When is fining a member appropriate?

To determine when fining is appropriate - besides ensuring that there is authority to do so and that proper procedure is followed - it is helpful to understand the purposes behind fining. Enforcement of the governing documents - including the rules, regulations, and policies of the association - is one goal of fining; the idea being that the threat of having to pay a fine is enough to force compliance with those provisions. A second goal is deterrence - both of the violator and of other members who might be considering similar violations. Ultimately, the purpose is to encourage compliance with the governing documents. When fining will not accomplish that goal, other enforcement mechanisms should be considered.

Does the Association have the authority to assess charges or fines for violations by members?

Yes, if authorized by the governing documents and subject to satisfying due process requirements.

Are there state laws that regulate whether a member may be assessed a charge or otherwise fined by the association for violations? What violations trigger this authority? What procedures must be followed?

State law prohibits an association from imposing charges/fines unless (among other requirements) the association is authorized to do so by its governing documents, distributes a schedule of penalties to the membership beforehand, and provides notice and a hearing. (Civil Code §§1363(g) and (h), 1366.1)

What actions can the association take to collect fines levied against a member?

Depending on the governing documents, the association may be able to record a lien against the property. The association can also sue the member to enforce payment of the fines.

Can an association foreclose my property for non-payment of fines?

An association cannot foreclose a lien recorded against the property for non-payment of fines. An association, however, may impose and foreclose a lien for reimbursement for damage to the common area caused by a member. (Civil Code §§1367, 1367.1)

What, if any, other internal administrative enforcement options are available for the association to take in the event of a violation of the statute or the association's governing documents?

Besides fines, the association can suspend a member's right to vote and/or be a director or officer of the association, or the right to use common area facilities. The association's enforcement options should be described in the governing documents.