a removal bond equal to 125% of their pro-rata share of the mechanics lien. So if there are 100 different unit owners, and a lien is filed for $100,000, an owner could post a removal bond for $1,250 to clear their property title. Of course, if an owner owns multiple units, the amount would multiply.

Note that a bonded off lien is often good news for a claimant.

Takeaway

Filing a mechanics lien against a condominium or apartment complex is no longer a daunting, complex feat- filing a lien on a CID is now nearly as simple as a mechanics lien on a house. Then again, mechanics liens are pretty complex all on their own…In any event, this is great news for those in the California construction industry.

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California AB 534 And Liens Against Condominiums, Co-Ops, and Apartments
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California AB 534 And Liens Against Condominiums, Co-Ops, and Apartments
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Following the passage of AB 534, filing a mechanics lien against a condominium or apartment complex is no longer a daunting, complex feat. A lien against a CID has now been simplified a mechanics lien against a house.
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Lien Law News
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